Bayer CropScience continues its investment in Australian agriculture

February 2014

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Access to Australia’s diverse agricultural sector, a large research base and proximity to Asian markets are key factors which underpin Bayer CropScience’s investment in Australia.

Bayer CropScience, a division of Bayer AG which recorded annual sales of € 8.8 billion in 2012, is one of the world’s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of seeds and traits, crop protection and non-agricultural pest control.

Richard Dickmann, Bayer CropScience Head of New Business Development, said, ‘The company has a global presence in over 120 countries and has operated in Australia for nearly 90 years.

‘Bayer CropScience Australia has a long history of leading innovation in sustainable agriculture and a strong focus on sales and R&D in Australia.’

Investment in Australian partnerships

Investment in Australian production and research infrastructure underpins Bayer’s agricultural business operations. Bayer operates two factories near Brisbane and Perth, ensuring year-round supply of some 400 products. The Brisbane factory is also now a major export centre suppling Asia and New Zealand.

With innovation at the heart of Bayer CropScience, Dickmann said the company has taken a long-term view of investment in research and development.

In 2014, Bayer opened a A$14 million state-of-the-art Wheat and Oilseeds Breeding Centre at Longerenong College, near Horsham, Victoria – the first of its kind in Australia. The Centre will focus on the development of new wheat and oilseeds varieties with higher yields and productivity improvements specifically for Australian agriculture.

Bayer also recently opened an Animal Health Research Centre in New Zealand which has the proximity, experience and focus to provide tailored solutions for the Australian market.

These investments form the critical infrastructure for all facets of Bayer’s agricultural business, including product manufacturing, crop protection, breeding, seed production and fundamental R&D.

R&D partnerships

‘Research partnerships form an integrated part of our global research efforts as we want to build the best innovations, whatever the source,’ Dickmann said.

‘The large research base in Australia means it is an excellent source for world-class agricultural innovation. Bayer partners with local research institutions to create new technology with direct use in Australia, and elsewhere in the world.’

Bayer’s Australian research partners include the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) and Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL).

The partnership with CSIRO signed in 2010, is focused on developing new generation cereal traits leading to greater yield, nutrient use efficiency and stress tolerance. In parallel, Bayer is working with the Australian National University on fundamental research on photosynthesis that could boost yield in many crops.

These relationships support the development of high-performance products and create sustainable agricultural solutions for Australian farmers. They also help to contribute significant benefits for Bayer CropScience’s three divisions – Crop Protection, Seeds and Environmental Science.

Developing new solutions

Close relationships with local researchers, as well as farmers and distribution partners enabled the identification and development of a range of cutting-edge innovations that meet the changing needs of Australian farmers and evolving biological systems.

‘In recent years, our focus has moved to low impact and targeted products that provide both an economic return and a sustainable outcome to farmers. Examples of these successful innovations include our products Sakura, Movento and Belt,’ Dickmann said.

Sakura, the new herbicide developed in Australia, provides up to 97 per cent control of ryegrass resistant to Group A, B and D herbicides and has helped increased percentage sales growth for the company. Movento and Belt underpin award winning Integrated Pest Management control systems that are sought after by the food chain and consumers.

The company continues to invest in its hybrid oilseeds business to meet demand for healthier oils and higher yields. After 12 years of breeding in Australia, Bayer’s first new hybrid canola was introduced in 2013 and a range of new varieties are scheduled for release in the coming year, boosting yields and reducing losses.

Between 2006 and 2014, Bayer CropScience will have launched 18 new products to help offset some of the challenges faced by the Australian agricultural industry. These and other developments led to Bayer being named one of BRW’s 50 most innovative companies in 2013.

Future outlook

Dickmann said Bayer CropScience Australia has an optimistic long-term view about the opportunities in Australia and continues to examine expansion.

This is being driven by the opportunities to develop new varieties in various crops because of the privatisation of Australian breeding markets, as well as increasing consumer demand in Australia and Asia for a more sustainable food supply.

‘Australia is an excellent research base that can be utilised to develop new innovation for Bayer in Australia and worldwide,’ Dickmann said.

‘The research base is strongly supported by Government funding and policies and offers world class regulatory, legal and IP systems to protect innovations.’

Dickmann’s advice to organisations considering investing in Australia is simple.

‘Investors should view Australia as a potential source of innovation rather than just a target market. Australia is a safe environment to develop and access Asian markets given its proximity to Asia.

‘Interested investors should use Austrade too. They are able to help with identifying, early on, the Government funding support options for R&D and the potential export paths from Australia.

‘For example, Austrade is currently helping us to identify potential markets for Bayer’s vegetable varieties.’

Dickmann added that demand for all of Bayer’s products developed in Australia is expected to continue to increase. He attributed this to the growing local and Asian populations and meeting the need to double Australia’s food production by 2050.