Source: Bayer CropScience/Ducks Unlimited news release

Bayer CropScience and Ducks Unlimited have joined forces to launch a North American project called "Winter Cereals: Sustainability in Action."

"By working with Ducks Unlimited, we want to expand the practice of growing winter cereals across the prairies in Canada and the United States," said Bill Buckner, head of North America and President and CEO of Bayer CropScience. "We recognize winter wheat is an excellent crop that provides economic advantages to growers when included in cropping rotations while also enhancing waterfowl and other wildlife habitats."

Partnering with Ducks Unlimited under the "Winter Cereals: Sustainability in Action" program, Bayer CropScience will make a commitment of $20 million over five years to enable significant research to develop new winter wheat varieties adapted to prairie climatic conditions while providing grower incentives, technical support and education programs; promote improvements and research in agronomic practices; and conduct waterfowl and environmental research to ensure a sustainable habitat and production system.

"As leaders in the agriculture industry we see this initiative as an important and tangible part of delivering on our commitment to sustainable agriculture," Buckner said.

Winter wheat has gained a foothold on North America's prairies with growers. New varieties, improved marketing options and the agronomic advantages provided by winter wheat have made it an attractive choice for many growers.

"The goal of Ducks Unlimited and Bayer CropScience in this initiative is to support this trend by investing in innovations and grower programs," he said.

From a waterfowl conservation standpoint, one of the key limiting factors for continental waterfowl populations is a lack of nesting cover on the prairies. Ducks Unlimited Canada's research has shown that the density of hatched nests in winter wheat fields is 24 times greater than in spring wheat.

"This partnership between Bayer CropScience and Ducks Unlimited has the potential to provide unprecedented opportunities for expanding winter wheat on the prairies," said Don Young, executive vice president of Ducks Unlimited. "This is research that will not only benefit Ducks Unlimited waterfowl conservation and habitat efforts in the Prairie Pothole Region in Canada and the U.S., but also provide tremendous advantages to agricultural communities."

From an agronomic perspective, winter wheat provides economic advantages to producers when included in cropping rotations. Winter wheat can yield 10 to 30 percent higher than spring-seeded varieties, and autumn planting allows growers to spread their workload thus reducing potential production risks.

"Partnering with Bayer CropScience is a great example of how a sustainable vision for the agricultural landscape includes both profitable agriculture and habitat conservation," said Jeff Nelson, Ducks Unlimited Canada's Executive Vice President. "Ducks Unlimited Canada is dedicated to working with farmers and the agricultural industry to find pragmatic approaches to waterfowl habitat conservation."