There’s an evolution taking place in the crop production world as crop protection companies and a host of others seek to maximize the genetic potential of the seed you plant. Decades of success with what many call “traditional chemistry” will continue, but now companies are turning to biological approaches to protect crops and enhance plant performance.

The result will be a new set of options in the future for keeping plants healthier and protecting crop yield potential until the combines roll. How this new approach to plant performance will look is still unfolding, but rest assured you’ll see more new ways to boost yields by the end of the decade.

Many of the moves creating new-think approaches to crop production come as major players in traditional chemistries acquire companies or develop new relationships. For example, BASF acquired Becker-Underwood and later created the Functional Crop Care division.

“For us, Functional Crop Care is not just about biologicals and inoculants,” says Juergen Huff, senior vice president, Functional Crop Care, BASF. “It’s about combining tools to increase the farmer’s yield.”

He explains the goal is to get away from “product definitions” and move toward solution-based decision-making.

Plant breeders have estimated the built-in genetic potential yield for corn is 500 bu./acre or more; for soybeans, the number is 200 bu. or higher. Super crop contest yields have hit records that show those numbers aren’t far off. You want to hang on to every potential bushel that crop can produce, and these new approaches could help.

Huff says BASF is working on novel ways to increase fertilizer efficiency in the soil. “Inoculants and nitrogen management have been around in soybeans for some time,” he says. “We have nitrogen management technology in our pipeline that we’ll be bringing to market.”