Research to Feed the Growing Global Population
Feeding the growing global population is one of the greatest challenges facing the world. By the year 2050, our planet will be home to more than nine billion people. However, the amount of available agricultural land is declining due to increasing urbanization, higher salinity levels and soil erosion. In addition, extreme weather conditions like drought and flooding are impacting harvest quantity and quality. Bayer is the third-largest innovative agricultural input company in the world and we aim to help make the agricultural economy more productive.
Innovate for a Sustainable Future
At Crop Protection, we pursue the goal of identifying and developing innovative, safe and sustainable active ingredients for use as insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and crop efficiency products for foliar and soil application as well as seed treatment. These substances also undergo further development for professional applications outside of farming (Environmental Science), such as in pest control and vector control to combat diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. They are also used to control weeds and maintain sport facilities and public parks. At Seeds, meanwhile, we are conducting research and development for optimized plant traits and are developing new varieties in cotton, oilseed rape / canola, soybeans, rice, wheat and vegetables. Our scientists are working on increasing the yield potential of crops, enhancing their quality and developing new herbicide tolerance and insect resistance traits based on novel modes of action, and improving tolerance against disease and extreme weather conditions.
Crop Science maintains a global network of research and development facilities. While research is carried out centrally at a number of dedicated sites, development of crop protection products as well as plant breeding and trait development activities take place both at these sites and at numerous field testing and breeding stations in all regions. Our scientists working across the areas of seed traits, seed technology, seed breeding, agricultural chemistry and biologics closely collaborate as part of our integrated research approach. This optimally combines our complementary expertise in chemistry and biology.
To provide farmers with sustainable agronomic recommendations, we develop digital products and services that support them through the use of specific data models, among other things, in evaluating conditions in the field. Our long-term goal is to help farmers to improve their yields by providing them with tailored recommendations.
Our product pipeline contains numerous new crop protection products, seed varieties and enhanced products (life cycle management). We estimate the combined peak sales potential of products with launch dates between 2015 and 2020 to be more than €5 billion. In 2018, we launched confirmatory technical proof-of-concept field studies for five new active ingredients.
Some of Our Biggest Priorities in Research:
Stress affects plants as well as people. And their stress levels are rising, as climate change tests their ability to survive drought, flood and temperature fluctuations.
We can’t just make these ordeals vanish, much as we’d love to. Our first step is to make plants better at coping – so they can produce high yields even in tough conditions. For example, our scientists are trying to unlock the secrets genes hold about plants’ stress tolerance.
New hybrid seeds can also boost yields – as we’ve already done by up to 30 per cent in the case of oilseed rape and rice, compared with open pollinated plants.
Can we make a tomato more delicious or a cotton fiber stronger? Could rice be healthier or a melon easier to eat? Yes to all the above. And they’re just examples of the many traits we can strengthen in crop plants.
In fact, we bring about 70 new varieties of vegetable seed to the market each year – each offering farmers at least one new trait that’s sure to grab the interest of their customers.
Rapeseed oil is another example of improvement that never stops. We’re helping cut the levels of unhealthy trans fatty acids that may accrue during processing.
And while farmers need herbicides to kill off weeds, how can they stop killing off their crop plants into the bargain? We help make their plants strong enough to resist and even break down herbicides – thanks to substances known as safeners, which scientists have used in other applications for 30 years or technologies based on genetic engineering which makes crops tolerant against herbicides.
To develop better agronomic recommendations for farmers, we develop, for example, digital products and services that help them with analyses and the evaluation of conditions in the field and provide them with extensive geographical information that enables better decision-making for mastering a variety of challenges.
A product is just a step in a journey. There’s always a better one waiting around the corner. Diseases can quickly become resistant to treatments – so the pressure is always on to find the substances that will stop that happening. The most exciting breakthroughs happen when we harness nature’s own processes – as with Movento™, for example, which uses sap to distribute the active substance throughout the plant. Bad news for pests wherever they live and feed on it.
Other big stories from our labs include the long-lasting herbicide Alion™, which controls weeds in perennial crops, such as citrus fruits, nuts, grapes, pome fruits and stone fruits. And the fungicide Luna™, which controls a large number of fungal diseases in the field and prevents rotting processes during storage.
Another area to watch: finding pest management answers based on biological active ingredients contributing to sustainable agriculture. These include Natria™, a spray product containing the natural active substance from the neem tree that controls sucking and chewing insect pests.