1800s AG-TECH INNOVATION WORLDWIDE
Innovation and rapid adoption of changing technology are characteristic of agriculture in Australia. The Machine Age and Industrial Revolution were well under way – innovation was predominantly focused on machinery and the efficient mechanisation of labour.
One famous Australian invention was known as ‘Ridley’s Stripper’ – a mechanical reaper of wheat invented in 1844 by John Ridley. This innovation greatly increased the efficiency of the harvest and minimised manual labour.
Another Australian innovation in agriculture was the adeptly named ‘stump-jump plough’. Developed by brothers Richard and Clarence Smith in 1876, this plough’s hinged tines allowed it to rise out of the ground and carry on smoothly when it encountered a stump or root in scrub-land cleared for cropping.
Industrial invention was closely linked with advances in engineering and chemistry, the second of which became the basis for “Friedrich Bayer et. Comp” in Germany in 1863. What began as a laboratory for the synthesisation of fabric dyes for commercial use would later branch out into numerous fields of chemistry.
20th CENTURY – INNOVATION TRAVELS
After a period of 19th Century innovation focussed largely on the mechanisation of labour, agricultural science of the 20th Century honed in on the chemistry of crop protection – and the potential for these minute, specific chemical combinations to effect global change. Bayer’s reach as a company expanded hugely in this time – including all the way to Australia.
Bayer’s roots in the textile industry are in fact particularly relevant to the company’s expansion into crop protection. The study of textile pests required extensive research on plant fibres, in order to create Bayer’s first pesticides against plant lice and bed bugs.
Bayer opens the Biological institute of the Crop protection Experimental Unit to expand agrochemical research and develop products specifically for farm use. Having developed its first seed fungicide in 1915, Bayer now expanded research to include greenhouses and open field research, so that the efficacy of products could be measured in normal farming conditions.
Bayer’s scientific innovations in crop protection first made their way to Australia in 1927, where they could be found for sale at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. This paved the way for dozens of innovative crop protection products to be developed and registered for use in Australian farming over the last 90 years. The unique nature of Australia’s agricultural conditions has made the nation a leader in crop science research.
Bayer establishes an on-the-ground presence in the US and South America, developing and manufacturing agro-chemicals.
Subsidiaries are set up in the Asia-Pacific region with the establishment of the Bayer China Company and the Bayer Far East Company.
Bayer introduces ‘Bayleton®’ to the market, a fungicide with incredibly successful results for threatened wheat and barley crops in Australia and New Zealand.
21st CENTURY – TECHNOLOGY, SCIENCE AND DATA UNITE
As technology and science continue to advance rapidly and create new opportunities for the future of agriculture, it is essential to invest in innovation in order to reap the best possible results. Bayer has continued to facilitate and develop new ways to optimise Australia’s agricultural potential – which will become increasingly important if Australia is to become a major contributor to world food security for a growing global population.
In 2002, Bayer CropScience was brought to the Australian agricultural industry. The merger of Bayer and Aventis CropScience resulted in the first legally independent Bayer subgroup, which comprises three major sectors: crop protection, seeds and environmental science. This merger capitalised on Aventis CropScience’s strong presence in traditional crop protection, combined with Bayer’s wealth of data and research across a broad portfolio of most major crops. Bayer CropScience became the grower-focussed entity that it is to this day: Your Partner for Growth.
A GAME CHANGER IN GRAINS
2012 – Sakura
In 2012, Bayer was able to bring the game-changing herbicide – Sakura® – to wheat farming in Australia. Its effectiveness in the control of annual ryegrass in wheat crops – even grasses which had proved herbicide-resistant in the past – set a new standard for crop reliability. It has also become an invaluable part of diversifying herbicide rotations in order to combat further weed resistance to herbicides.
BUILDING FOR INNOVATION
2014 Wheat & Oilseeds Breeding Centre
On February 12, 2014, Bayer opened a state of the art Wheat & Oilseeds Breeding Centre. The Centre is the first of its kind not only in Australia but in the entire southern hemisphere, and is located at Victorian agricultural education institution Longerenong College, near Horsham. The Centre’s primary aim is ‘to bring together all the technologies that Bayer has access to globally’ in order to improve the available varieties and ‘give local farmers the tools to remain competitive in a changing economic climate.’ Ties to agricultural education are also essential, fostering a close relationship between developments in science, research technology, and the future of the Australian industry.
FIGHTING POD SHATTER, INCREASING YIELD
2014/2015 – PodGuard ®
Harvest can make or break a canola crop – literally. In the past pod shatter as a result of hot, dry, windy conditions prior to or during harvest or varying levels of crop maturation due to soil diversity during harvest has led to substantial losses in crop yields, . This has left growers with a very narrow window in which to harvest canola crops, and has meant that many will err on the side of caution and harvest earlier than they would like to. PodGuard is a new trait technology developed by Bayer to reduce pod shatter tendencies and allow farmers to harvest when the crop has reached full maturation. This is an important step towards long term sustainable farming practices, reducing crop waste and improving the efficiency of labour during harvest.
NURTURING THE INNOVATORS OF THE FUTURE
A large part of Bayer’s work centres on establishing platforms that will allow for sustainable agricultural practices to meet the needs of the future. Education is essential in meeting this goal, by providing spaces in which future innovation has room to grow.
CSIRO – Sustainable Futures
Bayer has had a long and very successful partnership with CSIRO, supporting a range of educational programs to engage young Australians in the future of science and sustainable environmental practices. Over 450 Australian schools have now registered with the program, which offers students a range of activities to encourage critical thinking about environmental challenges, and provides a practical, real life application of science.
The 2015 Youth Ag Summit in Canberra was one such initiative, an educational program designed to support, encourage and inspire 18-25-year-olds from across the world, who will lead the next generation of agricultural innovation into the future.
BRINGING NEW CHEMISTRY TO AUSTRALIA
Luna sensation is a brand new and unique product for chemical control of in-crop diseases, targeting apples, pears, stone fruit and almonds. The exceptional in-field disease control provided by this new chemistry not only safeguards the health of fruit, but can also result in a longer, more robust shelf life after harvest.
THE POWER OF DATA
As agriculture in the 21st Century moves increasingly towards data-driven planning highly specific science, Bayer is seeing remarkable results following decisions to invest in research and data in the recent past.
The Prosaro scale is a 2015 Bayer innovation designed to help growers manage fungal disease in canola. The scale utilises daily rainfall and temperature data, which can be aligned with precise area postcodes, to predict the onset of seasonal conditions suitable for disease spread and infection. This technology exemplifies Bayer’s aims moving forward – combining incredibly specific, localised data with the relevant scientific research in order to provide an individually tailored solution.
Weed resistance mapping
The development of weed resistance mapping tools is highly indicative of the payoff now being delivered by Bayer initiatives. Data gleaned from the analysis of weed seed samples sent in over the last ten years has enabled Bayer to put together a database of regions affected by herbicide resistance. This can be used to map a decade-long progression of herbicide resistance and analyse a range of outcomes in affected areas.
Bayer is at the forefront of an international effort to implement a system of integrated weed management. The success of weed management cannot be measured simply looking at the results of a single season – herbicide resistance is a cumulative and increasing problem. Bayer is taking a proactive role in preventative action, having launched the ‘Diversity Can’t Wait’ program in 2014. This program is a way of sharing Bayer’s comprehensive research and information on herbicide rotation, crop diversity, soil cultivation and numerous other aspects of integrated weed management.
IPM – Biologics
Integrated pest management is a highly innovative sector of Bayer’s work, using the latest research to combine biological control, chemical control and cultural control of pests in a way that optimises natural defences in tandem with new chemistry, whilst ensuring minimal environmental impact. Bayer frequently partners with other research-driven organisations to offer a broad range of solutions suited to varying situations and crop threats.
Collaboration in innovation is a primary goal for Bayer in Australia, as a proud partner of numerous leading research institutions across a range of programs. Bayer’s collaborations include work with CSIRO, the GRDC, Longerenong College and the University of Western Australia. Research, innovation, and awareness are key to moving forwards in agriculture and reaching the 21st Century’s potential.
Herbicide Innovation Partnership
March 2016 has seen the launch of a world-first lab in Frankfurt as part of a partnership between Bayer and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), a leading Australian agricultural research organisation. The Herbicide Innovation Partnership marks a new kind of collaboration that is specifically focused on grower needs within the Australian environment, with considerable research funding having been supplied by those working within the Australian agriculture industry. This five-year research partnership is dedicated to targeting the world’s biggest agricultural challenge – herbicide resistant weeds – as part of an international effort towards future world food security.
#BAYERINNOVATION - PART OF OUR PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
In the pioneering spirit of Australian agriculture, Bayer is committed to innovation and progressive, sustainable farming practices. The 21st century has so far seen huge advances in the use of data, new chemistry and digitally driven agriculture, with Bayer as an international leader in the field. Australia’s history of progressive agricultural innovation, and Bayer’s own history in scientific breakthroughs, makes for the perfect relationship between contemporary Australian agriculture and the specifically tailored work undertaken by Bayer.