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Crop data system in beta for Western Canada

Climate Corp.’s Climate FieldView system is already on offer down East

A Monsanto arm’s farm data suite, already being offered for sale in Eastern Canada for use this spring, is in beta testing toward a rollout later this year in Western Canada.

Management from Monsanto and its farm data systems arm, The Climate Corp., speaking on a conference call Jan. 5, said they see a launch for their Climate FieldView platform in Western Canada toward the end of 2017, as they work on the platform’s compatibility with small grains and related equipment.

The package had its Canadian launch in September at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show and was offered for sale in the East last month, for use in the 2017 crop season.

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Rural Landscape in south western Canada and snow capped mountains

Climate CEO Mike Stern on Jan. 5 described the East as “very much of a corn and soybean environment,” similar to the company’s markets in Michigan and Ohio.

The FieldView suite of tools is meant to allow farmers to visualize and analyze crop performance, using field data maps as well as satellite imagery.

Going global

FieldView, launched in 2015 in the U.S. to tie Climate Corp.’s product offerings into one package, comes also to Brazil this year with launches in Australia, Argentina and South Africa expected in 2018-19, the companies said.

The company said it will also bring its products into the European market in 2018-19, having taken its first steps there by buying Estonian farm management software firm VitalFields in November.

The conference call laid out near-term plans for both Climate Corp.’s and its parent company’s research and development pipelines, noting Climate has “more than 35” R&D projects in the works.

“Farming at the zone level is the new reality,” Climate’s chief scientist Sam Eathington said in the company’s release.

Climate, he said, “is already delivering advanced seed scripting and zone-level nitrogen-monitoring capabilities, and our robust research pipeline ensures we will continue to provide farmers actionable insights to help them operate more efficiently and sustainably.”

Among those, the company said, it plans to develop variable-rate prescription tools for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, creating what it described as “the industry’s first comprehensive fertility solution, delivering customized insights for crop nutrition and fertility management.”

The company, through collection and analysis of “millions” of data points on seed product performance across various geographies, said it also plans to provide seed product selection plans for its farmer users.

Climate said its field health research will lead to development of a disease insights package, identifying and predicting a specific field’s disease vulnerability and diagnosing crop diseases, applying artificial intelligence to images of infected plants.

Climate said it’s also working on a new “directed scouting” tool to help farmers better sort out which fields to prioritize before heading out to scout.

That tool, which Climate said will be “a first for the digital ag industry,” is meant to help farmers save time and protect yield, before yield is impacted at the end of the season.

Collaborations

Monsanto also laid out a number of key projects in its own R&D pipeline, including its Higher-Yielding Corn trait family, a collaboration with BASF; the DeKalb Disease Shield corn hybrids platform; and Acceleron seed-applied disease protection products, a collaboration with Bayer.

The company said it’s also working on an “innovative biological approach” to control varroa mite infestations in bee colonies, and a seed-applied nematode control product, dubbed NemaStrike.

Noting the still-pending merger plans between Bayer CropScience and Monsanto, the company’s chief technology officer Robert Fraley said Jan. 5 that “parallel development” of herbicides and crop traits would allow the combined company to shave “years” off the delivery timelines for products in its pipeline.

Accelerated earnings, he said, could then be allocated toward additional areas of R&D.

Monsanto on Jan. 4 also announced it has reached a global licensing agreement with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, for agricultural applications of the institute’s new CRISPR-Cpf1 genome-editing technology.

The agreement’s specific terms weren’t disclosed. Monsanto has previously signed deals for other genome-editing technologies for agricultural use, including a licence from the Broad Institute for use of the CRISPR-Cas9 system.

CRISPR-Cpf1, Monsanto said, marks “an exciting advance in genome-editing technology, because it has potential to be a simpler and more precise tool for making targeted improvements in a cell’s DNA when compared to the CRISPR-Cas9 system.”

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