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Gert Kema has been appointed Professor of Tropical Phytopathology at Wageningen University. Kema will study the interaction between tropical crops and pathogenic microorganisms. Kema is currently researching the global problems of disease in bananas from various disciplines, with a particular focus on genetic diversity and how it affects crop protection. He will be exploring the opportunities of this multidisciplinary approach for other crops, particularly cacao and coffee. The chair Tropical Phytopathology will operate as part of the Laboratory of Phytopathology of Wageningen University, headed by Bart Thomma. Kema will also continue working in the Business Unit Biointeractions & Plant Health of Wageningen UR.

DuPont Seed Treatment Enterprise fills two key posts within its global business to help propel continued growth. Matthew Mouw is named commercial unit director, DuPont Seed Treatment Enterprise (DSTE). He is responsible for representation and sale of DuPont seed treatment products to seed companies. Mouw will continue to manage select commercial relationships and foster integration between DSTE and DuPont Biologicals Venture. His team includes regional business managers Marc Treurniet, North America; David Tassara, Latin America; Thierry Remy, EMEA; and Andrew Brown and Howard Liu, Asia Pacific. Bryan Cheng has been named global portfolio manager, DSTE. He will lead commercial launch and management of fungicide seed treatments.

Advanta Seeds, a leading international supplier of proprietary agricultural crop genetics and seed has added Jose Manuel Garcia as Business Manager — Mexico. In his new role, Garcia will be responsible for managing all aspects of the Advanta Seeds Mexico business. He will lead market intelligence components, including market trends, competitive landscape and product positioning as well as customer needs assessments. Garcia is also responsible for the coordination of all sales, marketing, planning and customer relation activities in Mexico with Advanta Seeds management and field staff.

Evogene Ltd., has appointed Eyal Leibovitz as chief financial officer. Leibovitz will replace Sigal Fattal who has been with the company since June 2012. Leibovitz will report to Ofer Haviv, Evogene’s president and CEO, and will have executive responsibility for all corporate functions of the company. Leibovitz brings with him an extensive background in senior management, finance, investor relations, M&A and business development in international companies headquartered in both Israel and the United States.

Paul Rea, has been appointed as senior vice president of BASF Crop Protection, North America. Rea started with the company in 2001 as national sales manager at BASF Australia. In 2004, he moved to the United States as a global marketing manager and held several positions of increasing responsibility, including director of the U.S. Professional and Specialty Solutions division and vice president, U.S. Crop Operations. Most recently, Rea spent two years as the senior vice president, Crop Protection, Asia-Pacific in Singapore before returning to the U.S.

Martin Petersen is joining SynTech Research as director, global business development and sales. Petersen will be based at SynTech’s global headquarters in Stilwell, Kansas in the United States. Petersen has had a career lasting over 30 years in the ag-chemical business with Helena Chemical, Bayer CropScience, Gowan Co. and Cheminova (FMC), during which he has held senior management positions, most recently as managing director of Cheminova in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He has wide international experience, having worked in the U.S., Europe, Brazil and South Africa, during which time he has developed considerable knowledge of crop science business globally.

DuPont has announced new executive leadership changes in order to streamline the company for growth and simplify the organisation. James Collins, executive vice president, will lead the DuPont Agriculture business segment. Marc Doyle has been named executive vice president and will lead the Electronics & Communications, Industrial Biosciences, Nutrition & Health, Performance Materials and Safety & Protection business segments. Richard C. Olson has been named senior vice president – Corporate Services and will assume responsibility for the Safety, Health & Environment, Operational Excellence, Facility Services & Real Estate, Sourcing & Logistics and Information Technology functions. Douglas Muzyka, senior vice president and chief science and technology officer, adds responsibility for Engineering Technologies and the company’s regional leadership. In addition to the leadership changes, James Borel, executive vice president and Gary Spitzer, senior vice president, Integrated Operations and Engineering have elected to retire following 36 years of service with DuPont, respectively, effective in early 2016.

Business News

Rijk Zwaan Hellas has taken over the sales activities previously handled by the Rijk Zwaan distributor Agrosystem. Rijk Zwaan expects this new subsidiary to enable it to respond to the needs of the Greek vegetable sector even more effectively. The management team of Rijk Zwaan Hellas comprises Christos Lavdas and Diamantis Tsiatouras, both of whom have been working at Agrosystem for many years. The rest of the Agrosystem team are also transferring to Rijk Zwaan, where they will continue to put their valuable knowledge, experience and network to good use to further develop the Greek agri-food sector. Rijk Zwaan Hellas is based in Irapetra on the island of Crete where it also has a trial station.

SynTech Research has acquired Syngenta’s field and laboratory facility, equipment and experienced seeds testing team of 12 staff, located in Sem-ice, in the northwest of the Czech Republic. “This is the latest in a line of successful facility acquisitions, in the U.S., the EU and Asia Pacific, with major program contracts, also in Latin America, which benefit both organisations,” said Khosro Khodayari, president and CEO of SynTech. “The Sem-ice station and its team will greatly enhance our European capability, as a part of our global strategy to expand seeds/traits contract research.” The location is ideal for programs relevant to the whole Central European region, covering sugar beet, corn, cereals and oilseed rape; the facility is equipped for sugar beet quality analysis and sample processing. The station will continue to deliver current seeds trials, and will add programs from new customers. The team will also deliver agrochemical GEP trials during the 2016/2017 season.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization, a biotech trade association representing biotech companies, academic institutions, state biotech centers and related organisations across 30 countries, has changed its name to Biotechnology Innovation Organization. According to BIO, the change of name better reflects the remarkable progress and groundbreaking innovations its members attain in healing, fueling, and feeding the world. “Our members are some of the most innovative people on the planet. Biotech companies and research institutions are filled with scientists and entrepreneurs who ‘see’ a different future. And then they innovate to change the course of history,” says BIO president and CEO Jim Greenwood. “Everything we do is focused on improving the world we live in,” he added.

DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company have approved a definitive agreement under which the companies “will combine in an all-stock merger of equals,” according to a news release. The combined company will be named DowDuPont. The parties intend to subsequently pursue a separation of DowDuPont into three independent, publicly traded companies. This would occur as soon as feasible, which is expected to be 18 to 24 months following the closing of the merger, subject to regulatory and board approval. The companies will include a leading global pure-play Agriculture company; a leading global pure-play Material Science company; and a leading technology and innovation-driven Specialty Products company. Each of the businesses will have clear focus, an appropriate capital structure, a distinct and compelling investment thesis, scale advantages, and focused investments in innovation to better deliver superior solutions and choices for customers, according to the news release.

Monsanto opens a new greenhouse facility in Níjar, Spain. The facility will be the first-of-its-kind for Monsanto’s vegetables business, focused exclusively on the research, development and testing of new hybrid rootstocks for tomato breeding. Rootstocks serve as the base for tomato crops in protected cultivation, which are grafted onto the rootstock during the early nursery stage. This allows the plant to grow on a sturdy foundation and benefit from a strong root structure, obtaining the necessary water and nutrition with better resistance to nematode (roundworms) and disease. The new facility will allow Monsanto to develop and screen more rootstock hybrids across a range of crop and testing environments to ensure the best new generation of rootstock varieties are available to growers across Europe. Monsanto’s goal is to increase its rootstock-development – a significant and ambitious improvement to the speed at which Monsanto will be able to bring new varieties to market.

Arcadia Biosciences and Dow AgroSciences collaborate to develop and commercialise new breakthrough yield traits and trait stacks in corn. The collaboration leverages Arcadia’s leading platform of abiotic stress traits with Dow AgroSciences’ enabling technology platforms, input traits, regulatory capabilities and commercial channels. Under the collaboration, the companies will jointly develop and commercialise agronomic yield traits, such as nutrient efficiency and water use efficiency, including several traits which have already completed advanced field trials in corn conducted by Dow AgroSciences. These traits would then be combined with Dow AgroSciences’ input traits to create highly competitive trait stacks that maximise farmer revenue and efficiency. “Developing crops with enhanced agronomic performance is technically difficult, making relationships with companies like Arcadia important as we rise to the challenge and advance technology that will help meet the needs of the future,” says Daniel Kittle, vice president, Research and Development, Dow AgroSciences.

Vilmorin & Cie has finalised the full take-over of Genica Research Corporation headquartered in Dixon, California. Specialised in research, breeding, production and distribution – by delegation – of hybrid vegetable seeds, Genica Research Corporation is focused on major crops: sweet and hot peppers, cucumber, summer squash, along with tomato, eggplant, melon and watermelon. It has operational sites in the United States (California and Florida), in Spain and in Italy, and also several breeding stations within these geographical zones. “Genica Research Corporation will integrate our operational organisation: the American activities will join the HM.CLAUSE Business Unit and the European activities the Vilmorin Business Unit. Through this targeted external growth operation we will be able to strengthen our market shares considerably for key crops and territories,” says Emmanuel Rougier, CEO Delegate of Vilmorin & Cie.

Industry News

The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) has announced the production of a whole genome assembly of bread wheat, the most widely grown cereal in the world, significantly accelerating global research into crop improvement. The project consisted of producing a whole genome assembly of the bread wheat variety Chinese Spring based on Illumina short sequence reads assembled with NRGene’s DeNovoMAGIC software. The public-private collaborative project is coordinated by the IWGSC and co-led by Nils Stein of IPK Gatersleben in Germany, Curtis Pozniak of the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre in Canada, Andrew Sharpe of the Global Institute for Food Security in Canada, and Jesse Poland of Kansas State University in the United States. Project participants also include researchers from Illumina, Inc.; NRGene in Israel and the United States; Tel Aviv University in Israel; and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). The new data will help speed up the delivery of a high quality reference sequence of the bread wheat genome. “This new wheat genome sequence generated by the IWGSC and its partners is an important contribution to understanding the genetic blueprint of one of the world’s most important crops,” says Pozniak. “It will provide wheat researchers with an exciting new resource to identify the most influential genes important to wheat adaptation, stress response, pest resistance, and improved yield.”

Koppert Biological Systems, recently laid the foundation stone for a sustainable building in the Spanish town of Vícar and hopes to bring microbiological solutions closer to growers around the world. ‘This building is much more than an economic investment. It represents Koppert’s commitment to agriculture and reflects our interest in working side by side with farmers to improve the competitiveness and commercial value of their crops’ said Koppert’s local Sales Director, Valter Ceppi. Research into micro-organisms that are beneficial to agriculture will be one of the key activities to be developed at the new research and development centre. There will be a second laboratory for entomological research (insects) and an area devoted to quality control for all the biological products which Koppert sells in Spain.

KeyGene has licensed its proprietary Sequence-Based Genotyping (SBG) methods to Bayer’s new Crop Science division. Under the agreement, Bayer’s Crop Science division obtains a non-exclusive licence for the in-house use of the SBG technology for crop improvement. SBG methods are highly cost-effective to identify and score thousands of DNA markers. The use of SBG accelerates genetic improvement of crops with novel traits, thereby providing solutions to feed the world in a sustainable way. “KeyGene is delighted with licensing its global SBG patent portfolio to Bayer’s Crop Science division, an innovation-driven enterprise with competencies in the field of agriculture,” says Michiel van Eijk, CSO of KeyGene. “This licence agreement with Bayer’s Crop Science division supports our shared commitment to crop improvement and meeting the challenges of sustainable food supply.”

Product News

Seed enhancement company Incotec introduces its first seed technology for stevia seeds. The stevia plant is grown for its leaves, which are used for making a natural zero-calorie sweetener. Incotec’s new product not only increases the germination capacity of the seeds, but also improves the grower’s production efficiency. Although Incotec has a broad portfolio of seed technologies for the enhancement of seed performance and yield, this is their first product for stevia and they have indicated interest in developing other technologies for optimising stevia production. Stevia is a relatively new market and the demand for increased production in Europe is rapidly growing. “This breakthrough is good news for stevia growers and only the first step. Incotec has several other solutions that could be developed for stevia, and with feedback from the producers we can work together to get the most out of every harvest,” says Alexander van der Heiden, Incotec’s global commercial manager, vegetables.

Koppert Biological Systems has developed a biostimulant for arable crops. The product contains a mix of plant growth promoting microorganisms. The application of Panoramix results in yield increase and increased nutritional value, even at lower fertilisation rates. Koppert has developed Panoramix (a concentrated liquid seed dressing) especially for large, arable crops, such as maize and wheat. The product contains a mix of plant growth promoting microorganisms that are beneficial for the crop. These protect the seeds, strengthen the seedling and promote growth and development of the root system, and the fully-grown crop. “Large yield increases have been measured in wheat and maize. The product soon pays for itself, thanks to all the extra kilograms harvested. Seeds treated with Panoramix also show better plant emergence, resulting in reduced additional sowing costs. The product also helps growers to make their production more sustainable. The crop is less susceptible to diseases, so it requires fewer chemical crop protection products,” says Rick van der Pas, product manager.

Canary seed, which has been used almost exclusively as bird seed, has received novel food approval from Health Canada as well as GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe) status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “With the achievement of this milestone, we’re hopeful that the food industry and consumers will begin to adopt this nutritious, high protein, gluten free grain,” says Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan chair, David Nobbs. “Up until now, production potential has been limited by the size of the market for birdseed.” Canary seed flour can be used to make bread, cookies, cereals and pastas. Whole seeds can be used in nutrition bars and sprinkled on hamburger buns in place of sesame seed.

Web and APP News

Tozer Seeds Sends Seed to Space Station

Tozer Seeds has donated 2kg of salad rocket seed to help the RHS and UK Space Agency conduct an experiment with thousands of schools. In September 2015 2kg of rocket seeds were flown to the International Space Station where they will orbit the Earth until March 2016, when they are due to return with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly. In April this year, up to 10,000 schools will grow and compare the seeds flown to space with seeds that have stayed on Earth as part of the nationwide experiment. Participating schools will receive a teaching pack containing a packet of seeds from space and a packet that have remained on Earth, a booklet outlining the main experiment, a poster to record results, stickers and more. Following the experiment procedure, pupils will embark on a 35-day voyage of discovery to find out what growing plants in space can teach us about life on Earth and whether we can sustain human life in space in the future. Results will be collected and analysed by biostatisticians and published later in 2016, feeding into the real life work going on in space science research. Two additional suites of resources (aimed at primary and secondary aged pupils) are available to download from the European Space Education Resource Office UK website to enhance learning around the issues of growing food in space, nutrition and plant mutations. The RHS Campaign for School Gardening will be accepting applications for Rocket Science until March 2016 when the seeds return to Earth. Find out more and sign up here: schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/Competitions/Rocket-Science-Application-Form

New Ways To Get Crop Disease Observations

The latest disease observations from AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds research sites can be accessed in a variety of ways beginning February 2016. The publication of monitoring information is part of AHDB’s efforts to alert the industry to in-season disease pressures. “We collect a vast amount of disease information from our variety and research site network across England and Scotland,” explains Jenna Watts. “By sharing our observations, we can help flag up emerging issues, such as regional disease hotspots or unanticipated disease pressures on resistant varieties.” In 2015, disease observation data was published weekly, along with timely updates from research projects assessing fusarium and sclerotinia infection risks, on cereals.ahdb.org.uk/monitoring.

Due to the success of the service, the monitoring website will, once again, be populated with regional disease-pressure information in 2016. In 2016, new platforms will also be exploited, including disease observations posted to an Agronomy blog site hosted on cereals-blog.ahdb.org.uk. Essential disease information will also be sent to subscribers to a new disease alert email service. “We’ve modelled the alerts on the AHDB Aphid News which sends out aphid monitoring data regularly to over one thousand subscribers,” says Watt’s. People interested in receiving timely and topical disease monitoring information are asked to sign up to the alerts by emailing cereals.subscriptions@ahdb.org.uk. Breaking disease developments will also be promoted over Twitter on the organisation’s dedicated feed @AHDB_Cereals.

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