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A lot of people talk about investing in the future. Bayer CropScience is doing it. While in Monheim, Professor Friedrich Berschauer, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience AG, told participants in the 2009 Herbicide Innovations Tour that his company is doig just that. Their three businesses: Crop Protection, Seeds & Traits and Plant Biotechnology - are well positioned and provide farmers with intelligent and sustainable solutions to safeguard harvests and increse yields. Bayer CropScience will invest a total of 3.4 billion Euro in research and development between 2008 and 2012. Almost 2.7 billion of this sum will be allocated to R & D into innovative crop protection active ingredients, and 750 million to developing new seed and plant biotechnology.
By the way, Dr. Berschauer teaches at University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim.
Our Bayer CropScience Herbicide Innovations Tour group spent the day in Heidelberg. We took a guided tour through old town and walked up to the Heidelberg Castle for lunch. Despite the rain with some snow and sleet mixed in, everyone enjoyed the tour and history told and played out by local actors.
Our Bayer CropScience hosts sure know how to give us a flavor of Germany. Once we wrapped up our site tour at Monheim and tour of BayKomm in Leverkusen, we boarded the bus and traveled to a small village where we then boarded a boat for a lunch cruise. The boat, "La Paloma" provided excellent views of villages along the Rhine, several castles and vineyards on the hillside.
Yes, it rained during much of the cruise, but as Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Agronomist on this trip said, "There is certainly a wow-factor in this!"
Jeff Springsteen is one of our hosts on the 2009 Bayer CropScience Herbicide Innovations Tour. He oversees marketing for corn and soybean herbicides. He sat down with me this evening to talk about new products, capsulizing the presentation he gave to the group yesterday during the first day at Monheim.
BayKomm is a showcase of Bayer's diverse product lines. Pronounced "Buyer" in Germany, many people know Bayer because of aspirin or crop science. But there's a lot more. During a tour of BayKomm today, our guide explained that the plastic polymers in Lego blocks, fiber in sails on boats, and even the "wood" in many sailboats is a plastic polymer from Bayer. The guide whipped up a batch of "foam" for us today - the kind you spray to insulate and pointed out Bayer is responsible for engineering many materials for leisure and sports - including heat sensitive ski boots that "mold" to your feet and ankles which can save you from breaking an ankle.
We toured the Bayer CropScience Monheim site today, going through insecticide research and the development area. When conducting research to find the "ideal" product, there are four main "goals" that must be met in research:
User friendliness - low toxicity, good formulation qualities, compatibility with other plants, low dosage and good storage stability.
Efficacy, which is biological and broad spectrum, rapid onset of activity and good residual effect.
Environmental compatibility - high selectivity, little or no leaching.
Economic aspects - favorable, cost/benefit ratio, patentability, competitiveness, broad spectrum of application and innovative product profile.
An interesting nuggest from the tour: investment for complete development of a new compound is $200 million euros.
Winter came back to Germany! Monday was cold, blustery - and wet - for the group's first visit to Monheim, where 800 people work for Bayer. Regulations prevent recording of presentations or taking photographs, so I caught up with three of the presenters this evening (Tuesday) upon our arrival in Heidelberg.
Andy Hurst is product manager for Ignite and Liberty Link (6 min., mp3)
Brent Philbrook is product development manager for selective herbicides (7 min., mp3)
Our meal this evening was at the "Uerige" in Duesseldorf. Beer is brewed there and German fare served. The agronomists, weed scientists, media and representatives of Bayer CropScience enjoyed a nice evening together before heading back to the hotel to catch some shut-eye before heading out to Bayer CropScience Monheim facilities bright and early tomorrow morning.
It's nearing midnight and time for this globetrotting blogger to head off to bed. For some, falling to sleep is a challenge because in the Midwest, it is not quite 6pm. I hope I can sleep, because we have a big day tomorrow!
One of the biggest treats of traveling is the opportunity to taste the "culinary diversity." Much of what we will taste in Germany, many of us on this Bayer CropScience Innovations Tour have had before. As we sat down to brunch after a brisk tour of Duesseldorf today, the discussion centered on the meats and the familiarity of them for those of us whose heritage is German.