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
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
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
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
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
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
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