Living In Interesting Times

An old Chinese proverb says “may you live in interesting times.” While most listeners would view this as a positive state of affairs with unlimited potential for growth and prosperity, others see it as a curse, with “interesting” being another word for “dangerous.”

At the 50th anniversary gathering of the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA), both views were on display. According to , founder, president, and CEO for ABG, ag has never been in a time like this.

“We are at an interesting inflection point in the evaluation of the industry, broadly,” said Jackson. “Right now, there are things going on here that weren’t here two years ago and are not forever kind of things such as $3.50 a bushel corn. Then again, two years in this industry is kind of almost forever.”

Market Differences

In particular, Jackson cited several examples of how today’s ag market differs from that of the one a few years back. For instance, the value of the crop protection market was rapidly declining, to around $5.5 billion. In 2007-08, however, the value increased back to $5.7 billion. Meanwhile, seed and trait values have grown to more than $12 billion. Likewise, anhydrous ammonia could be had for $200 to $300 per ton back in 2006. Today, that same amount costs more than $1,000.

“In particular, retailers are facing incredible price risk on crop nutrient purchases, and need to have increased working capital requirements to keep supplies up in this area,” said Jackson.

Still, the future is bright, according to other speakers. “As world population grows and urban areas expand, the quantity and quality of land available for agriculture declines,” said Monty Bayer, U.S. marketing director for Dow AgroSciences. “By 2020, there will be just over 0.2 hectares per person for animal and crop production, compared with almost 0.4 hectares back during the 1970s.”

Todd DeGooyer, Northeast regional director for Monsanto, agreed with this view. “In fact, we were issued a challenge by our CEO Hugh Grant to double yields for corn and soybeans by 2030,” said DeGooyer. “This would mean increasing today’s yield of 150 bushels per acre for corn to 300 bushels and soybeans from 40 bushels per acre to 80 bushels.”

Brad May, strategic business entity lead, seed treatments for Bayer CropScience, added that the need to address alternative fuels and climate change would have an impact on the future direction agriculture takes. “There will be increasing demand for renewable energy and biofuels, not to mention the yield losses through weather conditions and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said May. “This will lead to acreage competition between food, fuel, bio-energy crops, and fiber.”

At Monsanto, this quest involves introducing an ever-expanding array of seed traits for growers to pick from. “In 2009, Monsanto plans to launch our YieldGard BT Pro trait,” said De­Gooyer. “This will offer growers multiple modes of action and could help them reduce the amount of crop refuge needed from today’s 50% down to 20%. This added 30% should help them to increase their crop yields.”

Seed Treatments Ahead

Over at Bayer, May said the opportunities for seed treatment are rapidly growing. For example, in soybeans, the marketplace has expanded from $45 million in sales during 2007 to more than $65 million this year. Furthermore, seed treatments are running the gambit of options, from insecticides and fungicides to inoculants and film coatings. “Seed treatments are known to provide better emergence, healthier plants, and disease/insect control,” said May. “But they also contribute to increased yields and complementing the traits themselves.”

Finally, at Dow, the focus is on improving crop protection products to take advantage of the overall industry trends. As Bayer pointed out, crop protection products won’t be disappearing in the near future despite the advances being made in seed traits. “Ag chem will always have a place because Mother Nature always wins out in the long term over our efforts to control it,” he said. “Therefore, we believe there is a strong future for these products.”

Leave a Reply

Eric Sfiligoj Stories
Eric SfiligojWar And Green Peace
October 11, 2014
A one-time member of Green Peace recently explained why he left the organization after 15 years. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More
Eric SfiligojA Whole New Precision Ag World
June 2, 2014
Excitement and technology developments could make 2014 a year to remember for precision ag. Read More
Eric SfiligojOngoing State Biotech Crop Labeling Laws Could Receive Federal Stop Sign
May 19, 2014
Proposed legislation in Congress might prevent states from passing biotech crop labeling laws. 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
West Central Sac City growers
StewardshipIowa Lawsuit Challenges Ag’s Water Quality Efforts
May 3, 2015
Nutrient problems in west-central Iowa’s water supply made national headlines in March when the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) filed Read More
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
Crop InputsDow AgroSciences: Always About Agriculture
May 2, 2015
When you consider their respective backgrounds, it’s little wonder why Dow AgroSciences and new President/CEO Tim Hassinger ended up together. Read More
Nozzle spray close-up
AdjuvantsSpray Drift Enters More Complex Era
May 1, 2015
Off-target movement of crop protection products has been a problem for decades. The issue got more contentious when glyphosate-tolerant crops Read More
Crop InputsTop 10 Twitter Pics For #Plant15
April 30, 2015
Growers and ag retailers are working feverishly to plant this year’s crop. Fortunately, many of them still have time to Read More
ManagementIowa Retailer Sticks Up For Agriculture and New Spray D…
April 30, 2015
Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about how one Iowa ag retailer is working to defend agricultural practices and an Read More
Dow AgroSciences Logo wall
Seed/BiotechNew Soybean Trait Agreement To Use Dow AgroSciencesR…
April 30, 2015
Dow AgroSciences LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Co., Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. and Bioceres, S.A. have formed an agreement Read More
Confluence of St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers in Minnesota
StewardshipAgricultural Runoff Among Causes Of Water Quality Issue…
April 30, 2015
A new report released April 29 by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency provides additional evidence that agricultural and urban runoff Read More
EquipmentTop 30 IRON WORKS Cartoons Of All Time
April 29, 2015
When CropLife IRON first started publishing more than a decade ago, long-time Publisher Al Strohmaier decided to start a cartoon Read More
StewardshipCPS-Hillsboro Becomes First ResponsibleAg Certified Fac…
April 29, 2015
Unlike a race where the first finisher takes home a medal or blue ribbon, safety and regulatory compliance doesn’t often Read More
HerbicidesWeed Scientists Offer New Definition For ‘Superwe…
April 28, 2015
The Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) has joined with six sister organizations to recommend a new definition for superweed Read More
Crop InputsValent Announces “Relentless As You’ Contes…
April 28, 2015
Valent U.S.A. Corporation today announced the winners of its national “Relentless As You” contest, which recognized the relentless spirit of Read More
HerbicidesSyngenta’s Acuron Secures EPA Federal Approval
April 28, 2015
Growers looking to control difficult weeds like waterhemp, giant ragweed and Palmer amaranth will have access to Acuron corn herbicide Read More
FertilizerSimplot’s Gal-XeONE Technology Moves West
April 27, 2015
The J.R. Simplot Co. remains committed to creating customer value through technology. In 2013, Simplot purchased the Gal-XeONE controlled release Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Need To Defend Production Agriculture
April 27, 2015
Last week, I spent the better part of my time on the road visiting with ag retailers and market suppliers Read More
FertilizerStarter Fertilizers Show Value In Stressful Spring Cond…
April 27, 2015
From wet, cold conditions in the eastern Corn Belt to excessively dry, cool soils in the Plains states, spring field Read More
StewardshipTFI Announces Renewed Financial Commitment To Fertilize…
April 24, 2015
Today, The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) President Chris Jahn announced that TFI and over 100 partners will more than double existing Read More
Industry NewsMACA Names New Ambassador Coordinator
April 23, 2015
The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) has named Michelle Kilper as its new Ambassador Coordinator. Michelle is a graduate of Read More
ManagementAg Retailer’s Role In Local Policy Making; Raising The …
April 23, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review their recent travels, precision ag efforts in Washington, DC, and the role of Read More