Bayer celebrated the first visit of a high-level delegation from the Australian Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) at a ceremony at its Frankfurt site, where the company's global weed control research activities are concentrated. In June last year, the two companies signed their Herbicide Innovation Partnership (HIP), an innovative cooperation model to jointly discover next-generation weed control solutions.

This five-year agreement funded with AUD 45 million over five years has led to 39 scientists now being employed at Bayer's Frankfurt site. Besides welcoming the scientists, Bayer and GRDC inaugurated the new research laboratories in Frankfurt.

The recently renovated facilities have a surface area of approximately 1,100 m2 and include labs and offices for more than 30 chemists and lab technicians, including eleven new postdoctoral researchers from Australia and New Zealand, who will work on possible solutions against weeds.

In the presence of the Australian Consul General David C. Campbell and Professor Stephen Powles, Director of Australia's Herbicide Resistance Initiative, Bayer and GRDC representatives exchanged experiences and discussed current developments and challenges in global weed control. One major focus of the discussion dealt with the dramatic increase of herbicide-resistant weeds across the globe.

In the past 15 years, global weed resistance has increased by 60 percent so that a quarter of the worst and most common weeds are already resistant. At the same time, no new herbicide mode of action has been discovered and none are expected to be discovered in the near future.

"We firmly believe that collaboration models like the Partnership between the GRDC and Bayer will make the difference in the battle against weeds," said Liam Condon, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and head of the Crop Science Division. "In the light of the challenges to increasing productivity and sustainability in crop production, it is even more important that we collaborate in order to accelerate research activities. This greatly increases the probability of success."

"We are pleased to be in Frankfurt to acknowledge this important milestone in the Herbicide Innovation Partnership," stated Richard Clark, Chairman of the GRDC. "Growers have consistently told us that managing resistant and poorly controlled weeds is the biggest problem they face.

By highlighting the significance of the challenge, through regional panels and cropping solution groups, growers have directly influenced the research focus of the GRDC and the global innovation company Bayer, for the benefit of their local farming community. We acknowledge our growers and also the industry for its support of this collaboration. We believe this partnership will put Australian farms at the forefront of tackling herbicide resistance."

Herbicide resistance is an increasing problem in Australia and worldwide

Weeds are the single most important reason for crop losses globally, causing high management costs and threatening food security. In Australia, herbicide resistance started around 30 years ago. The rapid evolution of resistant weeds such as ryegrass, wild radish and others is threatening Australian wheat production. Similar problems in European agriculture are being caused by multiresistant grass weeds like black grass and wild oats. New tools such as novel herbicidal molecules with resistance-breaking properties are therefore urgently required.

"It is good to see this partnership between Bayer and GRDC," said Professor Stephen Powles, Director of Australia's Herbicide Resistance Initiative, during the event. "The world needs new herbicides as well as state-of-the-art herbicide resistance knowledge and understanding to help us mitigate, manage and minimize herbicide resistance."

The challenge of weed resistance to herbicides has affected weed science by influencing views on the sustainability of weed management practices, the search for new modes of action, the development of new herbicides, and how weed scientists need to be trained and connected within the global community of farmers, agronomists and researchers.

Post-doc program helps expand scientific know-how

The cooperation between Bayer and GRDC includes a post-doc program which will help expand scientific know-how among Australian researchers by providing training in advanced industrial research techniques. Nine post-doctoral chemists from Australia and two from New Zealand recently started their two-year contracts at Bayer's weed research center in Frankfurt and are working on promising research projects in chemistry, biochemistry and biology.

Integrated Weed Management: Bayer's global approach for weed control

Beyond the HIP, the Weed Resistance Competence Center (WRCC) located in Frankfurt am Main is another cornerstone of Bayer's global strategy to combat weed resistance. The WRCC collaborates with a number of scientific bodies like the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) and the Australian Research Council (ARC). It is today an integral part of Bayer's scientific approach to Integrated Weed Management (IWM) and is perfectly complemented by the new strategic collaboration with the GRDC.

The IWM program offers farmers customized solutions for weed control through cutting-edge seeds, crop protection products and a wide range of services such as diagnostic tools and prediction models. It promotes best management practices in local initiatives.

For a virtual tour of the WRCC simply visit our Bigger Picture at http://wrcc.thebiggerpicture.bayer.com/

Get more information on Bayer's IWM program here:
http://www.cropscience.bayer.com/en/Commitment/Integrated-Weed-Management/Press-Section.aspx.