RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — In the complex and volatile world of agronomy, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.

Local field trials have become more important than ever to help growers determine the right genetics for the soil type and select the right crop protection products to boost their bottom lines.

“We need to look more holistically at each acre to help growers integrate products to maximize their profitability,” said Michael Moss, head of Solutions Development for Syngenta. “Field trials are invaluable for testing the suite of Syngenta technologies in the real-world conditions that local growers experience.”

Syngenta partners with retailers and researchers across the country to conduct thousands of field trials each year in every state. Field trials can range from a few acres to hundreds.

“We can’t be generalists,” said Ben Hable, head of Biological Assessment for Syngenta. “The complex issues that affect yield are so local — from soil conditions to weed issues to weather patterns — that what works on a farm in Illinois is often much different from what works on a farm in Indiana.”

Field trials help Syngenta pinpoint the total-acre solutions that farmers need for their local growing conditions, added Chris Cook, head of Agronomy at Syngenta. “It’s so much more than just focusing on one herbicide or one fungicide. It’s about putting all the pieces of the puzzle together to maximize yield.”

Syngenta starts the process with early-stage field tests, which determine whether a new product that has been screened in a greenhouse will be viable in actual field conditions.

When a product passes these initial trials and Syngenta establishes application rates, the product moves into later-stage field trials to determine how it fits different geographies and local agronomic practices.

The process also takes into account year-to-year variation.

“Each growing season is unique,” Hable said. “By carefully monitoring local soil conditions, climatic conditions and other factors each year, we can better identify which Syngenta products will perform best in different situations.”

To share this information, Syngenta representatives team up with retailers to host demonstration trials, which give growers a firsthand look at how Syngenta products perform in their specific region.

“Field trials help retailers and growers best manage Syngenta products for the highest level of productivity,” said Scott Cully, a Syngenta research and development scientist for Product Evaluation.

A good field trial is not exclusively product-focused, however, noted Dennis Schroeder, a key accounts agronomist for Syngenta.

“We also want to address topical, timely agronomic issues, including resistance management strategies, to help farmers make informed decisions and maximize their returns,” he said.

To gain insights into these issues while providing credible, local data from field trials, Syngenta team members work with leading researchers at major agricultural universities across the country.

William Johnson, a professor of weed science at Purdue University, appreciates the opportunity to work with Syngenta team members and discuss timely research trials for corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.

“Syngenta does a good job of keeping its finger on the pulse of the farmer,” said Johnson, who has evaluated the efficacy of various Syngenta herbicides.

Jason Bond, an associate professor of plant pathology at Southern Illinois University, also values the opportunity to work with Syngenta.

Since 2000, he has conducted field trials with corn and soybean crops to study treatments for seedling diseases, foliar fungicides for gray leaf spot and more.

“It’s great to work with a company that’s bringing cutting-edge technology to producers,” said Bond, who noted that Syngenta fungicides always are at the top of the list for controlling crop diseases in his area. “My field trials with Syngenta give me insights into the new agronomic solutions that are coming down the road.”

Thanks to current technology, researchers and retailers are able to easily record more data and learn more from field trials today. In addition, Syngenta is realigning its internal teams and “thinking like a retailer” when it comes to creating new opportunities for sharing relevant data from the company’s numerous field trials.

“Our goal is to develop knowledge from the data and then make recommendations that our retailers and growers can easily implement,” Moss said.

For example, the hot, dry weather that hit many parts of Iowa and Illinois during corn pollination time in the summers of 2011 and 2012 provided researchers with valuable insights into how these conditions affected yield, insects and weed pressure.

Syngenta stores this data electronically within the company’s vast global network and accesses it to provide retailers in any location with the specific solutions area growers need to reduce their risk and maximize their yields.

“Today’s growers are tech-savvy and well-educated, and they want to talk to experts who can tie solutions together,” Hable said. “Syngenta is committed to utilizing the knowledge that’s generated across all the disciplines within the company, allowing us to work with retailers more effectively to solve growers’ challenges.”

Directing additional resources to field trials will allow Syngenta to provide information more quickly, Moss said.

He noted that the company’s key research efforts will continue to focus on integrated solutions, including soybean aphid management; seed treatments; insecticides, herbicides and fungicides; and elite genetics, such as hybrids with Agrisure Artesian technology, which produces up to 15 percent more corn when moisture is limited.

Robust field-testing capabilities throughout the country will remain the key to matching Syngenta technologies with local agronomic practices, Moss concluded.

“The field trials reflect our commitment to working with our retail partners to find new solutions and create more value for growers,” he said.