Published on 04/26/18

Monsanto global plant breeding donates second research planter to UGA's Iron Horse Farm

By Merritt Melancon

No matter what kind of technology plant breeders use in the lab, developing more sustainable and productive crop varieties takes a lot of time in the field. 

The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ soybean-breeding program recently received a new cone plot planter that will allow the soybean breeding team to enhance their research. 

They unveiled the new ALMACO plot planter, donated by Monsanto global plant breeding, at UGA’s Iron Horse Farm, where the research plots of UGA soybean-breeding leader and Professor Zenglu Li are located. 

The planter was used at Monsanto’s research station in Maryland until recently, according to Li. The planter will significantly help in planting our soybean research plots at the Iron Horse Farm and other research centers in Georgia, he said. 

“We are pleased to provide this planter donation to the University of Georgia to help provide the tools to prepare the next generation of agricultural scientists and leaders,” said J.D. Rossouw, Monsanto North America and Latin America North plant breeding lead. “Encouraging students to pursue careers in agricultural industries and help drive food security is key for the future.”

Research plot planters are custom-built to plant four rows of seeds at a time, which allows scientists to test thousands of breeding lines in one field. Commercial-production planters, used by farmers, are built to maximize the number of rows that can be planted in one pass. 

That’s why it makes sense to get as much use as possible out of these highly specialized, rare planters, and why Li was glad he could work with Monsanto to secure this plot planter for his yield trials at the Iron Horse Farm and other research centers. 

Monsanto is replacing much of its variety-trial planting fleet with precision planters that employ more artificial intelligence and automation to speed up the yield-trial planting process.

UGA’s 660-acre Iron Horse Farm is situated on the border of Oconee and Greene counties south of UGA’s Athens campus. The mission of the farm is to provide support for field research, demonstrations and a teaching laboratory that’s convenient for faculty, scientists and graduate students from the UGA Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and other departments and agencies to use.    

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