Frankfurt a.M., Germany -- Against the backdrop of a growing world population, the global demand for corn and soybean products is rising steadily. To further increase agricultural productivity without compromising the environment, a sustainable intensification of corn and soybean production is needed. On October 30 and 31, more than 200 experts and representatives from corn- and soybean-growing countries across the globe met at an international conference in Frankfurt, Germany, to discuss how this topic can be approached and which challenges and opportunities may arise.
The two-day Corn & Soybean Future Forum organized by Bayer CropScience aimed to stimulate fresh perspectives on topics ranging from agronomic challenges such as integrated weed and pest management, weather constraints, value chain requirements and certification programs through to future technologies and digital farming. Speakers shared their individual experiences and perspectives in growing corn and soybeans in the various regions around the world and presented new approaches to promote more sustainability in the cultivation of these two major crops.
Embracing innovation to promote sustainability in corn and soybean production
Being among the largest agricultural crops, corn and soybeans are currently in the focus of a controversial public debate that associates these large monocultures with a negative impact on the environment. Bayer CropScience is actively seeking to engage in dialog and embrace a joint approach to address this topic. “Innovations and new technologies can play a major role in advancing sustainability in corn and soybean cultivation,” said Liam Condon, Chief Executive Office at Bayer CropScience. “Based on our broad expertise in chemical and biological crop protection as well as seeds and traits and an innovative product portfolio we want to collaborate and build strong partnerships with growers and value chain partners around the world to find new ways to promote sustainable corn and soybean production.”
Bayer CropScience has established a series of dedicated Crop Future Forums to provide a networking platform on the future of key agricultural crops. “With our Crop Future Forums we want to foster stakeholder dialog and knowledge exchange with a focus on societal trends and innovative solutions for future challenges,” said Mathias Kremer, Head of Strategy at Bayer CropScience. “Corn and soybeans are highly important global crops and we are committed to providing integrated solutions for sustainable corn and soybean farming.”
Corn and soybeans – the allrounder crops
Corn and soybeans are truly versatile crops. For example, there are more than 4,200 different uses for corn products, most prominently in livestock production, followed by ethanol, food starch and sweetener products. Less than 1 percent of global corn is used as a direct food product. With this wide range of uses, it is the world’s leading commodity crop. A record of 1.02 billion tons was grown on 184 million hectares worldwide in 2013. Over the last 40 years, corn has led all crops in terms of productivity gains and value growth. More than 20 percent of all seed, trait and crop protection input spending is in corn.
Soybeans are a major ingredient in livestock feed because of their high protein content. The bulk of this crop is processed for oil and protein for the animal feed industry. A smaller percentage is used for human consumption and made into products including soy milk, soy flour, soy protein, tofu and many retail food products. It is also used in many industrial products. Soybeans are grown on more than 110 million hectares worldwide. In 2013, global production amounted to about 275 million tons. USA, Brazil and Argentina make up roughly 80 percent of global production, while China is the largest importer. Soybeans have seen a steady agronomic evolution in the past fifty years. Average yields have grown from about 1 ton/ha in the 1960s to 2.5 tons/ha in 2013.