An integrated approach to plant breeding, product positioning and agronomic management are key to develop drought-tolerant crops, which will play a major role in sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, William S. Niebur, vice president – DuPont Crop Genetics Research and Development, told attendees at the grower conference, “Maize and Water Synergy.”

“Plant breeding today combines elite genetics with a matrix of technologies to accelerate the rate of yield gain,” said Niebur. “Modern biotechnology provides plant breeders with powerful tools to increase productivity for farmers on a truly global scale, while local research allows us to understand the challenges and opportunities in individual environments.”

The event, hosted by Pioneer Hi-Bred – a DuPont business -– brought together farmers from across France to discuss how product choices and agronomic knowledge are critical to increasing maize productivity while effectively managing and preserving water resources.

“There is a growing challenge to produce more food with fewer resources as population and demand for agricultural products increases,” said Niebur. “We must utilize all the tools and technologies available to us to meet this demand in a way that works within the earth’s means.”

Pioneer began breeding for drought tolerance more than 50 years ago to maximize productivity in water stress conditions; the program continues today with focus on two product development initiatives. The Drought I initiative leverages native drought genes to deliver significant improvements in yield and return on investment for drought-prone areas. The Drought II initiative integrates transgenic and molecular breeding approaches into the most elite and adapted germplasm to protect maize yields during drought conditions in all environments.

The Maize and Water Synergy conference was convened in order to lend Pioneer’s agronomy expertise in maize growing and water use to help French maize farmers maximize their profitability while limiting water use. More than 14 million metric tons of maize is produced by the country each year. Irrigation accounts for approximately one third of total water consumption in France annually.