Monsanto’s Mechanical Army

April 28, 2009 04:51 AM


You wouldn't necessarily expect a seed and chemical firm to have a fleet of machinery, however, Monsanto Company maintains an impressive mass of machines.
For putting in research plots, Monsanto employs custom-designed plot planters. The planters don't require dumping extra seed, switching row spacing or recalibrating for population changes. The plot protocols are laid out and delivered via a computer and GPS mapping.
As for harvesting the research plots, the company uses more than 50 harvesting machines to collect its seed plot data from millions of plots across the U.S. Combines, such as the twin-row New Holland (pictured) can harvest an average plot in 10 seconds all while collecting many thousands of data points. The high-tech combines can cost up to $500,000 and are outfitted with state-of-the-art data collection tools. For example, a twin-plot combine harvests research data in double-time by simultaneously taking out two side-by-side research plots.
The company says it is using the equipment for faster translation of research to commercial products. The more field testing the company has done, the higher the rate of success in finding the unique genotypes it is searching for.

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