12 September 2022
For hundreds of years plant science has been searching for answers and creating new possibilities. How do we feed a growing population with fewer resources? Can we find better ways to help plants survive the threat of pests, disease, drought, flood, wind and climate change? The answer to these challenges begins with Research and Development (R&D).
The goal of R&D in the plant science industry is to continually improve the range and quality of its crop protection products so they are biologically efficient, environmentally sound, safe and easy to use and economically viable.
Investment in R&D in Australian agriculture is more than $3.3 billion each year. With this, new knowledge in areas such as chemistry, biology, field data science and biotechnology is creating more effective and sustainable products and informing world-leading stewardship practices.
Every year, about 10 new compounds come onto the market. In every decade, one or two totally newer and safer chemical classes are discovered. But beyond new active ingredients, industry delivers continuous innovation through improved formulations, application methods and delivery mechanisms.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower
Research improvements in IT innovation and GPS technology have transformed the efficiency of application equipment used on farm. These practical innovations are just one example of how precision agriculture is enabling more targeted application of pesticides where they are needed and minimising risk of spray drift and resistance.
Step change innovation in plant science R&D doesn’t just exist in the lab. Thought leadership, technical knowledge and a stewardship mindset that draws on traditional knowledge and local wisdom about the unique Australian landscape and environmental challenges is critical. Where stewardship is at the core of R&D, long-term solutions will continue to support both agricultural productivity and environmental conservation.
Leapfrogging innovation in pesticide stewardship
Several different formulations of glyphosate have been developed through the R&D process to suit different environmental conditions.
One special aquatic formulation was developed for safe weed control around water without posing a risk to frogs.