Julia HARNAL

Vice President Global Sustainability & Governmental Affairs Agricultural Solutions, BASF

Markus SCHMID

Head of Business Management, Nitrogen Management, BASF

Now active across major input areas (crop protection, seeds and plant nutrition), how focused is BASF on R&D and bringing innovative products to the market?

 

For over a century, BASF has been at the forefront of innovation since BASF transformed food production with the world's first commercial fertilizers. Feeding the world’s growing population, while facing challenges such as unpredictable weather, efficient control of diseases and pests, scarcity of natural resources and available farmland, makes the need for innovation even more essential. We must continue the tradition of transformation with relentless innovation and practical action - getting mud on our boots and delivering real results for farmers and real value for society. After the successful integration of the acquired businesses and with the creation of our new strategy, we are beginning a new chapter in the long history of our division in agriculture.

 

BASF played a pivotal role in fertilizer development with the scaling up of the Haber Bosch process. How does plant nutrition fit into today’s BASF?

 

BASF’s focus today is on making fertilizers more efficient. We are building on our long-term fertilizer knowledge to support our customers. With nitrogen stabilizers we enable farmers to increase the nitrogen efficiency by reducing nitrogen losses such as ammonia, nitrous oxides and nitrate leaching. What makes BASF unique is the expertise in chemical production, R&D, formulation, application technology and agronomy under one roof. In the end the farmers are our customers and we also provide them with solutions in addition to crop protection and seeds.

 

What does the ideal fertilizer look like?

 

The ideal fertilizer has a high nutrient content, matches the nutrient demand of the plant when it is needed and has no negative environmental impact. This does not exist today. That´s why new tools in addition to 4R Nutrient Stewardship are needed, such as nitrogen stabilizers (the fifth R).

 

How important are partnerships in the move towards more sustainable food systems and more sustainable plant nutrition in particular?

 

Strategic partnerships are essential. They help fill gaps and drive innovation, for example in future trend topics like soil health and climate change resilience. Our focus is the farmer and we are working in partnerships to bring innovative solutions to the market faster. Our co-branding strategy is very successful, for example with selected fertilizer partners in Europe, China and South America. Partnerships are especially important in R&D, where we work with input and technology providers to co-develop new products and applications to bring them to market better and faster. In the academic field, BASF and Rothamsted Research, one of the world’s oldest and most acclaimed agricultural research centers, are working together in a long-term collaboration to shape modern sustainable agriculture. The goal is to jointly address current agricultural challenges by identifying areas of R&D where novel approaches to science can accelerate innovation.

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