Nutrien is an agriculture company. That’s what we do. And there’s a lot more innovation, research and technology development going on across the organization than people might realize.
From our expanding seed breeding capabilities, to developing new technologies that address nutrient efficiency, to discovering new biochemistry to enhance plant growth, work goes on every day across the company with a focus on creating new value for our customers.
“We have nearly 200 people working directly for innovation functions in research and development,” says Brent Smith, Vice President, Marketing & Innovation for Nutrien. “I don’t think people really understand the overall scope of what we're working on. It’s extensive.”
Half of the members of Nutrien’s Innovation group work strictly on the science side – all of them have master’s degrees or PhDs. That’s a lot of brain power being harnessed.
Our Proven Seed canola breeding program in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is a focal point around seed innovation. We own and operate rice and cotton breeding programs as well. At Nutrien’s formulation lab in Greeley, Colorado, the focus is on adjuvant technology, plant nutrition and crop protection innovation.
Meanwhile, we have two strategic partnerships on the plant health side of our proprietary business. We own a 25 percent stake in CH Biotech in Taiwan, which specializes in plant health and nutrition technologies. We also have a 70 percent stake in Agricen and a 30 percent stake in its sister company Agricen Sciences, both of which develop industry-leading biological technologies.
Add in production facility additions, seed acquisitions and the recent purchase of Brazil-based plant nutrition company Agrichem, and Nutrien’s innovation portfolio consists of more than 30 assets that span the globe.
Meanwhile, through our 2016 investment in ag-tech venture capital fund Finistere Ventures, we are strategic partners with other global companies like Bayer and PepsiCo. We also recently entered into a collaboration agreement with another venture fund, Anterra Capital. These relationships give Nutrien access to early-stage technology.
Smith says to expect a lot more aggregation and integration of technologies in the future.
“There's a lot of really exciting technologies out there – nutrient advisor technologies, crop planning technologies, seed technologies among others,” he says.
The recent unveiling of our new Nutrien Ag Solutions digital platform is another example of innovation. The digital hub will include agronomy services to provide data-driven advice and e-commerce capabilities to help growers to seamlessly plan, order and receive an unparalleled offering of products and services.
We’re still an agriculture company, but who says we can’t be high-tech at the same time.