Building on new seed traits, digital assets and emerging technologies, Bayer Crop Science plans to expand into adjacent markets dealing with crop fertility, biologicals, biofuels, carbon farming, and precision application services — more than doubling the division’s potential in a market that currently stands at more than $109 billion for its current core portfolio.

Overall, the company sees the possibility to shape regenerative agriculture on more than 400 million acres by the middle of the next decade, according to a preview of speeches at the company's 2023 Innovation Summit in New York City Tuesday.

“We are envisioning an even broader role in agriculture. With the most powerful innovation engine in the industry and leading market positions, Bayer is uniquely set to provide the solutions that farmers need in light of food security and climate change,” Rodrigo Santos, president of Bayer’s Crop Science Division and a member of the Bayer AG board, said in a release. He said the company defines regenerative agriculture as “increasing food production, farm incomes and resilience in a changing climate while renewing nature.”

In the future, Bayer will focus its investment on solutions that deliver “important pillars of regenerative agriculture” with an estimated peak sales potential of more than $32 billion.

“This includes improved productivity, social and economic well-being of farmers and communities, conservation of water, mitigation of climate change, improved soil health as well as preservation and restoration of biodiversity,” the release noted.

Some highlights from Bayer’s research and development pipeline include:

  • Bayer is advancing existing breeding technologies while also developing new gene editing tools to create designer seeds for crops like corn, soybeans, cotton and vegetables. The company is also working on hybridizing staple crops like rice and wheat, aiming to improve productivity and sustainability. Bayer noted its belief that direct-seeded rice “has the potential to transform rice production, significantly reducing water consumption while increasing yields,” the firm says. Bayer's Direct Acres program in India is hosting initial trials.
  • Earlier this month, USDA completed the review of Bayer’s biotech short-stature corn trait (MON 94804). The company says its new Preceon Smart Corn System, offering reduced plant height, has the potential to reduce the risk of “losses from high wind, season-long access for more precise use of crop protection products and nutrient applications and the potential to optimize inputs, planting populations and field placement through digital tools.” Bayer says it can stack new trait technologies such as short-stature corn with insect-control traits currently on the market or in the pipeline, including the company's third-generation corn rootworm trait.
  • Bayer is touting the development of “sustainable small molecules” and an entirely new herbicide mode of action for broadacre weed control as “the first in the industry for over three decades.” The company says this molecule has “demonstrated effective control of key resistant grasses in research and is expected to be commercialized toward the end of this decade.” Other molecules are also in the company's research and development stages, including a new broad-spectrum fungicide for cereals, corn, fruits and vegetables with “blockbuster potential” in the company's third research phase. There's also a new mode of action for broad-spectrum horticulture fungicide in the second phase of research “with opportunities to extend to cereals and rapeseed.”
  • Bayer joins a growing list of crop protection companies like BASF and Syngenta in expanding their portfolio of biological products, and others, like Pivot Bio, which are focused on reduced synthetic nitrogen use. The company also envisions fruit and vegetable production with “opportunities for reduced residues” through “late-season application of biological-based crop protection for insect and disease control.” Bayer currently works in partnership with Gingko Bioworks, Kimitec, M2i and AlphaBio, with a goal of more than $1.6 billion in sales by 2035.
  • CoverCress, a relatively new firm in which Bayer is the majority share owner, is also the name of a cover crop and oilseed that can be planted between traditional row crop growing seasons in some parts of the U.S. Bayer says this will open additional revenue streams because oil extracted from CoverCress is “designed to achieve a lower carbon intensity score and can be made into renewable fuels without competing against food crops,” Bayer said in a release. 
  • The company will continue to expand its digital value chain to help farmers make better decisions, document climate-smart practices on the farm, and provide greater transparency for consumers. Climate FieldView has become “an essential decision tool” with subscriptions on more than 220 million crop acres globally, Bayer noted.
  • Bayer plans to continue supporting the efforts of producers to remove carbon from the atmosphere and reduce emissions through traits and inputs that enable no-till farming, improve soil health, reduce soil erosion, and cut carbon emissions. Bayer’s Carbon Initiative, the company added, also can offer supplemental revenue opportunities for producers “by connecting them to the global carbon markets.”

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