BASF and the Cooperative Research Centre for Polymers (CRC-P) have signed a cooperation agreement to develop a new range of advanced polymers that will help farmers better manage water and nutrients in the soil. The five-year cooperation will strengthen the research and commercial activities at Functional Crop Care, which develops solutions for stress and resource management in crop farming.

“The CRC for Polymers brings together world-class teams comprising leading researchers from the industry, Australia’s universities and government laboratories,” said Ian Dagley, Ph.D., CEO of the CRC-P. “With BASF’s expertise in agronomy and chemistry, this collaboration marks an important step in building technology and innovation leadership that demonstrates our commitment to farmers in Australia and around the world.”

An interdisciplinary team of material researchers, biologists and agricultural scientists from BASF will work together with leading research institutions in Australia. Project partners will focus on a range of polymers that optimize the growing conditions for plants in the soil. Potential products include sprays for water-repellent soils and polymers that can control the distribution of moisture in the soil. The laboratory and field trials will focus on agricultural crops.

The growing conditions in Australia, characterized by very dry phases coupled with bouts of intense rainfall, provide an excellent backdrop for this research. “Thirty percent of Australia’s cropping land is water-repellent and produces only ten percent of the nation’s broad-acre crops,” said David Blay, business director crop protection, BASF Australia and New Zealand. “We’re thrilled that this project will help farmers improve productivity in these areas.”

Markus Schmid, Ph.D., head of research and development for functional crop care, noted: “Soil science is a widely-underestimated key success factor, and it is partnerships like these that lead to innovative, cost-effective and sustainable solutions for farmers. This cooperation will further develop advanced polymer research in agriculture, an area that is crucial for meeting the needs of the future.”