Biotechnology to underpin cotton crop protection and productivity


Developments in biotechnology will play a pivotal role in protecting and enhancing the productivity and sustainability of Australia’s cotton crops into the future.

That’s according to Monsanto’s Global Cotton and Specialty Crop Technology Lead, Phoong Tang, who addressed today’s Australian Cotton Conference at Broadbeach, Queensland.
Ms Tang, who is responsible for leading Monsanto’s overall portfolio strategy for cotton and specialty crops, said a rich pipeline of future products was in place to deliver solutions to Australia’s cotton growers, in the near-term and beyond.

“Monsanto is committed to bringing solutions to the farm, and the company’s current and future projects have the potential to contribute to increased yields in a sustainable way,” said Phoong, who is based at Monsanto’s Headquarters, in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

“The products we develop from our pipeline will be used by growers in integrated systems that include seeds, agronomic practices and other inputs to reduce the impact of pests and stress and improve yield opportunity and profitability.”

Phoong outlined some of the products and concepts that Monsanto is currently developing for application in Australian cotton farming systems.

“One of the most exciting products in development is our first generation of cotton with improved water use efficiency,” Ms Tang said.

“It is already showing promising results under both irrigated and dry growing conditions in field testing.

“By minimising risk, and providing yield stability, we believe this will help farmers continue to meet the growing demand for cotton fibre.”

Other products in the pipeline are focused on delivering greater crop protection against insect pests and competitive weeds.

“We are working on a dicamba- and glufosinate-tolerant cotton that would represent Monsanto’s first three-way stack of herbicide-tolerant technologies. The product would provide cotton growers with the most effective weed management system available,” Phoong said.

“Expected to be released in the near-term is Bollgard® III, which heralds the next generation of insect protection.

“Trials have shown that Bollgard® III enhances the insect protection of earlier Bollgard® II and INGARD products to provide multiple modes of action that support industry efforts to contain the development against resistance in significant caterpillar pests.”

Ms Tang told conference delegates that much anticipation surrounds the early development of Monsanto's new BioDirect™ technology. These agricultural biologicals are typically topical or seed treatment products that are used to complement or replace agricultural chemical products.

The BioDirect™ technology eventually could be used to identify new opportunities for current herbicides, create better insect control options, and offer new virus-control tools.

Ms Tang said Monsanto was working with the broader industry to create systems-based products that would contribute to total yield improvement.

“We are looking at products that are components of a more comprehensive agronomic package for cotton growers.

“An example of a systems-based pipeline product is our DroughtGard™ Hybrid corn product, which combines germplasm selected for its drought-tolerant characteristics with Monsanto’s biotechnology drought-tolerance trait and agronomic practice recommendations for the farmer to help protect yield potential.

“As we create systems-based products, their components (ie seed and agronomic solutions) must be developed jointly in a system to ensure we deliver our desired product performance.

“Monsanto’s technology organisation is working in new ways across our research and development pipeline to develop these systems.

“We are converging our breeding and biotechnology platforms to develop total packages of genes that target specific qualities to drive or protect yield. These efforts are also being integrated with expanded research efforts in our agronomic solutions platforms that include chemistry and Integrated Farming Systems™ to help deliver new on-farm systems for total yield improvement.”

Media inquiries please contact: Keryn McLean, Corporate Affairs, 03 9522 7199

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