Rich Keller, editor of AgProfessional magazine, at the BASF Solutions Media Summit heard BASF announce new investments and solutions that will help growers and partners in North America drive yields and efficiency. BASF will invest more than €200 million ($270 million) to expand production capacity for key herbicides dicamba and DMTA at the Beaumont, Texas, site as well as upgrade production at the Hannibal, Mo., site. With capacities expected to be on line in 2016/17, the expansions will serve to meet the growing demand for BASF’s diverse herbicide portfolio, which features nine different modes of action and multi-year rotational plans in order to ensure effective, flexible and durable weed control. BASF is evaluating additional investments as part of its plan to spend approximately €1.8 billion between 2014 and 2018 to increase production of its crop protection products worldwide.
The investments coincide with the planned launch of more than 20 different innovations for the agricultural industry from BASF’s R&D pipeline in North America, highlighted by an advanced dicamba formulation, Engenia herbicide. Starting in 2015, Engenia will help growers to control resistant weeds in key row crops and also serve as a key component of dicamba/glyphosate-tolerant cropping systems.
“The North American market has seen many challenges along with great opportunities in the past few years,” said Markus Heldt, President of BASF’s Crop Protection division. “We are committed to investing in R&D, production and personnel in North America, so that we can deliver effective and efficient solutions for growers and our retailer customers.”
Additional innovations include the miticides Nealta for specialty crops and Sultan for turf and ornamentals, which provide effective residual control of mites at all life stages. From Functional Crop Care’s R&D platform, BASF will provide from 2015 onward a new family of seed coating products based on Xemium fungicide as well as Limus urease inhibitor. Limus provides optimal nitrogen availability during crops’ critical growth stages and also contributes to better environmental outcomes by helping to reduce nitrogen losses in the field.
Plant Science shows promising results
In the area of plant biotechnology, BASF Plant Science is moving ahead with several promising projects. These include the 2013 launch by Monsanto of Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids, a drought-tolerant corn variety developed in collaboration with Monsanto. BASF is also initiating the first field trials for its fungal resistance project, which is designed to address stalk rot in corn through innovative trait technology.
“BASF Plant Science stands on three strong pillars including yield increase and stress tolerance, herbicide tolerance, and fungal resistance,” said Peter Eckes, President of BASF Plant Science. “We continue to focus on collaborating with key partners in order to prepare the next generation of innovations for agriculture.”
Innovation Specialists focus on customer needs
Since 2010, BASF has expanded its in-field staff by 150 experts in North America, highlighted by the Innovation Specialist advisory program initiated in 2012. Innovation Specialists provide direct agronomic and decision support for the newest technologies available from BASF. Currently, BASF employees work directly with more than 30,000 growers and 11,000 retail partners in North America, meaning that BASF team members now provide expertise and tailored solutions for over 84 million acres of agricultural production in the region.
“Supporting our customers is our number one priority, and we continually collaborate with them to address the issues that matter most,” said Nevin McDougall, Senior Vice President, BASF Crop Protection North America. “That means helping growers and retail customers improve output, care for their natural resources and support their local communities.”