Monsanto Opens Water Utilization Center

June 16, 2009 07:00 PM

Charles Johnson, Farm Journal National Editor
With a brand-new research and demonstration center opening near Gothenburg, Neb., Monsanto gave notice that the company is serious about producing drought tolerant traits in its corn hybrids.

The company's Water Utilization Learning Center is designed for both research projects and demonstrations to farmers and other groups. It will showcase the Monsanto's crop genetics as well as its traits pipeline and weave them into agronomic systems, says Chandler Mazour, the site's manager.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman spoke to about 360 visitors at the center's opening ceremonies. "The center demonstrates what the future of ag holds for our farmers. I am particularly pleased the focus is on sustainability, on better, more efficient water use,” Heineman says.
Monsanto built the facility here for a couple of reasons. The company already had a breeding station at Gothenburg. More importantly, says Ted Crosbie, Monsanto's vice president of global plant breeding, the area lies in the transition zone from dryland to irrigated acres on the western High Plains. That increases the company's research options at the new site.

Ted Crosbie, Monsanto's vice president of gobal plant breeding (left), with Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman at the grand opening of Monsanto's Water Utilization Learning Center in Gothenburg, Neb. 
"We think Gothenburg and this center will play an important part in ag history going forward,” Crosbie says.
Company executives outlined their goals to help double national yields of corn, soybeans, cotton and canola by 2030. In addition, they plan to reduce crop inputs by one-third during that time period, says Boyd Carey, Monsanto's technology development organization leader.
"The next generation technology will be built around drought tolerance. We'll see how the technology interacts with the germplasm at this center,” says Ernesto Fajardo, Monsanto's vice president for U.S. commercial development.
Monsanto's first drought tolerant corn hybrid is on track to hit the market in 2012, says Robb Fraley, the company's vice president and chief technology officer. More advanced drought tolerant hybrids should quickly follow.
"Things we learn at this site are going to benefit farmers around the country and across the world. This is a special time for agriculture. We're seeing incredible advances in gene sequencing. Where we're at in the technology curve is right at the very beginning. We're in about the 1960's equivalent of where the computer industry was. We're going to see 30 to 40 years of advancement coming out of research at this center,” Fraley says.

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