As the seed industry continually evolves — thanks to new developments and technology — experts in this year’s Giant Views of the Industry talk about the challenges they face and how they can be overcome. Enjoy some of the highlights of their news and insights.

Rapidly Advancing Technology

“The available technologies that relate to genetic investigation to make new varieties are shortening the time to be able to go through the number of generations. Companies can now work with instant inbreds. [They can] run it through a technique so, in two generations, they are working with pure lines. There are a lot of companies doing this, so that’s a challenge.”

—Francis Glenn, president, Glenn Seed

Environmental Challenges

“Seed treatments have really come under fire due to the so-called impact on honeybee health. This is a very complex and important topic that is not fully understood yet. I think it’s recognized that the bee population is in decline in certain areas, but is it an environmental impact, or does is have to do with the genetics of the bee or some other factor? As an industry, we need to work together on a science-based approach to understanding the issues so we can provide a solution.

—Mike Hofer, director, Seed Solutions Global, BASF

Feeding the World

“The challenge of feeding the world in the future is something we can meet with a lesser number of farms that are really well managed. Water will be the big bugaboo on available resources — bigger than the access to fertilizer. And the distribution of water through the growing system will always be the biggest problem.”

—Francis Glenn, president, Glenn Seed

Collaboration

“To be a competitor in the seed industry today, you need to be international. You need to develop a partnership in research and marketing so you can produce the best seeds in the world and understand the needs of customers.”

—Daniel Cheron, director general, Limagrain

“Collaboration has been very important. It’s time to take stock  of the ag policies that have taken place in Canada over the past 30 years and to look at what we have been able to do — which is not insignificant — with growers, government and industry.”

—Kofi Agblor, managing director, Crop Development Centre

Need for More Industry Talent

“Everything has been training regarding genetics, but I also think people need to be trained like I was so they can put all the information in a package that is a product that can go do a job in the farmers’ fields. Much research now is understanding the genetic background and chemical steps that take place, but it is the performance of the variety that takes place that remains incredibly important for the future.  We need to know where our food comes from.”

—Francis Glenn, president, Glenn Seed

“In terms of analysts, we’re still strapped in where do get our training — which is mostly on the job. When you look 10 years from now, there is a distinct generation difference and I’m concerned as we go into a more sophisticated testing regime that we are not going to have the people in place.”

—Sarah Foster, president, 20/20 Seed Labs

Social Media Benefits

“We’re accessible nearly 24 hours a day. As I think about the future, how and what we communicate and what we are able to analyze, what we at BASF want to do is offer accurate advice to our customers. In a 24/7 environment, hopefully we can communicate more effectively. Sometimes it’s challenging as well, but that’s exciting because you can talk to almost anyone around the world and hopefully offer a solution that much faster.”

—Mike Hofer, director, Seed Solutions Global, BASF

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