Richard Clark

Powerful Partnerships
are Key

Richard Clark
Richard Clark
Richard Clark, Chairman of the Grains and Research Development ­Corporation (GRDC), discussed with Liam Condon, CEO of Bayer’s ­Crop Science Division, how partnerships can tackle agricultural challenges by ­applying expertise, innovation and trust.

Liam Condon The world of agriculture has become more challenging than ever. Farmers have to manage their business under increasingly severe weather conditions, such as drought and flood, which shrink their crop-yield potential. At the same time, more than 30,000 varieties of weed compete with crops for resources, leading to global yield losses. Increasingly, weed resistance to major herbicide classes is endangering broadacre crop production on a global level. New weed control solutions are a priority for our research. However, solving such problems is a challenge that is too large for one company, university or even country. The global agricultural community has to stay up to date to find solutions to these crucial challenges, and we need a network of partners with complementary specializations. The Herbicide Innovation Partnership with GRDC and Australian universities is an excellent example of such a global network, and we believe that it will deliver real benefits to global agriculture.

Richard Clark Indeed, Bayer and the GRDC are a powerful team. Together we will build on our scientific expertise during our five-year partnership. We are pleased to acknowledge this important milestone in the Herbicide Innovation Partnership. We’ve created a cross-continental collaborative research atmosphere in Bayer’s laboratory facilities in Frankfurt to jointly discover next-generation weed control solutions with the help of 39 scientists and eleven post-doctoral researchers from Australia and New Zealand, who are working alongside expert global researchers from Bayer.

Growers have consistently told us that managing resistant and poorly controlled weeds is the biggest problem they face. By highlighting the significance of the challenge, through regional panels and cropping solution groups, growers have directly influenced the research focus of the GRDC and the global innovation company Bayer, for the benefit of their local farming community. We appreciate our growers and the industry for its support of this collaboration. We believe this partnership will put many farmers at the forefront of tackling herbicide resistance.

Liam Condon And there is even more potential as a result of our partnership. We firmly believe that collaboration models like the Partnership between the GRDC and Bayer will make the difference in the battle against weeds. In the light of the challenges to increasing productivity and sustainability in crop production, it is even more important that we collaborate to accelerate research activities. By finding new solutions to the problem of herbicide resistance, Bayer, the GRDC and our farmers benefit from this exchange of information. There can be significant global advantages if this partnership results in the discovery of resistance-breaking technologies.

Richard Clark

We believe this partnership will put many farmers at the forefront of tackling herbicide resistance.

Richard Clark is Chairman of the Grains and Research Development Corporation, one of the world’s leading grains research organizations, located in Australia. Clark is a farmer and company director of a specialist grain enterprise in New South Wales, Australia. He has also held leadership positions within a number of agricultural bodies. He was a councilor of the Grains Council of Australia and a councilor of the National Farmers’ Federation.
Ribbon-cutting for the inauguration: Liam Condon, Bayer AG Board Member, and Richard Clark, Chairman of the GRDC (right) at Bayer’s laboratories in Frankfurt am Main.

Richard Clark Yes, this way, farmers receive significant support for growing as many crops as possible. In addition, this effect will positively affect the whole supply chain – growers, exporters, importers, processors, and retailers – all the way to the customer. This partnership reaffirms GRDC’s commitment to improving grower profit as its highest priority. It is important because a healthy, profitable grains industry is not just in the best interests of our growers; it is in the best interest of the whole society. In fact, the world population can benefit when as many people as possible have access to high quality food.

Liam Condon Exactly. In this regard, forward collaborative thinking should be applied on every level. Powerful partnerships are key, and the global agricultural community will have to develop the world’s support structure to meet the challenges. Luckily, the younger generation has already begun to apply this principle. In addition, we will foster our joint knowledge and facilitate exchange through the post-doc program that is also part of the Herbicide Innovation Partnership agreement. The program gives postdoctoral researchers the opportunity to boost their research skills required to identify and explore advanced technologies for herbicide innovation, and to develop solutions to herbicide resistance in weeds.

Richard Clark Indeed. Recently, nine post-doctoral chemists from Australia and two from New Zealand started their two-year contracts at Bayer’s weed research center in Frankfurt am Main and are working on promising research projects in chemistry, biochemistry and biology. I am sure that the young scientists will have an intensive exchange with their fellow German colleagues working in the laboratories of Bayer in Frankfurt, and will profit from each other’s expertise and knowledge in terms of herbicide resistance management.

Liam Condon We also believe that there is a need for young leaders to be engaged in finding sustainable agricultural solutions to the growing global need for safe and nutritious food. For young academics at the beginning of their careers, a research stay abroad is the perfect opportunity to broaden their horizons and grow professionally and personally. Bayer’s Jeff Schell Scholarship provides support for junior academics in agriculture who have international research plans. Another example is the Youth Ag-Summit, which regularly provides a platform for young people from all over the world involved in agriculture to discuss challenges and to develop solutions on a small and large scale. Participants can benefit from listening to each other’s ideas. We are very proud to be jointly building a sustainable global network of future leaders and strong partners in agriculture.

Liam Condon

The Herbicide Innovation Partnership with GRDC and Australian universities is an excellent example of global networking. 

Liam Condon, Member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and Head of the Crop Science Division

Richard Clark To develop the effective solutions we need extensive collaboration between the public and private sectors, together with representatives of civil society. Young people with passion and inspiring ideas have huge potential to help drive us toward more sustainable agriculture.

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