Ag Solutions Summit: Producing More With Less

Just looking at the pure statistics, the numbers appear daunting. Based upon the best projections, the world’s population will include an additional 2.5 billion people within the next 40 years. Naturally, all these additional individuals will need to eat, which puts pressure on the globe’s growers to double their crop yields and food production by 2050.

Making this population boom even more difficult to manage, food-wise, will be its make up. “This will be an aging and growing population,” said Markus Heldt, president, Crop Protection Division for BASF SE. “Most of these consumers will have higher incomes, which will lead to a changing diet where they eat more meat than today. More meat demand will mean more grain demand.”

To address this topic at length, BASF Corp. gathered many experts for its Agricultural Solutions Summit. Held in Chicago in June, the summit looked at the issue of feeding a growing population while at the same time preserving the planet’s resource and energy consumption. According to Dr. Peter Eckes, president, BASF Plant Science, this means adopting sustainable agricultural practices.

“Sustainable agriculture is a complex and difficult topic, but our definition is pretty simple,” said Eckes. “We are talking about farming solutions that maintain the right balance between economic success, environmental protection and social responsibility. We want to help growers achieve more yields on the same amount of land using less water and less energy. But we also want them to maintain their way of living.”

Naturally, said Paul Rea, vice president, U.S. crop operations for BASF, growers are at the heart of this movement. “Growers today are at a crossroads,” said Rea. “They have a tremendous production challenge ahead of them, but at the same time, they are getting squeezed by regulations and the desire to be more efficient.”

Consumer Views

Somewhat surprisingly, consumers don’t represent a barrier to growers achieving this goal. According to a BASF survey of 400 consumers and 116 growers, there is more trust and optimism among consumers than many general media portrayals might suggest.

“Consumers trust growers more than growers probably expect them to,” said Rea. “This is a strong foundation that the agricultural industry can build on in its goal to improve trust and align priorities even further.”

According to the survey results, consumers take an optimistic view of farmland stewardship practices and believe the industry will continue to improve sustainability efforts. Similarly, when asked to gauge their own priorities and views on environmental stewardship, growers also held a positive view.

Other highlights from the survey included the following:
•  Both growers and consumers feel farmland stewardship practices are better now than 10 years ago, and will continue to improve during the next 10 years.
•  Consumers think growers place more emphasis on environmental impact when they select crop protection products than growers report of their own behavior in decision-making.
•  Consumers feel that growers are receiving crop inputs from trustworthy sources.
•  Growers place top priority on effectiveness and cost when selecting a crop protection product.

“In the end, it comes down to consumers having trust in growers, both to provide a safe food supply and to have minimal impact on our environment,” said Rea. “We can help strengthen this trust by providing growers with the information and support they need to make sure that consumers are informed with the right information.”

Biotech Aids

Part of this effort needs to focus on biotech crops and their contribution to sustainable agriculture, said several speakers. Based upon the data, biotech crop use in the U.S. has already added significantly to the nation’s yield number, producing an additional 40.9 million tons to the country’s corn supply during 2008. “Without the use of biotech crops, U.S. growers would have had to plant an additional 11.4 million acres of corn, 8.6 million acres of soybean and 5.4 million acres of cotton to achieve the same yields,” said Eckes. “Also, the equivalent CO2 emissions saved in 2008 through less tillage with biotech crops was like removing 6.9 million cars from the road.”

In the future, biotech crop developments should help sustainable agriculture by addressing one of the industry’s most pressing challenges: Water use. According to the statistics presented at the summit, 70% of the world’s fresh water goes into farming, 38% of the world’s land area has some level of drought exposure and irrigated land accounts for 40% of global food production. “Growers will not be able to use 70% of the world’s water going forward because of population increases in the world’s major cities,” said Robert Thompson, former gardner chair, agricultural policy for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

To this end, the industry is expecting to see the first drought-tolerant biotech crops beginning in 2012. Further­more, said Eckes, BASF will continue working in the area of seed development.

“We will develop the best traits for the best seed, promote leading technology platforms in gene discovery and product development up to market introduction,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires South Dakota Retailer
April 2, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed Read More
CropLife 100The McGregor Co. Closes Smith-Kem Acquisition
April 2, 2015
The McGregor Co. — ranked No. 16 on the CropLife 100 list of largest U.S. ag retailers — has completed Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Latest News
Industry NewsCHS Insurance Names New Director Of Sales
April 17, 2015
Bryan Lewis has been named director of sales for CHS Insurance, the nation’s largest agribusiness insurance broker and full-service insurance Read More
Mature Waterhemp in Corn
HerbicidesGenetic Literacy Project: There’s No Such Thing A…
April 17, 2015
Read the latest “analysis” on GMOs from Consumer Reports and you’ll “learn” that glyphosate, the chemical developed by Monsanto (its Read More
HerbicidesNew Resistance To 2,4-D Discovered In Australia
April 17, 2015
In a world-first case of herbicide resistance, researchers have confirmed that sowthistle weed in the south east of South Australia Read More
ManagementNews From RTP Company Visits and Growers Buying Older S…
April 16, 2015
Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss recent trips to the Research Triangle Park area and market seed sales trends. Read More
soybean field
StewardshipNew ASABE Standard Establishes Framework For Sustainabl…
April 16, 2015
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has initiated a project to develop a new standard to establish Read More
MicronutrientsSouthern States: An Inside Look At Our Tissue Sampling …
April 15, 2015
Remember learning about the food pyramid in school? The nutritional diagram recommends the proper amount of nutrients you need on Read More
Industry NewsArysta Adds New U.S. Fungicides Marketing Manager
April 15, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently hired Deneen Sebastian as its Marketing Manager for U.S. Row Crops, Fungicides. Most recently, Sebastian Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Launches Phosphite-Based Cereal Fungicide
April 14, 2015
A new, phosphite-based fungicide designed for improved suppression of deoxynivalenol (DON) in wheat and barley infected by Fusarium head blight Read More
Mature Waterhemp in Corn
HerbicidesSURVEY: Close To 90% Of Growers Battle Weed Resistance
April 14, 2015
Herbicide resistance management continues to be a priority for corn and soybean growers, and they’re working together more effectively to Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
StewardshipFMC Corp. Joins Sustainable Agriculture Alliance
April 14, 2015
FMC Corp. has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a multi-stakeholder initiative working to define, measure and Read More
Industry NewsArysta Adds Two To Goëmar Sales Team
April 14, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced two new additions to the Goëmar sales team: Steve Kelly, Technical Service Manager – Read More
Valley Variable Rate Irrigation
Precision AgVariable Rate Irrigation Gains Followers
April 14, 2015
Irrigation systems have had the ability to apply different amounts of water throughout a field for decades, using timers that Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Gr…
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Soybean field
Industry NewsThree Ag Co-ops Poised For Possible Merger
April 13, 2015
Following months of study and preparations, the Board of Directors for United Farmers Coop (UFC), Farmers Elevator Cooperative (FEC) and Read More
Eric SfiligojAgriculture Braces For More Belt-Tightening
April 13, 2015
Spring is in full bloom across the U.S. and ag retailers and their grower-customers are busily getting into high gear. Read More
ManagementPollinator Health and Washington, DC
April 9, 2015
CropLife America’s Kellie Bray speaks with CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj regarding bee health and proposed Beltway regulations. Read More
InsecticidesValent Takes On MGK Insecticide Portfolio
April 9, 2015
As of April 1, Valent U.S.A. Corp. became the exclusive provider of the MGK crop protection line of insect control Read More