OSR crops present a particular challenge. They are essential to supply chains and farmers’ livelihoods across Europe, but unlike with corn or sugarbeet, it is not easy to use a precision planter with OSR. The variability in seed size means it can be difficult to get the right machine set-up or achieve the desired results. Many farmers are transitioning to this technology – but many others distrust it and prefer to continue using a standard planter.
As we strive for more sustainable and efficient agriculture, this is something we need to solve. Precision planting can optimize the spacing between seeds and rows, leading to reduced competition for resources, uniform emergence, and ultimately better yield potential and boosted profitability for the farmer. How do we encourage its use?
This is where Acceleron Precision comes in. Purpose-designed for OSR, this integrated seed solution combines advanced genetics and seed treatments, along with a higher TKW (Thousand Kernel Weight) seed, enabling far easier precision planter use. Piloted successfully in Hungary and with more countries on the way, Acceleron Precision adds a new dimension to the Acceleron family, making precision planting part of its offering for the first time.
The development process: Internal meets external
How was Acceleron Precision devised – and then turned into a reality in just a few years? According to Sébastien Deraeve, Crop Portfolio Solution Manager Oilseed Rape & Sugarbeet EMEA, it was a case of understanding farmer challenges, then taking the risk of investing in the solutions. “We are lucky to have strong commercial networks in Europe, and as a result we are really close to farmers,” he says. “We understand their issues and what key steps they need assistance with. These include seed preparation, sowing and emergence. They have explained to us that although they try to use the precision planter wherever they can, the careful adjustment of equipment settings is harder to get right with lower-TKW seeds. Therefore, even if they always use the precision planter for corn, they still might not for OSR. We heard about this across Europe – not just in the west or east. Wherever we looked, kernel size and weight presented a big challenge
“So we discussed with colleagues from different teams internally – supply, research, and so on – and identified the possibility for an OSR-specific solution. This would eventually become Acceleron Precision.”
Normally, devising a concept would require a long period of theoretical or lab-based work – but as Sébastien explains, Acceleron Precision made the jump to the ‘real world’ in record time. “We did start with lab analysis. But after some months, we decided to make additional tests in the field – in parallel with the lab work – to check that the solution would have no impact on emergence. Initial results indicated that there is no risk, so we decided to expand the trials: using different planters to adapt densities, to have a more accurate gauge of density, to decrease the risk of stem elongation, of lodging, and of other challenges.
"In around two years, we were ready to move to the pilot phase, to establish whether customers would accept and benefit from the solution. To be honest, there is some risk involved in going this quickly into field trials in parallel with labs – it means twice the effort and expenditure, in the same time frame, before you have fully evaluated the concept. It’s not easy to develop a business case for that, when you might not see success for two, three or even five years. But all the internal stakeholders at Bayer made the joint decision that we should keep trying, developing, taking responsibility and moving into new phases. To me, it’s so important that we always learn, innovate, and move out of our comfort zone."
Success means taking care of everything
After positive results from the Hungarian pilot, Acceleron Precision is expanding into Romania, with other territories in the pipeline. “We continue to work with internal supply teams to improve our process from pilot to commercialization,” says Sébastien. “I see potential for many more farmers across Europe – or even further afield.
What’s unique about Acceleron Precision is that it combines so many technologies and beneficial effects – an ‘integrated package’ that is made possible by the involvement of many different functions at Bayer, as well as external stakeholders. This was where Bayer’s scale, established networks, and role as an active R&D company really paid off.
“To be successful with a new solution like this, you need to do as much work internally as externally,” explains Sébastien. “The commercial pilot was crucial for learning about farmer sentiment, demonstrating that we can replicate lab results in farmers’ fields, and showing that a full launch is viable. But how do we prepare for that full launch internally? Operationally speaking, producing some trial seeds is not the same as fulfilling 1,000-2,000 ESU worth of demand. That’s why we ran an internal pilot at the same time, establishing how we could make Acceleron Precision work within our production and supply processes.
"For me, that is the key to everything: ensuring both sides come together. In SeedGrowth, you can have a very good solution for farmers, but if you are not able to implement it internally with the right management, it will not be a good solution. And vice versa – you can have a very good internal process but you still need to offer a solution that meets farmer needs.”
It is still early days, but it looks like everything is coming together for Acceleron Precision. “As I’m from a farmer family, nothing matters more to me than the reaction growers have when they open the bag of Acceleron Precision. They are trusting their crop, their field, and their performance to this seed. When they open the bag to see high-quality, large, higher-TKW seeds, it gives them confidence that precision planting will work and that they will see results. That is so important.”