Revolutionizing crop production under drought and water scarcity with Syngenta’s integrated water optimization solution
Revolutionizing crop production under drought with Syngenta’s integrated water optimization solution which delivers superior performance and simplicity via the integration of Ag inputs (Seeds, Crop protection/enhancement, fertility), irrigation/sensing and agronomic advice with less water. Already commerical (2012).
Tell us about yourself/your team.
I am leading the areas of Crop Enhancement and Water solutions at Syngenta. This area focuses on the new frontier in agriculture and food production based on combating environmental stresses including drought, heat, frost, floods etc which have plagued farmers around the world in recent years. I have been building the Water space at Syngenta over the past 4 years as a critical pillar in Syngetna's strategy and help feeding the world in the face of climate changes, a growing population and food security issues globally. I have been building businesses throughout my career. My previous roles have been to set up a therapeutic proteins pharmaceutical business for Crucell Holland NV (now J&J) and other startup activities in the internet/telecom/mobile spaces.
What makes you an intrapreneur? What are the skills, capabilities, and personality traits that make you an intrapreneur?
I am now responsbile for most new innovative technologies at Syngenta, the world leading agribusiness with >$13Bn in sales(2011). I develop innovative solutions and platforms which address the growing unresolved needs of farmers in areas that before my involvement have not really been a priority yet are already limiting global food production today. I have also built new business models and integrated solutions from other industries into Agriculture, provided a holistic approach to managing water and bridged between large companies (e.g GE, Levi's, Nestle) and startups that needed help in scale up and market access. The ciritical traits are persistance, stakeholder management, vision and a true value propostion for a commercial corporation to enable such innovation to get to market.
About Your Organization
Switzerland, BS, Basel
Primary country where this project is creating social impact
United States, NE
Additional countries or regions
now being rolled out globally
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Scaling (the next step will be growing impact on a regional or even global scale)
The Need: What social or environmental problem are you trying to solve?
As demonstrated by the 2012 US drought and recent Russian drought of 2010, the world has been under growing water related stress which is already limiting Ag production. Farmers are under growing volatility of weather, water constraints, drying up wells, deeper pumping of ground water and thus rising costs, increased farm sizes, limited labor and overall growing complexity of farming. The opportunity for Syngenta to bring a comprehensive solution that will address these issues in the US Corn belt was identified in 2009 leveraging its technologies and adjacencies to enable farmers to get numerous benefits through better performance, optimizing water use across the farm, less volatility, reduced irrigation and application costs, better agronomic and marketing decisions etc.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
The solution delivers optimal performance for Corn growers in the US Corn belt under water limited conditions through a comprehensive integrated offer which includes seeds, traits, complete crop protection and crop enhancement protocols, coupled with advanced irrigation technologies, sensing equipment and agronomic advice. The solution was readily accepted in 2012 by farmers , Ag channels, local agronomists and the industry based on its ease-of-use and improved performance which outyielded grower standard practices while using 25% less water. The solutions broad applicability across different crops and geographies gives it the potential to make a major contribution to countering water-related problems in the future.
The Solution: Why is this solution innovative for your company and industry?
the Solution is so innovative becuase it brings together many technologies and partners in a way that has never been done before. the customer sees one integrated solution without the burden of multiple vendors and the components work together to deliver synergy that has been very complex to integrate for an individual farmer or an individual company. We've brought all the pieces together for value creation to all stakeholders.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities.
Different activities brought together made the solution viable and a reality in the market. First, the technologies need to be proven individually which was an activity my team performed in collaboration with Universities in the area, funded by my organization. Then, the combination was needed through ground breaking partnerships with irrigation, sensign and IT companies to integrate and make the solution "plug-n-play", simple and comprehensive, while considering the variaty of farmers, farms, equipment, climatic conditions and individual practices. For these to work, we partnered with channels and our customers to test, tweak and prove the solution in real conditions. These made the solution not only better, but also immediately adopted by some of the leading growers in the area (and the world).
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Many are working in the space of water, irrigation and crops however none have brought to market such an integrated offer and related support at scale. Our partners include Lindsay Corp, one of the leading mechanized irrigation companies and as stated, our channel partners and growers. All of these enabled the success and these relationships are also at the foundation of further improvements and innovation which will continue to grow the solution further.
This Entry is about (Issues)
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
In the last few years we've seen more and more impact of droughts and climate change globally. The impact of reducing water while improving productivity in Agriculture and food production has been known however making it a reality through the use of many existing technologies in a compeling and ease to use way has been the real breakthrough. We've seen our own (syngenta) technologies work and improve farmer productivity over the years and have beneficial impact in drought conditions. We've also developed leading drought tolerant/water optimized Corn hybrids to help specifically in drought prone regions under water limitations yet bringing all the pieces together, truly looking at the problem from a customer's perspecitve and partnering with them allowed us to differentiate and bring to market a truly impactful solution which can, literally, change the world.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
We've demostrated that the solution can deliver superior results to grower practices under 25% less water. Crop production for our US customers in the worst drought in 50 years was astonishing when compared to adjacent fields, competing technologies (even within the same farm).
What is your projected impact over the next 1 to 3 years?
Our plan is to address a significant portion in the US Corn belt as well as expand to other regions an crops. We're already getting significant pull from African countries and Eastern Europe, while other adapted small versions of the solutions are being deployed in developing countries with smaller farms (e.g. for vegetable growers in India).
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
It is already a success however, service levels of an integrated, multi-tiered, cross technology platform, at scale is a hard thing to maintain, not to mention while delivering continuous improvements and newer, better performance. These are the chanllenges yet also our competitive advantage.
What is the benefit or value you're creating for your business?
The project is already commericially successful and fully viable in supporting itself.
How are you leveraging internal resources (funds, time, knowledge, etc.) to support this initiative?
until now I've been able to secure budget and resources to enable the creation and development of the solution through business development and internal stakeholders. From now, once it is already generating significant cash, it is commericallly independant and self sustaining by the local organization for further rollout. on a global level, my team continues to supprt with more enthusiasm across the company which makes it even more attractive. The project just won the Syngenta innovation award for 2012 and will continue to grow and expand.
Expand on your answer, explaining the long-term funding and support plan.
Tell us about your partnerships across your company and externally that are key to your project's success.
As descrived, partnering within the company between the global and local team, budgeting support from HQ and while partnering with external companies (e.g. Lindsay) for resources, budgets and know how enabled the success thus far and will continue into the future.
What internal support have you gotten for your project? What kind of push-back have you received?
Support for innovation is at the heart of Syngenta. Of course, there are always push backs, wanting to see returns, challenging the status quo and our ways of working, not to mention the other stakeholders which could be competing at some level with us. These are all relevant and important to address early and build the confidence, trust and show early success to satisfy the doubters.