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Monsanto 'megasite' (Cotton Research Center) in Texas
Nov '09
Cotton farmers on the High Plains are always looking for ways to improve their farm's profit potential, and two of the biggest opportunities for farmers to that are to increase yield potential and produce better quality fiber. Those are the goals of Monsanto Company's $10.5 million research "megasite" in Lubbock, where the company broke ground on the site. The megasite will provide a central point for the company's breeding and testing programs in the High Plains region.

"Texas is the major player in the U.S. cotton industry with more than 50 percent of the country's planted acres," said Dr. Trevor Hohls, Monsanto global cotton breeding lead. "We have made some great progress with well-adapted germplasm in the past couple of years and are seeing great results with Deltapine's Class of 09 varieties and Class of 10 candidates. This increase in research will provide continued breakthroughs in genetics and technology for the farm."

The site, the Monsanto Texas Cotton Research Center, is being developed on a 12.2-acre site within the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance Business Park. Hohls said it will draw together a number of programs and contribute additional resources in the area.

"This megasite will let our programs in Hale Center and Haskell work alongside discovery breeding, biotech and testing programs," Hohls explained. "A new testing center in South Texas will connect to these as well to provide additional environments to use in the breeding and testing of our products. We will be utilizing the latest technologies to select the traits of greatest interest, measure progress in our water-use efficiency program and conduct testing across diverse genetics and environments."

Kendall Bonds, Monsanto's western region testing lead, estimates that 20 employees will be based at the facility. He explains that due to the nature of the work, a large percentage of the team has advanced degrees in genetics or other technical fields. Specialized equipment and computer technologies are also a factor for the facility.

"Cotton farming requires a lot of specialized equipment. Our breeding and testing programs have similar needs, but on a different scale, as we look at individual plants or small numbers of plants rather than fields," Bonds explains. "Our site will bring these technologies together to help us do that field work and analyze data. The combination of the field and lab components enables us to determine what is working well and the opportunities we have will produce real returns on our investment for farmers and the company."

Leadership of the Plains Cotton Growers Association, city government and the Texas Senate agriculture committee were among the participants in the groundbreaking.

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy.


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