A message from the president of AgReliant Genetics, Mr. Craig Anderson
It is important to note that corn seed companies, like our Indiana-based AgReliant Genetics, are now seeing increased yields thanks to advances in genetics. We have also improved the general health and robustness of corn. This is particularly important when the climate is difficult. For example, in 2015, yields in North America were incredible despite the very wet early season, which should have had a devastating impact on the crops. This also applies to the 2012 growing season, which suffered severe drought. Both situations demonstrated corn's great genetic complexity and its ability to withstand stress. In my view, we have continued to make a number of high-level genetic improvements.
In addition to genetic traits, seed treatments, etc., it will be very important for seed companies to help farmers effectively position the products they work with. In this regard, precision agriculture technologies will be truly effective five to ten years from now, when specific products can be used according the conditions found on a particular farm.
INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY Seed companies must strike a balance between agronomic and general-health traits, economic yields and all other potential considerations. Breeders must take all of these factors into account. Today, high-technology tools are removing some of the uncertainty previously associated with traditional genetic selection. In the field of genetic selection, for instance, tools such as genomic selection and molecular markers are now available. We use technologies that help us to identify the genetic sequences associated with a plant's yield, as well as its agronomic stability and general health. Applying these technologies will help breeders continually improve corn genetics.
PRECISION AGRICULTURE We have entered the age of precision agriculture with full force. Producers are being approached by equipment companies, software developers, seed producers and suppliers of protection products. Barely knowing where to begin, producers are lost in a maze of possibilities.
In line with AgReliant's approach, we use the basic tools of precision agriculture in all of our communications and client interactions. Our goal is to help our clients get the most out of our seed products on the farm. I believe in this partnership model.
It is not enough to provide producers with precision technology tools and to simply assume that they will magically optimize all farming-related activities with no outside assistance. I firmly believe that optimization comes from partnering with experienced and trustworthy advisors. It is only under such conditions that high-tech tools, in combination with the products on offer and producers' individual practices, will generate profits and will be really incorporated into producers' day-to-day activities.
TALKING TO CONSUMERS I must acknowledge that the agricultural world has proved much better at improving products and their performance than it has been at explaining the backstory to the general public. Agriculture in the 21st century is all about efficiency and conservation; we should ensure that consumers are more aware of this. Instead, we spend much of our time (and focus much of our efforts) on improving our offer to producers and advising them on how to get the most out of our products.
We have not put enough effort into ensuring that consumers clearly understand all of the work we have invested in sustainable development. For agricultural producers, their land is all they have, and they want to maintain it in good condition. Conserving land and ensuring its long-term viability are vital activities for producers, in keeping with how they live their lives. If we are able to share this inspiring story with consumer associations, we will ensure a fuller understanding of our agricultural practices.