The DuPont Pioneer Drought Research Council (DRC) published its first article this month titled ‘The U.S. Drought of 2012 in Perspective: A Call to Action.’ The paper outlines recommendations for improving food security, including an emphasis on research collaborations; objective, science-based regulations; and, appropriate funding for public agricultural research.

“The DuPont Pioneer Drought Research Council brings together experts in the field of drought research from across the public and private sector to nurture collaboration, share ideas and, ultimately, identify solutions for sustainable agricultural production,” said Jonathan Lightner, vice president, agricultural biotechnology, DuPont Pioneer. To summarize ‘The U.S. Drought of 2012 in Perspective: A Call to Action’ article:

  • The United States is the world’s largest exporter of major grain and oilseed crops, with corn being especially important;
  • A large disruption to U.S. production of these crops can have a substantial impact on international grain markets;
  • The severity of the 2012 U.S. drought and its effect on corn prices is reviewed;
  • The challenges of developing improved genetics for productivity under drought conditions is discussed; and,
  • Priorities for international agricultural research to mitigate effects of climatic shocks to global food supply are explored, including: appropriate funding for public agricultural research; emphasis on collaborations; and, science-based, objective regulations.

The complete findings and recommendations are published in the September issue of the journal Global Food Security.

The DRC was first formed in 2011 when Pioneer joined with a group of leading scientists from 10 U.S. academic institutions studying drought to solve for improved agricultural productivity in challenging conditions. The current DRC members1 specialize in plant breeding, drought, irrigation, plant physiology, agricultural biotechnology and agronomic research.

Patrick Byrne, professor of plant breeding, genetics and biotechnology at the Department of Soil & Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, comments, “The DRC interaction has expanded my view of agronomics and crop breeding and has been valuable for my research program and teaching efforts.”

The DRC meets formally once a year and most recently convened during the week of August 5 in the panhandle of Texas – an area experiencing three consecutive years of severe drought. The group toured a local dairy operation with innovative water use practices, reviewed abiotic stress research efforts by Pioneer and the participating university programs, and visited the DuPont Pioneer drought research center in Plainview, Texas.

The DuPont Pioneer Plainview Research Center is one of a network of facilities for the business focused on the evaluation of plant genetics and irrigation management for the development of corn hybrid products and supporting agronomic practices leading to more consistent grain production in water-limited conditions.

1 J.S. Boyer, University of Delaware; P. Byrne, Colorado State University; K.G. Cassman, University of Nebraska; D. Delmer, University of California, Davis (Emeritus); D. Porter, Texas A&M University; A. Schlegel, Kansas State University; J. Sawyer, Iowa State University; T. Setter, Cornell University; R.E. Sharp, University of Missouri; T. J. Vyn, Purdue University; M. Cooper, J. Gaffney, T. Greene, J. Groeteke, F. Gruis, J. Habben, R. Lafitte, S. Paszkiewicz, J. Schussler, J. Shanahan, D. Warner; DuPont Pioneer