DuPont research and development goals for the next 10 years will focus on the company’s longtime strength, crop protection chemistry, but also will look at seed-based technology through Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

"A lot can happen in 10 years," says DuPont spokesman Reginald Young, Six-Sigma Blackbelt, who, along with representatives of Syngenta and Monsanto discussed the crop protection industry’s next decade during a recent Ag Technology Conference on the Texas A&M Commerce campus.

"I don’t have all the answers," Young says, "but we will continue to concentrate on sustainable growth and reducing our environmental footprint. We are transforming for our third century."

Young says DuPont has been in the chemistry and energy business since the early 1800s. "From 2000 through 2090, we will still work with chemistry but also bio-technology and seek knowledge intensive solutions. We are investing heavily in biotechnology," he says. "Our goal is to increase the quantity and quality of the global food supply."

In the next few years Young says DuPont will look at herbicide blends for both the U. S. and European market. "We’re also looking at a soybean rust fungicide." At the time of his presentation he was not sure of the new product’s whereabouts in the EPA channel. "But it’s going to be a game changer. We’re also working on several broad-spectrum fungicides."

A new family of insecticides is also in the works. He says a specialty fungicide and a broad-spectrum nematicide could be available by the end of the decade.

"We’re also looking at stress and fungal resistant plants and improving yield and quality. We make more than 250,000 chemistry screens a year. We’re trying to get safer pesticides with new modes of action."

Part of DuPont’s chemistry efforts will be directed toward "selective specialties and label expansions. We will broaden our fungicide portfolio and find more efficient products." Reducing pesticide and pesticide packaging waste is another goal, he says.

Improving corn hybrids will be a key challenge through Pioneer. "We’ll devote about 75 percent of our research and development funds looking for new corn technology," Young says. "About eight percent will go to soybeans."

The top priorities for corn include hybrids that:

∑ Dry down faster

∑ Offer better yield potential

∑ Provide consistent yields

∑ Display fungal resistance

∑ Show improved drought tolerance or response to moisture

∑ Respond better to nitrogen fertilization

∑ Show insect resistance

"We are building a stronger biotech pipeline," Young says. "We want licensed traits as well as co-developed traits."

Insect resistance targets include corn rootworm. "We also hope to develop a soybean variety with healthier soybean oil," he says. Other goals for soybean variety development include:

∑ Soybean cyst nematode resistance

∑ Fungal disease resistance

∑ Coleoptera resistance

∑ Enhanced yield

"A lot of exciting things are coming," Young says.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com