| ST. LOUIS
ST. LOUIS May 15 Monsanto Co, the
world's largest seed company, is developing two new platforms
that diverge from its core business and are seen as potential
key long-term growth drivers, according to top Monsanto
The first, a precision planting product called
"FieldScripts," is being rolled out for beta testing this year
to more than 150 farmers in the U.S. Midwest.
The company is still not sure how it will price the product
or license it to rivals as it does its seed technology, but has
high hopes for commercialization in the next two to three years
and strong long-term growth.
"What we are building right now is based on the strength of
our germplasm and our breeding. That is the key engine," said
Monsanto Chief Financial Officer Pierre Courduroux in an
"When you get to the next layers of growth, that is where
you'll start getting into those new platforms we're building. We
are putting the base in place so that it is the next layer of
growth. We've got high hopes regarding those products."
FieldScripts is a precision planting tool that will be sold
alongside Monsanto seed products at dealers and is based on soil
data, slope, organic matter and other information gathered from
individual farmer fields.
The data is translated to an individualized prescription for
the farmer that recommends what type of seed, what density and
spacing a farmer should use and what type of fertilizer will
work best. Lower seeding rates might be used in parts of one
field and higher rates suggested in another based on the data
Certain equipment will be required to implement the product,
but farmers should see a gain of 5-10 bushels per acre, said Pam
Strifler, Monsanto's vice president of integrated farming
The second new platform seen as having high potential
involves new biological research. Monsanto's "biodirect"
research is aimed at developing products that use molecules
found in nature as topical applications for crop protection.
The company is accelerating work to screen and test
micro-organisms to find ways to use the bacteria and fungi to
optimize the performance of crops and protect them from weeds
"It is an interesting time in the company as we look at some
of these new opportunities," said Monsanto Chairman Hugh Grant.
The core business of providing seeds and chemicals to
farmers remains the top priority as Monsanto see increasingly
strong growth internationally, said Chairman Hugh Grant. Latin
America is seeing fast expansion, and Eastern Europe holds
particular future appeal, as do areas in seeds business.
"That is a big change for us," said Grant. "We've seen a
business movement from really domestically based to more and
more ... a global business."