Growers, retailers and crop advisors turned up for Syngenta Canada’s NK Showcase on Aug. 24 despite clouds and light drizzle north of London.
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A series of “education stations” offered insight into the company’s commitment to seed technology through investments in innovation and performance.
Research and development was a key term during the day, with Dan Wright, head of seeds for Syngenta Canada, opening the event with a breakdown of the company’s direction.
He referred to revitalization of the Arva Research Station facilities, where office buildings will be closed next month to allow for renovations.
“Our whole facility here, that you’re going to see today, will look brand new from what it was within the past year,” said Wright, adding the site has been the company’s home for 30 years.
“The focus you’re going to hear from our team all day long is the focus on seed, on innovation and adding value for you as farmers and for retailers. That’s all we think about all day long and making that happen from a Canadian standpoint.”
Wright also noted the Arva site’s connection to Syngenta’s North American development chain. As good as the breeders are at Arva and other sites in Canada, he said, there’s further value provided by the link to other researchers and facilities in the U.S.
In fact, a brief video mentioned expansions to the company’s Slater, Iowa, facility, the trait integration centre in Nampa, Idaho, a 136,000 square-foot state-of-the-art greenhouse and a new R&D innovation centre in Malta, Illinois.
“What we try to do is link and leverage to the things that are going on as a North American business,” said Wright. “But it’s about being able to do what we need to do that’s specific to Canada. We get to experiment, to do things a little different and things that are harder to do on a North American basis.
“That’s what I’ve enjoyed in four years with Syngenta: being able to make decisions and changes and do what we do to add value for Canadian growers as we build into the market and refocus our overall seed business.”
Eric Boeck, Syngenta’s regional director of seeds for North America, highlighted some of the company’s goals.
In 2018, Syngenta invested $400 million into its business and is now investing in research and development across the seed, seed treatment and crop protection sectors, to the tune of more than $2 billion annually.
“I’ve been in the seed industry for about 30 years and this is one of the most exciting times I’ve had in my career, working in the seed industry, because of all the innovation,” said Boeck.
“We like to say 100 per cent of everything we’re doing in research and product development is completely different than it was five years ago. You’re going to see a lot more about that today, in speed and precision and power.”
After the opening comments, the gathering was separated into five smaller groups and rotated through different “education stations.”
Station 1 addressed Syngenta’s soybean disease screening, including coverage of the three primary diseases: phytophthora root rot, sudden death syndrome and soybean cyst nematode. Station 2 dealt with young plant care using Syngenta seed treatments. Station 3 introduced the STEPP (Strategic Testing for Effective Product Placement) trials.
Station 4 offered a chance to explore some in-season agronomic challenges and Station 5 had a breakdown of changes to Syngenta’s soybean breeding program, and the speed with which they bring new varieties to market.