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DuPont Launches Next Generation Technology to Accelerate Corn Research and Increase Productivity


New Facility Combines Cutting-Edge Robotics, Imaging for 24/7 Research

DuPont today opened the doors to a revolutionary approach to evaluating advanced plant genetics and new biotechnology traits that the company says will help increase productivity. DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred opened a new research and greenhouse facility that brings together cutting-edge robotics and imaging, and the capability to grow test plants at an accelerated rate.

“The technology in this new, state-of-the-art research facility will significantly increase the rate at which we bring new and better products to our customers to meet increased demand for grain for food, feed, fuel and materials,” said William S. Niebur, DuPont vice president, Crop Genetics Research and Development. ;

The 12,000 square foot facility expands the capacity of proprietary FAST Corn technology and introduces robotics to facilitate testing 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It increases testing throughput eight-fold over the original FAST Corn facility and process.

“Innovation is at the core of our customers’ success,” Niebur said. “This new high throughput approach is exciting news for corn growers. It allows Pioneer research scientists to evaluate advanced plant genetics and critical new traits more quickly in more plants, ultimately delivering new discoveries faster to Pioneer customers.”

FAST Corn – Functional Analysis System for Traits – allows researchers to grow corn to maturity in a fraction of the time required for traditional corn. Before FAST Corn, researchers were required to wait for a plant to reach full maturity before studying the affect of new traits.

Utilizing FAST Corn technology, Pioneer researchers can grow first generation corn plants to maturity in approximately two months, compared to more than 100 days in field conditions. And, if the first generation results are promising, a second generation can be planted in the greenhouse environment immediately, instead of waiting for the next year’s growing season as would happen in field testing.

“Testing that historically would take two to three years in a field environment can now be completed in six to nine months,” Niebur said.

An important element of the FAST Corn process is the use of a fully-automated digital imaging system to precisely measure the growth of a corn plant throughout its lifecycle. The imaging process quantifies growth and other visual data such as plant color. Advanced plant genetics and traits with beneficial properties can be quickly identified in the first or second generation, and then advanced to a field testing program.

“Field testing of new traits and genetics will always be a critical part of the research process to ensure that products perform predictably in a diverse set of environments,” Niebur said. “By using these technologies, we are ensuring that only the most promising and valuable products are advanced to field testing.”

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, is the world’s leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant genetics in nearly 70 countries.


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