Monsanto and The Climate Corporation report on R&D pipeline

Monsanto and The Climate Corporation held a press conference Jan. 4 to discuss the highlights of their annual Research & Development Pipeline Showcase. Both companies moved a number of projects closer to commercial release in 2017.

“Our research is aimed at improving grower productivity and sustainability regardless of where they farm, what size land they farm, or what agricultural practice they choose to deploy on their farming operations,” Robb Fraley, chief technology officer for Monsanto, said.

This year Monsanto advanced a record number of research projects across all platforms. Fraley said this is the fifth consecutive year with more than 20 pipeline advancements and the seventh consecutive year where projects have advanced across all of Monsanto’s R&D platforms including breeding, ag biological, crop protection, or digital ag.

Trecepta technology advanced and is set to launch in 2018. This technology is designed to protect corn plants against attacks by fall armyworms, corn earwoms, corn borers and cutworms.

Lygus and Thrips control cotton technology advanced to Phase 4. This technology is designed to protect cotton from lygus, thrips and fleahopper bugs. Monsanto hopes to commercialize this technology in the next two to three years.

New formulations of proven weed killers in products like Harness Max Acetochlor Premix will advance to the launch phase in 2018. The next generation of dicamba premix products will advance to phase 2 in the pipeline.

“In 2017 soybean growers fighting yield robbing weeds like the palmer pig weed saw incredible results with the launch of the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend technology,” Fraley said. “Despite headlines to the contrary the weed control, the yield performance and the adoption of the technology has been outstanding. The Roundup Ready 2 Xtend yield results from our 2017 trials are in and showed a 5.7 bushel per acre yield advantage compared to the competing Liberty Link system.”

The Climate Corporation advanced research on a disease and identification technology, which uses artificial intelligence to identify and diagnose disease in corn, soybeans and wheat in real time. Sam Eathington, Chief science Office for The Climate Corporation, said they are using software similar to that used for facial recognition. Images of crop diseases are used to train computers to recognize diseases. Right now they are working with nine diseases and have 90 percent correct diagnosis. This technology advanced from development to the pre-commercial phase.

The Climate Corporation also is working on advanced seed scripting tools that enable farmers to combine multiple data sets.

“Our mission at Climate is to help all the world’s farmers sustainably increase productivity with digital tools,” Eathington said.

Doug Rich can be reached at 785-749-5304 or [email protected]