A new microbial-based seed trait is under development by Bayer CropScience. The trait represents one of several developments the company has under way to strengthen and expand its seeds business. Other new products in the works include a global soybean brand, Credenz, and high-yielding wheat varieties.
Bayer CropScience announces it is developing a new soybean trait to address soybean cyst nematode (SCN) in North America. The trait will represent the first microbial-based seed product in the company’s portfolio, according to Liam Condon, chief executive officer for the company.
Condon made the announcement about the new trait this past week, during the company’s annual press conference in Monheim, Germany.
SCN is considered the most destructive pathogen in U.S. soybeans today. Annual soybean yield losses attributed to SCN are estimated to exceed $1 billion, according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Bayer CropScience expects the trait will be available to U.S. farmers by 2025. The technology currently is in the company’s proof-of-concept stage for the U.S.
"We believe it has huge potential in most parts of the Midwest soybean growing area," says Jorg Ellmanns, head of the soybeans, corn and herbicides team within crop strategy and portfolio management. "The first results are extremely positive. The efficacy is very broad and the reduction of (nematode) counts is huge, but we have to verify that throughout the project development stages," he adds.
Ellmanns says he has been meeting with U.S. farmers about the technology and expects to discuss it further in formal farmer focus groups.
"We’ll establish focus groups very early in the development stage to discuss how we can optimize the trait, how we can bring it to the market and make it most convenient for farmers to use," Ellmanns notes.
One of the key objectives for the company is to communicate what farmers can expect from a microbial trait. "It’s a totally different offering from what we have had in the past, but I’m very encouraged by the discussions I’ve had with U.S. farmers," Ellmanns says.
He also pointed out that the company is now poised to offer farmers agronomic solutions that draw upon traditional chemistry, biological and microbial technology in combination with farmers’ agricultural practices. "The combination of these will help guarantee the sustainability of agriculture," he says.
Expanding Seeds Business
Bayer CropScience plans to further strengthen its position in established crops such as vegetables, rice, oilseed rape and cotton, and to build up significant market positions in soybean and wheat, Condon reports.
For 2014, he says the company plans to launch the global Bayer CropScience soybean brand, Credenz, in North and South America.
"Bayer is investing in bringing future traits that could protect soybeans against specific insets, repel persistent attacks by nematodes and make soybeans tolerant to the most effective herbicides," Condon says. "These traits will be offered in the Credenz brand and will also be licensed broadly."
In wheat, Bayer CropScience is building a global wheat breeding network, with the objective of developing high-yielding varieties adapted to local growing conditions. Condon says the company plans to introduce initial varieties to the marketplace in 2015.