Bayer Announces New Partnerships for Sustainable Agriculture and Crop Spraying Technology
LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - Bayer has innovation on the brain, with the recent announcements of two major partnerships to forge the path in agriculture. Bayer will join forces with Ginkgo Bioworks to create a new company and push sustainable ag forward. In addition, the company is working with Bosch to develop new, digital Smart Spraying solutions.
In Bayer’s joint venture with Gingko Bioworks, Dr. Mike Miille will be named interim CEO of the yet-to-be-named company. The entity will focus on beneficial microbes for plants to provide growers with next generation solutions to their biggest challenges.
"The plant microbiome is one of the next frontiers in sustainable agriculture," said Axel Bouchon, Head of the Bayer Life Science Center. "And it may enable us to take a major leap in plant physiology: producing nitrogen fertilizer directly in the plant. We are excited to combine state-of-the-art plant science and leading microbial technology to help tackle this challenge. With Ginkgo we have found the best-in-class partner to achieve this fundamental breakthrough."
The deal provides a Series A investment of USD 100 million by Bayer, Ginkgo, and Viking Global Investors LP. In addition, Gingko will provide exclusive access to existing labs and offices, and build a new company-specific facility, while Bayer will contribute exclusive access to proprietary microbial strains. Closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions and expected to occur in the fall of 2017. Hiring for the new company is currently underway.
"Accessing the microbiome is part of Bayer’s innovation strategy. We are launching this enterprise to develop transformative agricultural products based on the latest synthetic biology technology," said Kemal Malik, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and responsible for Innovation. "We have exclusively partnered with Ginkgo to build a leading player in this field."
In its second new partnership, Bayer and Bosch have signed a three-year research collaboration agreement with the objective of developing Smart Spraying technology to make the application of crop protection products more efficient.
"We want to venture together with Bosch into new territory, combining different technologies to ensure that herbicides are only applied in areas where they are really necessary," says Tobias Menne, Head of Digital Farming at Bayer.
According to a press release, this is how the new spraying technology will work: before the farmer sets off for a field, a digital "Field Manager" helps them assess the situation on the field and recommends the optimum timing for treating the weeds. Accurate identification of the weeds and application of the crop protection agent are performed in a single work step while driving over the respective area.
To this end, several cameras distributed over the entire working width of the field sprayer continually take pictures of the surface. The different weeds are identified and the optimum method for treating them is determined. The final step involves spraying the necessary quantity and mix of herbicide on the appropriate weeds using the right application parameters, while weed-free areas are left untouched. The process is incredibly fast, taking just fractions of a second.
"Smart Spraying constitutes a quantum leap in weed control,” according to Björn Kiepe, Head of Agronomy in Digital Farming at Bayer. “We are combining state-of-the-art weed detection technology with the means of applying different agents on a case-by-case basis and extremely accurately on an area of less than one meter. This will make it even easier for farmers to practice sustainable crop protection."
As Bayer continues to light up the industry with new innovations and partnerships, AndNowUKnow will be there to report.