Industry snapshot

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Global agri-science merger

Bayer and Monsanto have signed a ‘definitive merger agreement’ under which Bayer will acquire Monsanto for US$66 billion.

Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG, said the proposed deal was a major step forward for the company’s Crop Science business and would reinforce the leadership role of its global, innovation-driven Life Science company.

Chairman and chief executive officer of Monsanto Hugh Grant said that combining with Bayer would bring together two different but complementary businesses able to enhance solutions to agricultural challenges.

He said the combined business would benefit from Monsanto’s leadership in Seeds & Traits and Climate Corporation platform, and Bayer’s broad Crop Protection product line. “Growers will benefit from a broad set of solutions to meet current and future needs, including enhanced solutions in seeds and traits, digital agriculture and crop protection,” he said.

“The combination also brings together both companies’ leading innovation capabilities and R&D technology platforms, with an annual pro-forma R&D budget of about 2.5 billion euros (A$3.7 billion).”

Liam Condon, a member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and head of the Crop Science Division, said agriculture was at the heart of one of the greatest challenges of our time: how to feed an additional three billion people by 2050 in an environmentally sustainable way.

“It has been both companies’ belief that this challenge requires a new approach that more systematically integrates expertise across Seeds & Traits and Crop Protection with a commitment to innovation and sustainable agriculture practices,” he said. “We are entering a new era in agriculture – one with significant challenges that demand new, sustainable solutions and technologies to enable growers to produce more with less.”

More information:

Advancing Together

New blackleg ratings

The GRDC’s national canola pathology team has released new resistance ratings for blackleg disease in canola cultivars in the GRDC 2016 Spring Blackleg Management Guide Fact Sheet.

The resource covers varietal resistance ratings, specific steps to help manage blackleg, plus resistance groups for all canola cultivars, including new varieties available in 2017.

The resource, which aims to help reduce yield losses resulting from the pathogen in future seasons, follows high blackleg pressure detected in WA canola crops this winter grains season.

Oilseeds disease specialist Dr Steve Marcroft urges sampling to assess disease levels in 2016 canola crops up to windrowing.

“Pull 60 randomly chosen stalks from the ground, cut off the roots with a pair of secateurs and use reference photos in the GRDC fact sheet to estimate the amount of disease in the stem cross-section,” Dr Marcroft says. “Yield loss commonly occurs when more than 50 per cent of the cross-section of the cut stem is discoloured.”

The fact sheet is available at:

Blackleg Management Guide Fact Sheet

GRDC Research Code MPG00004

More information:

Steve Marcroft,
0409 978 941,

Crop trials data goes online

The GRDC’s online farm trials project won an award for excellence at the 2016 Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards conducted by the Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI).

The project is collating thousands of on-farm grains research trials into a central information resource. The Online Farm Trials website ( has been set up to allow users to view, analyse and export grains research information.

The portal has been developed by the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation at Federation University Australia in Ballarat (Victoria), with funding from the GRDC.

Project leader Robert Milne says about 3000 trial projects have so far been published. He says the main objective is to improve access to on-farm trial research information.

“Collation of this information, online, will allow historical, geographical and crop-specific comparisons to be made.”

Mr Milne says grower groups and researchers are continuing to enter data so the number of trials published on the site will keep growing.

More information:

Robert Milne, 03 5327 9488

China training delegation

Staff from the Shandong Department of Agriculture recently visited South Australia to learn about Australia’s biosecurity and phytosanitary (plant health) practices as part of a training program.

Hosted by Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), the training program gave 14 Shandong departmental staff new insights into plant health and pest management, including crop pests and diseases, the management of pest-free areas, agricultural chemicals and food safety.

PIRSA acting executive director biosecurity Geoff Raven says the program in September and October coincided with the 30th anniversary of the SA–Shandong sister-state relationship in 2016.

“Information exchange is a core component of our continuing collaboration between SA and Shandong,” Mr Raven says.

Delegates visited the $3.8-million National Sterile Insect Technology Facility and Sundrop Farms at Port Augusta, the South Australian Produce Market in Adelaide, Biological Services at Loxton, Yamba Quarantine Station and Lenswood Cold Stores Cooperative Society.

More information:


08 8226 0995

Industry moves

Alicia Garden has stepped down as GrainGrowers chief executive officer, with the organisation’s operations now being jointly managed by Michael Southan and David McKeon.

Replacing Ms Garden, and leading the organisation’s Sydney headquarters, is GrainGrowers general manager, technical, Dr Southan, who has worked with BRI Australia (formerly the Bread Research Institute) and GrainGrowers for 18 years.

Sharing the role and overseeing the Canberra office is GrainGrowers general manager policy Mr McKeon, who joined the organisation in 2015. Mr McKeon started his career as a farm manager in south-west New South Wales, before working in policy development roles for the then Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and subsequently as National Farmers’ Federation rural affairs manager.

More information:


GRDC Project Code MPG00004

Region National, South