Competence areas

Products, Coatings

Country/Region

United States

Crops

Corn

Date

May 2014

Meeting the demand for corn, the world’s No. 1 commodity crop

GROWING GOLD RIGHT FROM THE START

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Corn is one of the world's most important crops. More than a billion people depend on corn every day. And the number’s growing as fast as the global population clock. So the world's corn farmers have the awesome responsibility of meeting the burgeoning demand for a golden grain that feeds and fuels the world. Find out how seriously Kyle Meece, a third-generation farmer from Illinois (US) in the heart of the American Corn Belt, takes his responsibility.

Staple food for a growing population

Corn (aka maize) is a staple food throughout the world. The evolution of this once simple grass species into a versatile nutritional and energy powerhouse can be seen as one of the crowning agronomic and genetic achievements of all time. “As the global population continues to increase, more food is required,” says Kyle Meece. “But you don't get more food unless you have higher yields. To supply the growing global demand, we must increase productivity, whether it's more grain to feed livestock, or whatever. We need to be able to increase yields and set higher goals each year.”
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Supporting corn farmers

Since this driving need is felt keenly at Bayer CropScience as well, the company is energetically supporting corn farmers like Kyle, and committed to delivering integrated crop solutions to boost the quality and quantity of global corn harvests. So Bayer is not just investing in chemistry and new technologies like biological crop protection solutions, but also evolving equipment design to improve the application of active ingredients to high-value seed.

“A successful corn harvest starts with the seed that goes in the ground. At Bayer our mission is to do whatever we can to protect the seed so it gets the best possible start from day one,” says Oliver Guth, Global Corn Segment Manager at Bayer SeedGrowth. “For farmers who are counting on this crop for their livelihood, it's critical that those tiny seedlings emerge strong and healthy, and that's where our products come into play.”

Kyle agrees. “Your highest yield potential is while the seed is still in the bag, so as soon as you put that in the ground, it's crucial to get everything right – from the get go. Seed treatments play a crucial role. Every grower, myself included, wants to see two things: good healthy roots, and the crop coming out of the ground in a hurry.”

“Our mission is to do whatever we can to protect the seed so it gets the best possible start from day one.”


Oliver Guth, Global Corn Segment Manager, Bayer SeedGrowth

Protecting and enhancing the seed

Bayer has been helping farmers protect and enhance the genetic potential of seed corn since the early 1960s. Seed-applied fungicides were developed to protect corn seed from damaging diseases such as pythium and fusarium, which thrive in cold and wet soils. Over time, these fungicidal solutions have become more and more sophisticated. Today, Bayer offers a range of products under its Bayer SeedGrowth competence brand. One of them is EverGol Energy, which combines three different modes of action to fight off resistance and offer excellent protection from damping-off diseases, head smut and Rhizoctonia.

Insecticidal blockbusters

Looking beyond fungicides, Bayer's scientists added further tools to help corn farmers. Mesurol, for example, secures corn yields against bird feeding. And the early 1990s saw Bayer’s first broad-spectrum insecticidal seed treatments with the launch of the best-seller Gaucho, which protects corn seed from pests such as wireworm, grubs and seed corn maggot.

“It's such a great feature now,” says Ron Meece, Kyle's father and farming partner. “Treated seed is just dumped in the planter and away we go without having to worry about anything. It's just a relief to know that you're controlling as many insects out there as you are. Plus we are still being environmental friendly.”


“Treated seed is just dumped in the planter and away we go without having to worry about anything.”


Ron Meece, U.S. corn farmer

New pressures emerge

However, just as the seasons change, so too do the needs of corn farmers, as new insect and disease pressures emerge every year. “In our area we continue to face a lot of rootworm resistance,” says Kyle. “We are all looking at how we layer different products on that seed. As we see new and improved technology that's going to help us with nematodes and items that cannot be genetically modified into a crop, seed treatments are playing a crucial role and will continue to as we keep pushing forward.”

Pressures are also starting to mount from industry and society, as product safety and other concerns gain even more prominence. “When we are specifically looking at the seed treatment, there are a couple of key characteristics we look for,” says Fred Sinclair, Corporate Product Manager of AgReliant Genetics, the third-largest corn seed company in the United States. “We want a product that is streamlined in our production facilities and both user-friendly and effective for our customers.”

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Innovations in the pipeline

Bayer CropScience continues to push the envelope to meet farmers' needs, with a host of innovations in the pipeline to tackle age-old problems. One example is a fluency agent being trialed in the U.S. that reduces dust-off from treated seed. Another new product, Sonido, was launched in 2013 in Europe as an alternative to other soil insecticides. “New horizons are opening up with biological solutions and other products that will improve plant health, stress tolerance and yields,” Oliver Guth says. “Coupled with great equipment, coatings and in-the-field service, our commitment to corn farmers continues to grow.”

Kyle Meece agrees. “Bayer has been innovation. They've come out with some pretty incredible products that helped us out here in this part of the world and they're continuing to. You see that every year. They're taking proactive approaches. In our farming operation we must continue to innovate, and we see Bayer as a great partner in this effort.”


Did you know?


  • Corn is the world's leading commodity crop, with 850 million tons worth more than $300 billion grown on 155 million hectares worldwide. More than 20 percent of all spending for seed, trait and crop protection inputs is in corn.
  • Over the last 40 years, corn has led all crops in terms of productivity gains and value growth.
  • There are more than 4,200 different uses for corn products, most prominently in livestock production, followed by ethanol, food starch and sweetener products. Less than 1 percent of global corn is used as a direct food product.
  • Population growth, economic development and increasing consumer dietary demands will drive the growing global demand for food, fiber and renewable raw materials. Corn has the most efficient feed conversion ratio for livestock producers to help meet this increasing demand.
Bayer CropScience

Given the specific climatic conditions necessary for corn production, the potential for increased corn acreage is limited. So productivity has to increase sustainably to meet the future global demand for corn. Bayer CropScience’s corn products are efficient, environmentally sound and low dosage, which also reduces handling and capacity requirements.
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