Bayer sets sights on better spring wheats

Production facilities in the right location, with the right capacity and technology are a must for any supplier that wants to develop and market new products for Canadian growers. That’s why Bayer CropScience has significantly bumped up its investment in infrastructure as part of a commitment to providing Canadian growers with innovative crop management tools.

“We have the capabilities in this company to come up with great ideas for growers, but you have to be able to offer something tangible; some value that will come from those ideas,” says Dr.Marcus Weidler, VP, seeds operations with Bayer CropScience. “All of our infrastructure projects ultimately have the goal of improving yield and yield stability of our products. This results in a better return on investment and reduced risk for growers. We are now better set up to do that than ever before.”

“Continual upgrades are required to ensure that we are running at optimum capacity,” says Dianna Emperingham, director of product supply for Bayer CropScience in Regina. “We are now able to bring in the best technologies for all the different steps in the filling and packaging process, and we have also been able to free up floor space for future expansion of our formulations and other operations.

“We made the decision to update the design of the plant to improve efficiencies and flexibility to meet increased market demand,” says Emperingham. “With a strong product supply team located in Regina and our distribution partners across the country, Bayer CropScience can produce, import and distribute our full line of products to Canadian growers.”

Focus on wheat

Investment didn’t stop there. In September 2014, Bayer broke ground on its new $12 million Wheat Breeding Centre south of Saskatoon. “We have had some great varieties here in Canada that were bred to thrive in Canadian fields, but it’s time to take the next step in wheat breeding,” says Weidler.

“This facility has a clear focus: to develop hybrid spring wheat that can perform in Western Canada under stress such as drought, excess moisture, or other tough conditions.”

Globally, Bayer CropScience has committed CDN $2.1 billion to improving the performance of wheat, and in linking all its research facilities to take advantage of advancements made at each. It has also made strategic alliances with other industry partners to create a global network of wheat breeding research and development.

“So instead of accessing only the relatively small genetic pool we have here in this country, we can draw from the germplasm available in places like Brazil, Ukraine and Argentina,” says Weidler. “Ultimately, we need to translate that global network into local success, and we will be able to do that at our new wheat breeding facility.”

The first phase is expected to open in the summer of 2015 and will house a large research area alongside office space and equipment and processing workshops. The centre will work closely with others in Fargo, North Dakota and Lincoln, Nebraska.
Breeding material will be moved between all three facilities.

“We believe in the future of agriculture in Canada,” says Weidler. “But to compete on a global scale, we need to increase the competitive edge of Canadian growers. With an investment in innovation across our facilities, we will have the capacity to continually advance our research, development and production practices to the benefit of growers.”