When Apple, Inc. launches a new product innovation, like the iPhone 5 or iPad Mini devices, users line up to buy it. Then, once they get it, they spend some time at Apple store's Genius Bar, with a salesperson or visit online sites to learn the tricks and tips on the new features.
With the pending launch of a Monsanto product innovation, like the pending Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, Monsanto takes a different approach.
"Before they use the product, we want to give our valued partners dealers, retailers, licensees and farmer customers the opportunity to arm themselves with the knowledge on how to use the product, said Roundup Ready Xtend System Launch Manager Michelle Vigna, referring to Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, which will be tolerant to glyphosate and dicamba herbicides. The soybeans are under regulatory review. "That's why we have established 19 Roundup Ready Learning Xperience sites throughout the United States.
The 19 Roundup Ready Learning Xperience sites are interactive and educational sessions for seed dealers, ag retailers, farmers and Monsanto representatives. While Monsanto personnel present information about several topics, such as Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, Roundup Ready PLUS Weed Management Solutions, the use of a dicamba-glyphosate premix herbicide and application requirements, the visitors to the sites are encouraged to participate in the discussions and ask questions.
"We want to have conversations with farmers and key stakeholders about our pipeline products before they are launched, said Sara Allen, a technology development representative at the Collinsville, Ill., Roundup Ready Learning Xperience site. "The Roundup Ready Learning Xperience sites enable these interactions and bring the discussion about the challenges of weed control and the opportunities for additional technologies--to the field.
"Farmers, dealers and ag retailers are well-aware as is Monsanto of glyphosate-resistant weeds and the problems they can pose, said Vigna. "Soybean and cotton farmers have told us they need more tools to control the weeds. Future products that are pending regulatory approvals, like Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton, Roundup Xtend and XtendiMax herbicides, are product innovations that can help.
Many of the Roundup Ready Learning Xperience sites were chosen because of their proximity to locations with glyphosate-resistant weeds. For example, in Collinsville, the site is located within one of five Southern Illinois counties with confirmed glyphosate-resistant Palmer Amaranth, or pigweed, populations. Farmers, seed dealers and ag retailers can learn about the weed management recommendations from Monsanto representatives to control problem weeds and establish better weed management plans.
"The reality is various weeds have developed some type of resistance to different herbicides over the years, Allen said. "When a weed develops resistance, it diminishes the impact of a weed management tool for a farmer. We have to throw curve balls and change-ups at weeds in order to make the herbicide products sustainable. The Roundup Ready Learning Xperience sites aim to help farmers understand the available tools and use them effectively and wisely.
Seed dealers, ag retailers and farmer associations are the target audiences of the Roundup Ready Learning Xperience sites in 2013. Applicators and farmers will be invited in 2014, in continued preparation of the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System launch, pending regulatory approvals.