SMART REVOLUTION PROMISES SUSTAINABLE CROP PROTECTION IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL AGRICULTURE
Rothamsted Research and Bayer have signed a strategic alliance to accelerate the development of solutions to help farmers manage crop threats more effectively.
Finding smarter and more sustainable ways to protect crops from pests, pathogens and weeds is at the heart of a new strategic alliance between Rothamsted Research and Bayer.
Building on a track record of collaborations, the alliance aims to support a digital revolution for detecting and managing these biotic threats more sustainably.
The partners will work together in a number of research areas: from real-time detection of pests in the environment to understanding the evolution of resistance; and from the identification of new modes of action of insecticides to novel approaches to controlling pests.
Co-ordinated activities, in the laboratory and in the field, will generate the data, know-how, tools and technologies that are required to support a transition to smarter crop protection.
“Over the years we have conducted many projects in collaboration with Bayer, in the areas of both animal health and crop science,” says Lin Field, Head of Biointeractions and Crop Protection at Rothamsted. “These collaborations have allowed us, for instance, to take our fundamental knowledge of insecticide mode of action and resistance into the wider agro-chemical industry to support more sustainable use of insecticides for both veterinary applications and crop protection.”
Field adds: “A major ongoing project concerns ‘bee toxicogenomics’, which seeks to understand how bees metabolise insecticides and to inform the design of more selective chemistry. The new alliance will foster and support further collaborations and exchanges of ideas in areas of science and innovation that are of great importance for everyone.”
“The strategic alliance with Rothamsted will help us find further sustainable solutions for the challenges that we face in modern agriculture. Bundling the expertise, know-how and exchange of ideas will lead to further innovation in our company," says Adrian Percy, Global Head of Research and Development at Crop Science, a division of Bayer. “Crops are exposed to a wide range of both biotic and abiotic stresses, and we expect our enhanced collaboration with Rothamsted to help us develop a better understanding of how these factors can be more sustainably managed to reduce crop losses worldwide and manage resistance more effectively.”
Progress towards more sustainable practices is moving at an unprecedented rate. The agricultural environment is now one in which data can be collated and accessed electronically to model and forecast quickly how threats are evolving, and so provide farmers with better and more timely guidance.
“We are absolutely convinced that ‘digital farming’ will revolutionise agriculture,” says Tobias Menne, Head of Digital Farming at Bayer. “New technologies that detect stress factors long before they become visible to the human eye can help farmers to make better informed decisions earlier and more precisely. Fertiliser and crop protection can be applied at the best possible time and at the optimal dosage, using no more or less than the plant needs.”
Menne adds: "Innovative digital solutions, which combine data, agricultural knowledge and farming experience, help farmers to increase their profitability and take further steps towards a more sustainable way of farming."
“At the heart of our research lies the need to feed a growing world population in a more sustainable manner,” says Achim Dobermann, Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted. “Although research institutions such as ours can contribute much in addressing that challenge, we need to partner with others, including industry, to achieve real breakthroughs and have bigger impacts. This alliance will provide us with a whole new opportunity to work together on complex challenges, towards making farming more precise, more productive...and more sustainable.”
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Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2016, the group employed around 115,200 people and had sales of EUR 46.8 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.6 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 4.7 billion. These figures include those for the high-tech polymers business, which was floated on the stock market as an independent company, named Covestro, on 6 October, 2015.
For more information, go to www.bayer.com
About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit https://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.