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Views and opinions: Iowa, other U.S. farmers rely on their North American trade
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Bayer reports on seed yields, layoffs during conference call


BOONE, Iowa — Farmers using the Bayer Corp.’s new Seed Advisor digital pipeline are showing higher yield results across 100,000 acres of corn in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, reporting an average yield of 9.1 bushels per acre versus what they would have planted without the Seed Advisor platform, the company has announced.

Over the past 12 months farmers recorded “a more than 80 percent win rate,” Bayer said last week in a press conference.

“Our Seed Advisor results show that by applying advanced machine learning techniques to our robust seed genetics library and expansive field testing, we help farmers make better decisions about the best hybrids to plant in their fields,” said Mike Stern, CEO of subsidiary The Climate Corp., who also serves as head of Digital Farming at the Germany-based Bayer.

“We have entered the next phase of digital farming, and predictive seed selection is only the beginning. From crop protection to fertility opportunities, we are expanding our research to strengthen the data science models that power our tools, and quickly advance projects through our R&D (research and development) pipeline to deliver digital agriculture innovations.”

Iowa farmer Rick DeGroote said he has used the Seed Advisor recommendations for 90 percent of his fields, “and if my results prove anything, it’s that this technology will be adopted quickly when it’s widely available.”

As a result of its success with the higher corn yields using Seed Advisor, the company said it is expanding its pre-commercial test of the Seed Advisor 2.0 platform to more farmers beginning in the fall to now include Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri.

Bayer also said its predictive seed research will now include soybeans across 150 farms selected for the expansion throughout Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota this season.

In the conference call, Bayer also said its planned layoffs announced last November are underway, affecting more than 12,500 employees as a result of its buyout of Monsanto Co. last year. Those cut include 4,100 staffers at its Crop Science division and a further 5,500-6,000 jobs spread out throughout Bayer’s corporate functions and supporting staff, and from its business services and country platform divisions.

Another 900 job cuts in R&D will come from its pharmaceuticals division and around 350 positions from its facility in Wuppertal, Germany, as well as roughly 1,100 jobs associated with the reorganization at Consumer Health.

The company declined to give the city or country locations of the job cuts. Officials also said a number of the company’s top scientists are being relocated from Germany to its Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis over the coming months.

Bayer said it forecasts a savings of more than $1.2 billion once the layoffs have been completed, set for the end of 2021.