Farmers who planted drought-tolerant corn varieties this year said the corn appeared to endure drought better than other varieties, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“It seems like it takes a lot more stress, it’s a lot more tolerant,” said a farmer in Nebraska who planted DuPont’s drought tolerant corn variety Optimum AQUAmax.
A study published in 2010 by Iowa State University points out that conventional breeding techniques and biotechnology used by agricultural companies including Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta have already helped to reduce drought related losses for the U.S. corn crop by 1 percent a year in the last decade.
Researchers note that even small gains in corn bioengineering can lead to significant improvements in the size of corn crops and have “a huge economic impact.” David Lightfoot from Southern Illinois University says progress is going to have the biggest payoff for the crops that have grown in some of the driest areas of Midwest. Read more.
Farmers in South Dakota are watching closely to see how the new drought-tolerant biotech corn varieties perform when rainfall is six inches short over the last two months.
“I think it will be a good year even if we don’t have those 200 bushel yields,” Jared Questad, a farmer in Baltic, S.D., told KELO TV in Sioux Falls.
Questad, who is also a seed dealer for Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, has the new AQUAmax variety in test plots. Other farmers in the area are testing Monsanto’s DroughtGard. The trials will help determine the viability of the new products under real-world conditions.
“We’re going to find out this year because this is the largest, widest range testing that’s going to be done on these products,” said Larry Wagner, agronomy crops field specialist at South Dakota State University Extension.
Drought tolerance is another trait brought to field crops by biotechnology, says Corby Jensen, Monsanto’s technology development manager for Nebraska and the Dakotas.
“It’s about the whole package, eliminating weeds that can rob the soils of valuable water, better genetics, residue management, using no-till practices have been a proven way to conserve soil moisture. So, again it’s about putting all those pieces together to give yourself the best chance at success possible,” Jensen said. Read more.
Genetically modified crops reached a significant milestone this week and a new third-party study clearly demonstrates the benefits of genetically modified drought-tolerant corn for African farmers and consumers.
1 billion hectares of biotech crops planted
This week agricultural biotechnology marked an important milestone: farmers around the world have planted more than 1 billion hectares of GM crops since they were introduced in 1996. This is a huge accomplishment (there are 2.47 acres in a hectare) and demonstrates that farmers globally are recognizing and taking advantage of the benefits made possible through high-yielding GM crops. Full story.
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