Monsanto’s annual research and development update highlighted record project advancement across the company’s breeding, biotechnology and improved agronomics platforms, all aimed at sustainably maximizing farmer productivity while conserving resources like water and land.
Through integrated research in breeding, biotechnology and new technology areas such as Integrated Farming Systems and agricultural biologicals, Monsanto is focused on offering farmers the best possible system of products to optimize the performance of their crops each growing season. This systems approach focuses on delivering multiple solutions for farmers to combat the challenges they face, using fewer inputs, while ensuring the solutions work together to maximize total yield potential.
“In this record year for our pipeline, we added next-generation agronomic trait solutions, advanced our work in the unique space of yield and stress with the launch of Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids, advanced breeding projects that combat yield-reducing pests and diseases, and also added projects in our newest area, agricultural biologicals,” said Robb Fraley, Ph.D., Monsanto chief technology officer. “With our diverse and expanding pipeline of solutions, we’ll be able to deliver additional innovations to meet the needs of our customers in a sustainable way.”
In addition to the 18 project advancements, Monsanto has three projects in its Ground Breakers on-farm testing program. Ground Breakers, a testing program that informs the company’s commercial decisions and gives farmers a firsthand look at future products in their fields, continues Intacta RR2 PRO in Brazil, and added Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans (field trials under permit) and FieldScripts under Integrated Farming Systems in the United States.
Monsanto has a pipeline of exciting products in development, including yield and stress work in collaboration with BASF Plant Science, as well as next-generation insect control, designed to minimize yield risk and take production to a whole new level. This year’s advancements are comprised of eight projects, including the launch of Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids, developed in collaboration with BASF. This drought-tolerant corn system is designed to enhance yield stability when water is limited, providing farmers in tough environmental conditions with an opportunity to improve yield and consistency.
Monsanto’s breeding program draws from a diverse genetic germplasm collection that is unparalleled in the industry. Combined with an extensive global testing program, an understanding of biotechnology traits and advanced breeding tools like molecular markers and seed chippers, these components help plant breeders deliver new and improved hybrids and varieties faster and with higher yield potential than ever before. In addition to annual germplasm improvements, this year’s breeding pipeline advanced four projects, including the launch of phytophthora root rot resistant soybeans which targets the second most significant soybean disease in the United States, with an average yield loss of 44 million bushels per year.
Agricultural Biologicals Platform
Within Monsanto’s agricultural biologicals platform, researchers are working on targeted and effective products for weed, insect and virus control that could maximize growers’ yield potential. Monsanto’s first technology under agricultural biologicals is BioDirect. The company’s two BioDirect projects in virus control and insect control would offer farmers protection from virus and insects across a wide variety of crops. Monsanto’s BioDirect technology glyphosate-resistant weed control would target glyphosate-resistant weeds and provide a broader spectrum of control.
Agronomic Solutions Platform
Monsanto featured two advancements in its agronomic solutions platform that are designed to provide farmers with multiple solutions to combating weeds and multiple nematode species that impair productivity. Nematicide chemistry would provide farmers with control against nematode species in a wide variety of crops. The company also advanced its improved dicamba formulation, which would provide farmers with an additional tool for weed management, to the final phase before commercialization.
The following is a complete list of the 18 projects advancing phases in 2013.
Next-Generation Corn Rootworm (Advanced to Phase 1)
Next-Generation Corn Rootworm would provide farmers with multiple modes of action against corn rootworm. This project would build upon current corn rootworm technology, with multiple, new modes of action that would offer the opportunity for greater control and durability against corn rootworm.
Next-Generation Above-Ground Insect Protection for Corn (Advanced to Phase 1)
Next-Generation Above-Ground Insect Protection is designed to offer increased control and durability against key lepidopteran pests. This next-generation project would provide multiple modes of action against above-ground insects, providing a broad spectrum of efficacy on farmer’s fields.
Next-Generation Insect-Protected Soybeans (Advanced to Phase 1)
Next-Generation Insect-Protected Soybeans add additional modes of action, improving current yield protection and trait durability from previous generation products. This product is designed to provide multiple modes of action to primary and secondary insect pests with a broad spectrum of insect protection.
Next-Generation Genuity Bollgard Cotton (Advanced to Phase 1)
Next-Generation Genuity Bollgard Cotton is designed to enhance the insect protection in earlier Bollgard products. This next-generation technology would provide season-long protection with multiple modes of action against key lepidopteran pests in cotton fields worldwide.
Herbicide-Tolerant Wheat (Advanced to Phase 2)
Herbicide-Tolerant wheat is designed to incorporate tolerance to multiple herbicide modes of action, giving growers multiple options for weed management. Early field trials showed excellent tolerance to dicamba and glufosinate.
Insect Protected + Roundup Ready Sugarcane (Advanced to Phase 2)
Insect-protected + Roundup Ready Sugarcane is designed to use the Bt technology widely adopted in corn and cotton to control economically damaging pests in Brazil, including sugarcane borer. The insect protection is combined with the Roundup Ready gene for more flexible weed control.
Dicamba-, Glufosinate- and Glyphosate-Tolerant Corn (Advanced to Phase 3)
Dicamba-, Glufosinate- and Glyphosate-Tolerant Corn is designed to build on the Roundup Ready Xtend crop system and provide farmers with additional herbicide-tolerance options. This product would contain multiple herbicide tolerance traits enabling use of herbicides with different modes of action, expanding growers’ options to protect their corn crop from weed infestations.
Dicamba- and Glufosinate-Tolerant Cotton (Advanced to Phase 4)
Dicamba-and Glufosinate-Tolerant Cotton would represent Monsanto’s first stack of herbicide-tolerant technologies in cotton, containing Genuity Roundup Ready Flex stacked with Dicamba-and Glufosinate-tolerance for three unique modes of action. Part of the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System, this would provide cotton growers with the most effective weed management system available.
Drought-Tolerant Corn (Launched) – Collaboration between Monsanto and BASF
Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids is Monsanto’s drought-tolerant corn system developed as part of a joint R&D collaboration with BASF on yield and stress. Monsanto will introduce Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids in the Western Great Plains for the 2013 growing season under stewardship requirements pending import approvals in key export markets. Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids combine germplasm selected for its drought-tolerant characteristics through breeding, the drought-tolerant biotechnology trait and agronomic recommendations. In the 2012 growing season, Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids experienced strong performance in trials, with commercially projected products showing a yield advantage of more than 5 bushels per acre over competitor hybrids.
Goss’s Wilt Resistance in Corn (Advanced to Phase 3)
Goss’s Wilt, caused by a bacterium that reduces yields in the Western Great Plains and expanding areas, affects approximately 30% of U.S. corn acres and can impair yields greater than 60 bushels per acre. The Goss’s Wilt Resistance project would enhance disease resistance against Goss’s Wilt in corn crops.
Root Knot Nematode Resistance in Cotton (Advanced to Phase 4)
Root Knot Nematode Resistance technology in cotton can reduce root knot nematode populations by 60%. When combined with seed treatments, the system can provide enhanced seedling vigor, resistance management and season-long protection against root knot nematodes. These new cotton varieties would offer more uniform, stable growing performance than is currently available.
Phytophthora Root Rot Resistance in Soybeans (Launched)
In field-testing, Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield Phytophthora Root Rot soybean varieties with double gene stack showed a significant yield advantage over the competition, providing enhanced season-long protection against the diverse pathogen strains of the second-most impactful soybean disease in the U.S.
Performance Series Broccoli (Launched)
Unlike ordinary broccoli, the crown in Performance Series Broccoli extends even with the leaf canopy. The stem is clean without large leaves to remove. The crowns mature uniformly, requiring fewer passes through the fields at harvest which makes them easier for farmers to harvest.
Agricultural Biologicals Platform
BioDirect Technology Virus Control (Advanced to Discovery)
Leveraging Monsanto’s core capabilities in genomics, BioDirect Technology Virus Control could significantly reduce the impact of viruses across a broad range of crops.
BioDirect Technology Insect Control (Advanced to Discovery)
Early testing indicates BioDirect Technology Insect Control could provide specific and precise protection against insect pests that significantly impact the health of a farmer’s crop.
BioDirect Technology Glyphosate-Resistant Weed Control (Advanced to Phase 1)
BioDirect Technology Glyphosate-Resistant Weed Control has the potential to be a game changer for managing weeds that have developed glyphosate resistance. Early testing indicates that BioDirect technology can be used with glyphosate to target weeds and provide a broader spectrum of control on problem weeds.
Agronomic Solutions Platform
Nematicide Chemistry (Advanced to Phase 3)
Monsanto’s nematicide chemistry would provide farmers with an additional tool to control pressure from multiple nematode species, one of the largest pest problems in agriculture.
Improved Dicamba Formulation (Advanced to Phase 4)
The Improved Dicamba Formulation, a complementary component of the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System, would control resistant and tough to control weeds with a dual-mode-of-action herbicide. The new low-volatility dicamba/glyphosate premix candidates could be used before, during and after planting with Roundup Ready Xtend Crops.