Research Triangle Park, N.C. – BASF, a top five global crop protection company, is broadening its global agricultural solutions business.
The 154-year-old BASF purchased a range of businesses and assets from Bayer in 2018.
Now, BASF officials have announced their plans for growth through the next decade.
“We have invested heavily into the future, and there is a lot to come that will hopefully make a lot of difference for our community of farmers and customers,” said Saori Dubourg, member of the BASF Board of Executive Directors.
BASF paid over $8 billion USD for Bayer assets that Bayer sold to acquire Monsanto.
About 4,500 Bayer employees joined BASF’s 8,500 agricultural employees worldwide, and the purchase included Bayer’s glufosinate-ammonium business, soybean, canola and cotton seed businesses including traits, research and breeding capabilities, trademarks for key row crops in select markets, a vegetable seeds business, a research and development platform for hybrid wheat, seed treatment products, glyphosate-based herbicides for Europe, the digital farming platform Xarvio, and certain nonselective herbicide and nematicide research projects.
In 1821, Friedrich Engelhorn was born in Mannheim, Germany. He started “Badische Anilin- & Soda-Fabrik” in 1865, with partners.
A jewelry maker by training, Engelhorn recognized that gold was valuable even when not used for jewelry. The recognition that waste streams had value was a founding premise for BASF. Engelhorn’s company used tar – the byproduct of making gas from coal – to make synthetic dyes. From that start, BASF went on to produce many important chemicals used throughout the world.
“We know how to reuse resources in the most clever way, so when you see all these plans, the reasons we are a world leader in the chemical industry and how we became there, was by thinking more deeply about how we can use resources in the smartest way,” said Dubourg.
Leadership from BASF spoke to ag media from the U.S. and Canada during a late-September BASF-sponsored conference held at Research Triangle Park, N.C.
BASF’s portfolio today includes classical petrochemicals and intermediates, as well as performance materials and industrial solutions like dispersions. Coatings, catalysts and construction chemicals are always being updated, and research is focusing on developing lightweight materials for batteries to power the digital/electronic economy.
While long known for providing products for farming, BASF’s acquisitions last year has many people wondering if the company intends to move up from their third place standing in crop protection and fourth in seed business globally. The company is also considered among the top three or four in terms of digital investments in agriculture.
Company officials believe BASF is about to increase their market share in agriculture, but they want to compete more against themselves than others. The company is investing $900 million USD annually in agricultural-related research and development.
“The only thing that matters for BASF in agriculture is to focus our energy, our talents and our resources on the market segments where we can make a difference,” said Vincent Gros, BASF President of Agricultural Solutions.
The company has over 200 regional seed production and breeding facilities. Over the next 10 years, BASF will focus on four crop systems that represent 70 percent of the overall crop protection and seed market:
- Soybeans, corn and cotton - BASF intends to develop new and stronger crop protection products and develop their soybean, seed and trait business.
- Rice - To improve market coverage in Asia, BASF intends to develop a significant market share in rice cultivation.
- Fruits and vegetables - Currently a fragmented market, fruits and vegetables offer BASF diversification and less market volatility than row crop products. BASF already has a strong position in this segment, said Gros.
- Yellow canola, sunflower and hybrid wheat - BASF intends to be the number one global player in these three crops. InVigor canola sales in Canada are already very strong. Hybrid wheat registration, development and production is expected to increase hard red wheat production to over 100 bushels per acre, conservatively.
In addition to seed products, BASF is and will offer a new portfolio of technologies. Many crop protection and digital products will become available by 2023, said Gros.
Their launch of Revysol fungicide in 2019 has been a major success. The new fungicide received approval from the EPA in late June and is already widely used in Europe. For the 2020 growing season, the AI will be available in the U.S. as Veltyma fungicide in corn, Revytek fungicide in soybeans, Provysol fungicide in sugarbeets and potatoes and Cevya fungicide in grapes, almonds, pome and stone fruit. The Group 3 fungicide has a unique factor that allows the molecules to bend and flex in ways other Group 3 fungicides don’t. This is viewed as a positive characteristic to reduce resistance.
BASF’s sustainability strategies include extensive use of customer communication through Xarvio Digital Farming Solutions, to “help farmers make the better use of our products, to make sure we are using the right products at the right moment at the right dose,” said Gros.
They also intend to enhance digital market access and establish data relationships with growers through xarvio.
“In the future, but already the case today, we will develop tools that will dramatically improve our product stewardship,” he said. “Already today we are able to anticipate and to foresee the disease pressure you will have in your fields, and to make sure you use fungicides only where it’s needed and when it’s needed.”
Gros and Dubourg both indicated their desire to engage with distributors and customers to meet the changing needs of farming in 2020 and beyond.
They also hope the ag community recognizes that BASF greatly values its employees and the vast amount of knowledge, knowhow and strength in their 13,000 agricultural employees that are working for solutions, sustainability and balance in their own lives as well as in the lives of the citizens of the world and their customers.
To that end, BASF has partnered with other companies and organizations to wipe out malaria by 2040.
“We would really like to make a difference by making a major contribution with our product portfolio of the future by innovating toward societal needs,” said Dubourg, “because we simply believe the best way to predict the future is to create it.”