Bayer and Rothamsted Research have joined forces to discover smarter and sustainable ways to protect crops from the threat of pests, pathogens and weeds.
By forming the alliance the partners aim to support a digital revolution for detecting biotic threats in a much more sustainable way. Research areas will include real-time detection to better understanding resistance and identifying new ways to use insecticides to control pests.
Teams from both sides will generate data by working together in the laboratory and field in a bid to find new agronomic solutions for growers and therefore improve crop protection.
“Over the years we have conducted many projects in collaboration with Bayer, in the areas of both animal health and crop science,” says Lin Field, head of biointeractions and crop protection at Rothamsted.
“These collaborations have allowed us, for instance, to take our fundamental knowledge of insecticide mode of action and resistance into the wider agro-chemical industry to support more sustainable use of insecticides for both veterinary applications and crop protection.”
Field adds that a major project concerns bee toxicogenomics which aims to understand how bees metabolise insecticides and to inform the design of more selective chemistry.
“The new alliance will foster and support further collaborations and exchanges of ideas in areas of science and innovation that are of great importance for everyone,” she adds.
Digital farming and sustainability
Rothamsted Research says finding sustainable practises is vital to agriculture and can be accelerated by collating data electronically to model and forecast how quickly threats are evolving. By improving the pace of detection, farmers can be warned and better guided to deal with the threat.
“We are absolutely convinced that ‘digital farming’ will revolutionise agriculture,” says Tobias Menne, head of digital farming at Bayer.
“New technologies that detect stress factors long before they become visible to the human eye can help farmers to make better informed decisions earlier and more precisely.
“Fertiliser and crop protection can be applied at the best possible time and at the optimal dosage, using no more or less than the plant needs.”
By partnering with Bayer, Rothamsted is better equipped to make “real breakthroughs with a bigger impact”, adds its chief executive and director, Achim Dobermann.
“At the heart of our research lies the need to feed a growing world population in a more sustainable manner,” he says.
“This alliance will provide us with a whole new opportunity to work together on complex challenges, towards making farming more precise, more productive and more sustainable.”