After combines roll through fields this fall, farmers will pencil out their inputs and consider how things like seed treatments benefited their crops’ 2017 output.

Alex Cochran, Director of Research and Development with the DuPont Seed Treatment Enterprise, said his team’s strategy is to bring products to market that continually set new standards for productivity.

Alex Cochran is the Director of Research and Development for DuPont Seed Treatment Enterprise.

“There are many good technologies out there today to manage critical issues like corn root worm and soybean cyst nematode. We also believe there’s an opportunity to raise the bar with those technologies and either enhance or improve upon them with new technologies,” he said.

Cochran said their latest product to hit the market, DuPont ™ Lumisena™ fungicide seed treatment, is a great example of that philosophy.

“Metalaxyl has been a good product for managing Phytophthora but we observed during trialing that Lumisena™ was clearly better. We strongly felt there was an opportunity to bring an even better solution forward and that’s the approach we’re taking in our continued efforts here at DuPont with new technology,” he said.

Growers in the U.S. will have access to Lumisena™ technology for the 2018 growing season. In addition to protecting soybeans from Phytophthora, the seed treatment combats downy mildew in sunflowers.

The company doesn’t ‘go it alone’ in that search for improved offerings. When the Seed Treatment Enterprise was created just four years ago, they vowed to collaborate beyond their own labs and source the expertise of their farmer customers and other technology providers.

“Our discovery process is truly grower-based in its design and focus. We pay great attention to the discussions with our customers and then translate that into product concepts which direct our whole research effort,” Cochran said.

DuPont has always been vocal in their desire to partner with others in the seed treatment industry and they’re doing just that with new collaborator Evogene, a biotechnology company. Cochran said they look forward to working with Evogene on moving the yield bar up for corn growers.

Although seed treatment research and development has been robust in the last 20 years, bringing a range of products and even new product categories to market, like seed-applied nematicides, there’s always more work to be done, he believes.

“We certainly do not have everything solved. We are aggressively scouting for new solutions. Additionally, we’re not focused on any one area like small molecule chemistry. We’re very open and interested in biological solutions too.”

So in what crops might DuPont’s newest solutions come from? At the moment, Cochran’s team is focusing their efforts on corn, soybeans and oilseeds—both sunflower and canola—but, he stresses, their work is not solely limited to those, noting DuPont has a global registration for Dermacor®, a seed treatment for rice.

“We are also paying attention to opportunities in cereal grains which represent a large outlet for seed treatment technologies,” Cochran said.

Just like their farmer customers, the research and development team will spend time this fall crunching numbers too.

“This time of year is very exciting for agricultural scientists, like me. I really enjoy seeing results roll in but you’ve got to be working very quickly to translate those numbers into a plan to execute for the following season. We’re looking to identify the key objectives we want to accomplish next year,” Cochran said.

“We’re excited to keep bringing new innovations like Lumisena™ seed treatment to our growers. We have a discovery engine that is full with scouting new technologies and we look forward to continuing that effort. There are great opportunities to bring new innovation to our growers and we will absolutely do that.”