A Monsanto exhibit, Journey of the Seed, took visitors through the many stages of seed development to on-farm production and the science behind modern agriculture.

Through a series of exhibits at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill., Monsanto shared the journey of seed and the work it does. It started with global germplasm and moved to biotechnology and then moved to agronomics and data science, before concluding with sustainability and pollinators.

In the global germplasm exhibit, a seed chipping machine demonstrated how a tiny piece of DNA from the seed allows researchers to find the seeds containing the beneficial traits of interest from the millions tested — all while keeping the seeds viable for planting. Outside the building a corn plot with germplasm from around the world showcased the diversity of characteristics that can be found.

As attendees moved to the biotechnology area, they could visually see the differences in root growth and mass between Roundup Ready 2 corn, SmartStax technology and SmartStax Pro technology. Through a glass box, visitors could also watch corn rootworm beetle emergence and compare the differences between the three technologies.

In the agronomics exhibit area, cover crops took center stage. Agronomists had taken soil cores from neighboring fields less than 100 yards apart in Southern Illinois. Core A featured 17 tears of no-till and cover crops, whereas Core B had 17-plus years of conventional till and no cover crops. As a result, Core A had higher organic matter content, better soil aggregation and high microbial activity. This may allow field A to maintain high productivity, even under stressful conditions. Core B had less organic matter, was somewhat eroded and less microbial activity. Field B might also be more prone to yield loss in the event of stressful conditions.

In the area of data science, Field View was on full display showcasing technology and information can be used to create prescription maps for variable rate applications. At the final stop, attendees were offered a slice of watermelon or ear of sweet corn to enjoy while sitting next to a pollinator habitat. Additionally, free packets of pollinator seed were handed out and experts were available to answer questions.