A moisture utilization study conducted by Monsanto this season has provided a unique look at how YieldGard(R) Plus Corn roots are able to effectively absorb subsoil moisture under dry conditions.

The study involved placement of 60 moisture probes at five different locations across the Corn Belt to compare the root performance of YieldGard Plus plants with YieldGard Corn Borer hybrids protected by soil-applied insecticides. The probes, extending five feet underground, were in place from mid-June through September, providing data every 15 minutes on relative water density at different soil depths. Based on these readings during the growing season, root depth and water absorption could be monitored.

According to Clint Pilcher, Monsanto Corn Technology Development Manager, test results demonstrated that YieldGard Plus hybrids, with in-plant rootworm control, developed longer, healthier roots than soil insecticide-protected corn, which in turn resulted in significantly better moisture uptake.

"Before, we had to rely on root digs to observe root growth and rootworm feeding patterns," Pilcher said. "These moisture probes help us understand what the roots are experiencing below ground. YieldGard Plus protects the roots, allowing them to go deeper into the soil profile, which improves water use efficiency compared to conventional hybrids treated with a soil insecticide."

Improved water utilization, Pilcher added, has contributed to the average 14.6 bushel-per-acre yield advantage that YieldGard Rootworm and YieldGard Plus corn hybrids achieved across the Corn Belt this season compared to soil insecticide-protected hybrids based on over 500 comparisons in 2006.

The Monsanto probes were part of a "stress mitigation" study during the 2006 season, demonstrating how YieldGard Plus is able to help reduce the stress of dry weather on corn plants. Most of the moisture probes were placed in Monsanto stress mitigation plots, which were grown under 40-foot by 50-foot tents with a clear vinyl top that allowed the corn plants to receive sunlight but not rain. Under these simulated dry conditions, YieldGard Plus corn hybrids achieved a 31.2 bushel-per-acre yield advantage over soil-insecticide protected corn.

Monsanto's YieldGard Rootworm Corn technology was introduced in 2003 and YieldGard Plus was launched in 2004. YieldGard Plus contains both rootworm and corn borer technologies providing farmers with above and below ground insect protection. In 2006, Monsanto's YieldGard Rootworm and YieldGard Plus technologies were used by more than 60,000 U.S. corn farmers to protect yield on more than 10 million acres.

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Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. For more information on Monsanto, see: http://www.monsanto.com.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company