It was a busy two days in Frankfurt, Germany, as more than 200 key agricultural leaders from around the globe assembled for a series of presentations and panel discussions that brought to the forefront the key challenges and opportunities for the world’s corn and soybean producers.
“The goal of our Future Forum program is to bring together stakeholders for specific crops,” says Mathias Kremer, head of strategy for Bayer CropScience. “Basically, we cannot solve the huge challenges that face agriculture alone…not one farmer nor one institution. We must join forces, collaborate and speak in one voice.”
Participants represented associations (leaders from the National Corn Growers Association and American Soybean Association were in attendance and gave presentations), producers, industry and research (public and private). Farm Industry News was one of a handful of media outlets in attendance.
For Bayer CropScience, this is the first corn- and soybean-specific conference of its kind. The company has held similar conferences that centered on fruit and vegetable production, as well as cereals.
“What we want to do is bring the people who are shaping global agriculture to the table in an open and transparent dialogue to discuss the topics that will face our industry,” Kremer says.
Kevin Cavanaugh, director of research for Beck’s Hybrids, says the initial takeaway from the conference was the tremendous global footprint of agriculture. “I have met a lot of producers from many different countries,” Cavanaugh says. “Yet they all have similar needs and thoughts. All participants in the ag industry want to move forward, because along with the opportunities there are many challenges ahead to feed a growing population. Agriculture is a very global endeavor.”
Kyle Maple, senior director for seed marketing at WinField Solutions, echoed one of the featured speakers at the conference: “It’s a great time to be in agriculture, and an even better time to be involved in corn and soybean production,” he says. “Those of us in agriculture need to look at ways to work together so we can continue to deliver the feed, food and fiber to support a growing population. Dialogues like this allow us to share ideas and concerns.”
Maple says one highlight of the visit to Frankfurt was a tour of Bayer CropScience’s herbicide research facility and gaining key insight into how companies like Bayer are working to develop comprehensive solutions that face producers. “There is a tremendous effort to develop not only new technologies, but comprehensive solutions for producers,” he says.
A panel discussion that generated a lot of interest was on the topic of data management in agriculture. It was a hot topic for several in the audience, with questions regarding how the mountains of data being generated can be shared while also remaining secure.
“Data management looks to be a very challenging issue ahead,” Maple says. “There will need to be additional dialogue so farmers know that the data they are sharing to make better, more informed decisions is secure,” Maple says.
Cavanaugh noted that communication, not only within agriculture but with consumers, will be imperative moving forward. “We need to communicate with those not involved in agriculture to tell our story,” he says. “That’s not just presenting the scientific facts, but ensuring that the consumer understands what we are doing to benefit mankind.”
Innovation in all aspects of agriculture
“The innovation we have in agriculture is simply amazing,” Cavanaugh says. “I work in research all the time, but I work in the narrow scope of improving seed genetics. But there are innovations for crop production that go well beyond genetics, including equipment, crop protection products and controlling management variables.”
Kremer says early responses from the conference were very positive. “At the end of the day, this is about solving the challenges that face agriculture. And there are a lot of challenges that no one person or company can solve alone. We can do it better with innovation, better science, data management, and sustainable, responsible crop production. There has never been a better time to be in corn and soybean production.”
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