Robert Hiles, Head of Cereals, North Europe Syngenta.

Robert Hiles (3)
“At CropTec I’ll be talking about the hugely important role plant breeding has to play in ensuring the growing world population and subsequent increasing calorie demand, are met.  Quite simply, the challenge is enormous – the world must grow more crops from the available resources and one of the key sustainable approaches, is to unlock the potential of plants through innovation.
The enormity of the challenge is the responsibility of everyone, but closer to home addressing the cereal yield plateau is something where we can contribute. In the past perhaps we have looked at each aspect of crop growing in too much isolation and not fully appreciated the importance of an integrated approach. At Syngenta we have recognised this, bringing together expertise in plant breeding, agronomy, chemistry and application to ensure that our wide range of products and offers delivers as much value to the farmer and supply chain as possible.
The importance of taking an integrated approach to crop production has been demonstrated during the last 12 months. After two very different challenging years, crops were established well last autumn, but a mild and wet winter followed by a warm spring meant that it was not just crops that grew well but also the blackgrass, wild oats and a wide range of disease such as septoria and yellow rust. That increased the costs of production. Meanwhile, lower commodity prices have also increased pressure on growers, although higher yields may have compensated for some of that decline.
Plant breeding companies have a range of new techniques and technologies, complementing traditional breeding that has served us so well until now, examples such as marker technology helping the whisky industry, marker assisted backcrossing allowing FHB resistance to be introduced into European germplasm, Doubled Haploid techniques delivering varieties quicker and of course Hybridization of barley giving increased yield consistency.
With its focus on technology, CropTec is the ideal event for us to demonstrate how plant breeding will help us increase crop output against a backdrop of climatic and economic pressure.”
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