In 2014, Bayer CropScience invested €974 million (2013: €861 million) in research and development, which was 27.3 percent of R&D spending in the Bayer Group and equivalent to 10.3 percent (2013: 9.7 percent) of CropScience sales.
CropScience maintains a global network of research and development facilities employing some 5,000 people. Our largest R&D sites for chemical and biological crop protection products are located in Monheim and Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Lyon, France; and Sacramento, California, United States. The major research centers of the Seeds unit, which focuses on improving seed through seed technology and breeding, are located in Ghent, Belgium; Haelen, Netherlands; and Lubbock, Texas and Morrisville / Raleigh, North Carolina, United States. While research is carried out centrally at a small number of sites, our development and plant breeding activities take place both at these sites and at numerous field testing stations across the globe. This ensures that future active substances and crop varieties can be tested according to specific regional and local requirements.
In Crop Protection/Seeds, our scientists working in the areas of seed technology, agricultural chemistry and biologics are closely collaborating as part of our integrated research approach. This bundles the technical expertise acquired in chemical and biological research and field development, aligning it to our long-term research objectives and business strategies for the various crops. In the Crop Protection unit, we identify and develop innovative, safe products for use as insecticides, fungicides, herbicides or seed treatments in sustainable agriculture. In the fields of chemistry, biology and biochemistry, modern technologies such as high-throughput screening and bioinformatics play an important role in identifying new chemical lead structures. In addition, we are steadily broadening the range of uses for our active ingredients by developing new mixtures or innovative formulations so that they can be applied in additional crops or in different regions or be made easier to handle. Successful collaborations with external partners complement our own activities.
Research in our Seeds unit is devoted to optimizing plant traits. We are developing new varieties in our existing core crops – cotton, oilseed rape/canola, rice and vegetables. We have now expanded our research activities to include two new core crops – wheat and soybeans. Our work focuses on improving the agronomic traits of these crops. Our researchers are working to increase the quality and yield potential of crop plants – for example, by improving the profile of rapeseed (canola) oil or enhancing the properties of cotton fibers. We are also targeting the development of plants that have high tolerance to external stress factors, such as drought, and can more efficiently utilize water. Further areas of focus include developing new herbicide tolerance technologies based on alternative modes of action, and improving insect resistance and disease tolerance. To do this we employ modern breeding techniques ranging from marker-assisted breeding to plant biotechnology methods.
With many crops, such as vegetables, major success can be achieved using conventional plant breeding methods. As vegetables are mostly intended to be marketed and eaten fresh, merchants and consumers have particularly strict requirements regarding their appearance, nutrient content, taste and shelf life. We are launching a succession of new vegetable seed varieties that satisfy these requirements.
Our integrated product pipeline for crop protection and seed technology contains a total of 25 individual projects, along with numerous new seed varieties and improved products that have estimated launch dates between 2011 and 2016. We believe these products have a combined peak sales potential of more than €4 billion. In Crop Protection, we plan to have launched around 10 products by the end of this period. In our Seeds business, we plan to bring some 15 projects to market for the broad-acre crops of cotton, oilseed rape/canola, rice, wheat and soybeans, along with several hundred new vegetable varieties, over the same period.