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Agrimarketing : April 2008
70 AgriMarketing April 2008 AM: Please provide an overview of EMD and its activities in North America. PS: EMD Crop BioScience is a leading developer of crop-enhancing prod- ucts. As a science-based company, we take a lead role in researching, devel- oping and commercializing technolo- gies that improve plant health. Our heritage organization, Nitra- gin, Inc. has a rich history going back almost 110 years. It was originally founded as the Nitragin Company in 1898 after a Milwaukee entrepreneur purchased rights to a commercial process for the production of nitrogen-fixing rhizobia. In 1991, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, purchased the business and it became a part of Merck KGaA's North Ameri- can EMD group. The company pur- chased Ontario-based Agribiotics, Inc. in 2006. Today EMD Crop Bio- Science is the world's leading legume inoculant producer and marketer. AM: Why did you join EMD? PS: There's been a high level of excite- ment surrounding the new technolo- gies coming out of EMD Crop Bio- Science, so I was very intrigued when the opportunity arose. I'd seen the research on LCO Pro- moter Technology and the consistent Return On Investment (ROI) that Optimize had been bringing to soy- bean growers. In fact, Kip Cullers had just broken his own soybean yield world record using Optimize around the time I was in discussions about the position. I could see this was a very exciting time for the company and knew it was just the beginning for LCO Promoter Technology, as it was about to be introduced to corn growers in Torque IF. AM: What is LCO Promoter Technology? PS: LCO Promoter Technology is a unique molecule (Lipo-chitooligosac- charide) that turns on vital growth processes independent of soil and weather conditions. It enhances the natural growing process of plants. The result is a stronger, healthier start for plants, translating into higher yields and better returns at the end of the season. Plants treated with LCO Pro- moter Technology are better able to survive environmental stresses. And when plants are able to survive and thrive, the return on investment is considerably higher because the crop is better able to perform to its genetic potential. Many soybean growers have become familiar with the technology in Optimize and we've just launched our first LCO product in corn, Torque IF for in-furrow applications. AM: What do you see as one of the biggest challenges for EMD Crop BioScience over the next few years? PS: Because LCO Promoter Technol- ogy is new for many growers, our biggest task in the short term is gen- erating awareness. We have field data and testimonials that show this tech- nology offers incredible ROI for growers, but we still need to over- come the natural skepticism that accompanies any new technology. That takes much more than a tra- ditional communications plan. We need to generate awareness among the growers, educate retailers and experts, and get them all talking to each other. Ultimately, growers won't try LCO Promoter Technology just because we have convinced them. They'll need to hear it from their neighbors and local experts. Our main objective is to make the facts available and stimulate conversation and trials. That's been a flourishing model for Optimize and it appears to be just as successful for Torque IF. AM: How do you communicate with your target markets? PS: We have a field sales force that informs, educates and raises aware- ness among retailers, influencers and, most importantly, the growers. Of course, our marketing depart- ment employs traditional advertising and strategic public relations, but we also focus on generating conversa- tions about our technology and our products with word-of-mouth tactics. For example, over the past year we've held a series of grower teleconferences to spark word-of-mouth communica- tion between growers, university experts and retailers. Those partici- pants will discuss their experiences with their neighbors and colleagues, spreading more awareness. AM: What is your outlook for the 2008 North American agricultural economy? PS: The agricultural economy has never been better for growers in North America and our primary task as a science-based company is to help growers capitalize on that by enhanc- ing and protecting their yields. Cur- rent commodity prices present a great profit potential for growers and it magnifies the ROI our products can offer them. It's a great time for North American growers and, we believe, a great time for EMD Crop BioScience as well. AM Name: Paul Schmidt Title: President, EMD Crop BioScience, Brookfield, WI Career: Most recently was VP of New Business Ventures for Bayer CropScience. Began his 25 years in the crop protection industry with Bayer legacy company Hoechst. Education: B.S. in Agronomy at the University of Saskatchewan. NEW TECHNOLOGY; NEW LEADERSHIP : EMD Crop BioScience
May 2008 Supplement