Bayer Crop Science and Jordan College create partnership

Bayer Cropscience meeting

With the arrival of the Jordan Agricultural Research Center, Fresno State is continuing to expand its research and academic connections with leading industry partners in the Central Valley.

One of its newest partners, Bayer Cropscience, hosted Fresno State staff and faculty at its Western Field Technology Station (WFTS) in September to discuss potential collaborative initiatives.

Bayer representatives Louis Holloway, Randy Meyers, Amber Smith, Raksha Kuenen, and Fernando Baesso discussed the WFTS's testing purposes and capabilities, industry hiring suggestions and necessary skills for college graduates and ag chemical industry opportunities besides just plant science.

The hosts from Bayer also gave a facility tour, shared about their daily activities, their professional career paths, and their “eye opening experiences” in agrochemical industry. These testimonies helped drive home the breadth of talent, abilities and training that is needed for today's college graduate.

Fresno State plant science faculty Sharon Benes, Gurreet Brar, David Goorahoo and Jacob Wenger in return offered suggestions on ways faculty and students could collaborate with Bayer on real life lab experiences, research and other opportunities.

Potential future collaborative projects that were suggested at the meeting included (and more to come in the future):

- Joint field lab experiments with Raksha Kuenen and Amber Smith from the WFTS with Fresno State entomologist Dr. Wenger. Kuenen and/or Smith could attend a university lab to supervise and teach field experiment techniques and proper safety training. Professor Wenger could bring the students to the station for multiple days of hands-on field testing experience under the supervision of both Raksha and Amber.

- Visits by Louis Holloway, Jim McNutt, and other Bayer representatives to the Fresno State campus farm to meet with the farm manager to discuss how Bayer could partner in on-campus projects. Potential projects could be demonstration trials comparing Bayer program treatments to the campus farm’s normal maintenance program. Field days could then be planned to jointly promote the Bayer program as well as Fresno State University as a partner in agriculture and education.

- Fresno State is trying to build a program to help educate youth about agricultural sciences, and may utilize Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense program as a model.

Later in the fall, the first fruit of the partnership included several connections by Bayer representatives with students, faculty and area industry.

In early October, Kevin Adam, SeedGrowth Strategic Business Lead at BCS spoke to agricultural business classes on campus about key issues in the field.

Two weeks later, Louis Holloway spoke on campus to Dr. Dave Goorahoo's plant science vegetable production class and held an open discussion about careers in the agrochemical industry.

In December, Bill Green and the campus Center for Irrigation Technology helped host five half-day seminars that included sessions on fertigation techniques and equipment and information on Bayer Crop Science's Velum Novel Nematicide/Fungicide. 

The partnership was originally announced in May at the Jordan Agricultural Research Center ribbon-cutting and included a $200,000 entomology research lab endowment.

The Crop Science division of Bayer creates seeds, crop protection and non-agricultural pest control products to help ensure an ample supply of high-quality food, feed, fiber and renewable raw materials. It also works with locally-adapted agricultural technologies that are focused on improving crop productivity and quality. Bayer has a Fresno office devoted to research and sales, and its biologics and vegetable seeds businesses occupy a facility in West Sacramento.

Bayer also sponsored a Bayer graduate fellowship for Fresno State student Annabel Rodriguez (of Reedley), one of three awarded nationally by the company. Her master’s research is on the effect of irrigation regimes on soil movement and nematicidal efficacy of Fluopyram fungicide in grape production.

Rodriguez started working as an intern for the company in 2011 and has assisted Bayer scientists in identifying different insects, weeds and crop pathogens. She has also helped start and monitor new trials for experimental pesticides to evaluate their efficacy and potential effects.

Other Fresno State students to serve as program interns include Holly Deniston-Sheets (Fresno), Pedro Guillen (Gonzales), Karina Mendez (Salinas), Eric Quintero (Salinas), Josue Ruiz (Salinas) and Allen Vizcarra (Chowchilla), as well as recent graduates Mala To and Nadia (Juarez) Gonzalez.