Agriculture has always been a key component for BASF, and the company has implemented strategies to strengthen its presence in the marketplace.

“Two years ago we embarked on our 2020 strategy,” explains Mark Shillingford, global strategic marketing crop protection head of corn and soybeans for BASF. “We decided to look at how farmers view their crops instead of purely being a company that supplies typical herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and seed treatments.”

The company remains committed to those four core business units of herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and seed treatments, but it has added a fifth unit: functional crop care.

“The functional crop care area will focus beyond our current products and into how we can integrate all our core products and develop broad-based solutions for our customers,” Shillingford says. “In the past, we focused a lot on individual products. But our customers want more.

 “For U.S. corn producers, one of the most common ways to increase yield has been to increase plant population,” he continues. “With these increased populations, plants become stressed. Also, with more corn-on-corn we are seeing new disease pressures. This will require a systems approach to manage disease, insect and weed pressure. We want to bring a complete package of solutions to producers.”

It’s a tall task for a global company. That’s because the knowledge base differs significantly from country to country. BASF’s corn portfolio reaches 13 countries and its soybean portfolio is in six countries. “Within these regions there are very different cultural practices and levels of technical understanding,” Shillingford explains. “We work to take successful technologies and services developed in one country and transfer that knowledge, portfolio and approach to other countries.”

It requires a different level of teaching, and in some cases a different approach to the market. “But the interesting thing is that at the end of the day, producers from all parts of the world want basically the same result: Produce more yield and better quality with optimized inputs. How we meet those needs differ, but the end result is the same,” Shillingford says.

It’s a different mind-set for a company that has traditionally been a supplier of crop protection products. But Shillingford says this new approach will not only benefit BASF customers, but also BASF itself.