James Weatherly serves as the Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance executive director.
James Weatherly serves as the
Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance executive director

Innovations from throughout the seed industry help address many of the economic, environmental and health issues we face as a global society. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the U.S. seed industry on average reinvests approximately 10 percent of the estimated total annual seed value, $18 billion, back into research and development of new seed innovations. So approximately $1.8 billion annually is put back into research and development for new seed innovations.

This annual investment in new innovations is fundamental to ensure that new innovations continue to be brought into the market. New seed innovations require a great deal of investment both in time and expense. CropLife International reports a new variety can cost upward of $1 million or more to develop and bring to market over a 7- to 10-year period, and it can cost upward of $100 to $150 million to bring a new seed technology to market.

Investments in seed innovations have brought dramatic value and benefits to the industry as a whole. From 1980 to 2015, land use is down 22 percent, soil erosion is down 40 percent, irrigated water is down 26 percent, energy use is down 22 percent and greenhouse emissions are down 9 percent.

Today, innovations are being developed that benefit all areas of the industry: from improved yields, nutritional qualities, and weed and pest control, to improved shipping characteristics. Members from all over the seed industry constantly work to address hurdles that impact the industry and provide innovations that improve the industry.

Members of the Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance (SIPA) are working on or have developed the following innovation examples that provide value to the seed industry.

Dow AgroSciences has developed the new Enlist herbicide tolerant traits, which enable farmers to use Enlist Duo herbicide (a proprietary blend of new 2,4-D choline and glyphosate) over the top of cotton, soybeans and corn for broad spectrum weed control.

Germains is developing pre-emergent seed technologies, such as organic seed treatments for spinach, that provide protection against pests. One treatment provides early season protection against Pythium, before the plant even emerges.

HM.CLAUSE has been improving post-harvest attributes and flavor components in melons. This research focuses on breeding for grower- and shipper-friendly traits, such as field holding and shipability, as well as consumer traits like taste, aroma and flavor, which have challenged the seed industry for years.

HM.CLAUSE has also been breeding improved melons with excellent field holding capability and concentrated maturity, which provide harvest flexibility and labor cost savings.

Limagrain Cereal Seeds has partnered with Bay State Milling Company to improve the nutritional qualities of seed. Limagrain Cereal Seeds and Bay State Milling Company are breeding wheat that produces high fiber wheat flour, derived from high amylose wheat.
Limagrain Cereal Seeds, Colorado Wheat Research Foundation, Inc. and Albaugh, LLC, have partnered to develop the herbicide-tolerant CoAxium Wheat Production System, which provides a system for improved weed control in wheat.

Monsanto has developed the NemaStrike Technology, a seed treatment technology that provides broad-spectrum nematode control for corn, soybeans and cotton, offering a novel mode of action and low water solubility.

Rijk Zwaan has developed new lettuce varieties that work around the potential need for low-oxygen packaging for lettuce; this allows for lower costs and more options when blending. The result eliminates the negative smell that is characteristic of opening low-oxygen packaging containing lettuce.

Sakata Seed America is developing seed priming and enhancement technologies that improve vegetable seed yield and quality. New production techniques using plant growth regulators, biologicals and soil fertility management improve seed yield and quality for tomato, pepper, carrot and onion varieties.

SIPA aims to promote the understanding and value of seed innovations, as well as provide the resources for innovators to protect their seed innovations.
For more on the various seed innovations that benefit the seed industry and how to protect your innovations, please visit the SIPA website at or contact James Weatherly at