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Bayer opens automated greenhouse for corn breeding

The approximately USD 100 million facility will serve as a global product design center for corn.

Bayer has opened its new smart, state-of-the-art, automated greenhouse facility in Marana, Arizona (United States).

Marana Greenhouse first of its kind

The Marana Greenhouse facility is the first of its kind for the company and the most technically advanced. The approximately USD 100 million facility will serve as a global product design center for corn, the only crop to be grown there.

Additionally, the Marana facility will capitalise on innovation advancements in proprietary seed chipping, advanced marker technology, automation and data science.

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Growing conditions can be customised to simulate various climate conditions around the world. - Photos: Bayer
Growing conditions can be customised to simulate various climate conditions around the world. - Photos: Bayer

“With our new Marana greenhouses, Bayer is reimagining the way plant breeding is done and setting the standard for environmental sustainability,” said Bob Reiter, Head of Research and Development for Crop Science at Bayer. “Meeting the unique challenges that farmers face requires different ways of thinking and working, and this new innovative facility is one of the many ways Bayer will deliver on its commitments to farmers.”

Insects used to reduce pesticide applications

The Marana greenhouses, which occupies 300,000 square feet of growing space, are designed for the sustainable use of inputs throughout the research process. Water used for crops will be recycled, which helps preserve precious desert water supplies, 100 percent of harvested materials will be used for compost and beneficial insects will be used to reduce pesticide applications.

3 to 4 corn crop cycles annually

By locating the Marana Greenhouse facility in the Arizona desert instead of the midwestern section of the United States where corn is traditionally grown, more days of warmth and sunlight will allow researchers to maintain plants year-round, enabling 3 to 4 corn crop cycles annually.

Also, by utilising the controlled environment of the greenhouses, the breeding process comes indoors which eliminates crop exposure to adverse weather conditions and prevents delays in new seed development. Growing conditions can be customised to simulate various climate conditions around the world.

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The Marana Greenhouse facility is the first of its kind for the company and the most technically advanced.
The Marana Greenhouse facility is the first of its kind for the company and the most technically advanced.

“Every investment in innovation is an investment in more sustainable agriculture for the next generation, and the effects travel far beyond one site,” added Reiter. “The corn hybrids developed here, under diverse growing environments and weather scenarios, will bring innovation to growers in every part of the world.”

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