Big benefits for growers


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Bayer CropScience Taiwan has been developing innovative rice seed treatment solutions to enhance rice production. The benefits include minimizing pest-induced yield losses, reduced handling of chemicals, less labor-intensive cultivation methods, fewer applications of crop protection products through targeted on-seed applications, and improved rice quality.

A rice farmer examining the quality of his crop grown from treated seed

Non-competitive rice production

Tung-Bi Huang (50) has been a rice farmer in Taiwan for more than 25 years and now has no cartilages left in his knees – the result of long hours spent laboring in rice paddies. And Huang is a relative “youngster” – the average age of Taiwanese rice farmers is 63! Despite widespread rice-growing acreage and farmers like Huang working hard all their lives, rice production in Taiwan has not been globally competitive due to a shortage of labor, small farms, and high pest and disease pressure. However, Bayer CropScience is slowly changing that scenario by providing an integrated seed treatment package that makes more efficient rice production possible..

Healthy seedling technology

The development work started six years ago with an innovative rice seed treatment experiment in nursery boxes. What makes the Taiwan model unique is that Bayer has partnered with the Taiwan Provincial Farmers’ Association’s agro-chemical plant to introduce Prophet Rice (Xian-Zhi-Dao) healthy seedling technology. Bayer treats the rice seed in small boxes where they germinate and grow into seedlings, which are then sold to farmers. The results have been astonishing. This integrated solution not only does away with the need for pesticide application in the first two months but also reduces farming time, which certainly helps growers like Huang. And the technology has increased yields by eight percent over traditional approaches.

Enhancing rice production: The Taiwan model

Goal: To provide rice growers and food chain stakeholders in Taiwan with innovative integrated solutions from Bayer for more efficient rice production with the following benefits:

Minimization of yield loss due to pests, reduced handling of chemicals and reduction in labor requirements for pest management, ensuring strong prices and profit potential.

Reduced application in the field of crop protection products through replacement with highly targeted seed application.

Improved food quality due to more efficient, focused use of crop protection products.

Bayer Taiwan personnel and Peter Herold presenting a showcase with rice
Bayer Taiwan personnel and Peter Herold presenting a showcase with rice
Bayer Taiwan personnel and Peter Herold presenting a showcase with rice
Bayer Taiwan personnel and Peter Herold presenting a showcase with rice
Bayer Taiwan personnel and Peter Herold presenting a showcase with rice
Bayer Taiwan personnel and Peter Herold presenting a showcase with rice
Bayer Taiwan personnel and Peter Herold presenting a showcase with rice
Bayer Taiwan personnel and Peter Herold presenting a showcase with rice

Bayer Taiwan personnel and Peter Herold presenting a showcase with rice

Helping to rejuvenate rice farming

“With the population in farming villages aging, this new concept is required to encourage young people to return to the countryside,” explains Daisy Tu, General Manager of Bayer Taiwan. “Only by introducing new agricultural technology to facilitate more environmentally-friendly crop production will apprentice farmers be able to slip into the processes easily. Bayer Taiwan’s major task in the next few years will be to continue product and machinery innovations for on-seed application.”

Innovative application equipment solutions

One part of the solution for rice seeds is centered on new application and equipment technologies. Peter Herold, Bayer’s Head of Market Development for Asia Pacific, has spent years testing various innovations in this market and recently invented a new machine for applying crop protection products to rice seed in Taiwan. The new seed treater does not look any different from the type of machine farmers in Canada or Australia may use to treat their cereal seed.

“The difference comes in the Flight V’s barrel ratio that has been adapted to allow the treatment of pre-soaked rice seed without damaging the wet seed.”

Peter Herold

“But the basic operation is no different from any seed treatment machine in that it enables Bayer SeedGrowth™ products to be applied accurately to the seed.” The machine has received a very positive reaction in the market so far, as Peter Herold reports: “It is working very well in producing quality application of Bayer SeedGrowth products to pre-soaked rice seed.” Several other equipment solutions, products and application technology for rice seed treatment in Taiwan are already in the pipeline.

A Farmer is proud of his high yields

Positive reactions to seeding success

According to Sunny Han, who heads new business projects at Bayer Taiwan, the company has conducted more than 300 demonstration trials on the healthy seedlings since 2007 and received very positive reactions from farmers who have tested the technology. “For us, looking after rice seedlings is just like looking after a baby,” Huang says. “You have to constantly check the water level and apply remedies when you spot an insect pest. When spraying pesticide, you’re standing in muddy soil and it’s hard work pulling your feet out when they're stuck.” A year and a half ago, Huang came across the Prophet Rice technology in a seedling nursery workshop and immediately agreed to join the program of experimental rice paddies.

“I was able to cut down the frequency of pesticide use by two to three times and reduce my costs as I do not have to hire workers any more. It saves me time, effort and money.”

Tung-Bi Huang

The Prophet Rice concept was fully launched in January 2013, and Sunny Han says meetings with growers will be held to introduce the new technology and benefits to farmers and nursery centers.

Taiwan rice farmer working in cultivating rice field

Significant benefits for rice growers

“In view of the benefits and improvements, I expect the Prophet Rice concept to be adopted rather fast and expand to the majority of rice production in Taiwan,” says Georgi Bonev, Bayer’s Commercial SeedGrowth Marketing Manager for Asia Pacific. He expects to see significant improvements in the application equipment in the nursery centers, including more precise dosing and application capabilities through computerization. He also foresees more quality-improving components like micronutrients and fertilizers in the Bayer SeedGrowth products to further improve rice production and quality. “The beauty of the Prophet Rice concept is that the whole labor- and chemical-intensive program for protecting young seedlings and rice plants from pests and diseases in the field is moved to the early phase of rice seedling production in the nursery centers, where products are applied to seeds before they are sown in the nursery box,” he points out. “The rice grower purchases a nursery box with built-in protection against the key pests. The technology provides a range of direct benefits for rice growers, e.g. minimizing pest damage and growers’ exposure to chemicals, reducing labor requirements, as well as improving convenience and, ultimately, yields.” The concept has received strong support from farmers and government officials throughout Taiwan, who see the concept as an opportunity to provide Taiwanese growers with a new technology for sustainable and improved rice production.
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