Bayer opens new Soybean Breeding, Trait Station in Marion, Ark.

New Soybean Breeding and Trait Development Station could help Mid-South producers grow more soybeans.

You could tell it was not just another ribbon-cutting for Chris Tinius.

“This is a very special place,” said Tinius, global soybean breeding director for Bayer. “It’s a place where soybean varieties get born. Good ones.”

Tinius was speaking at the grand opening of the new $6-million Soybean Breeding and Trait Development Center, located just north of Marion in the heart of the Arkansas portion of the Mississippi Delta.

The new facility is located on the site of another research facility, owned by a competitor, where Grover Shannon, a longtime soybean breeder who now works with the University of Missouri, was the first director. Dr. Shannon attended the March 14 opening of the new Bayer Soybean Station.

Dr. Tinius also worked at the location early in his career before moving on to Bayer and rising to his current position. As global soybean breeding director, he is responsible for developing the company’s line of Credenz soybeans.

Group 4 and 5 soybeans

In a press release, Bayer said the new, innovative facility “builds on a proven history of profitable, high-yielding soybean varieties that Bayer brings to market through its flagship Credenz soybean brand. Work here will focus on providing the maturity group 4 and 5 varieties that are essential to soybean production in the South.”

It said southern soybean growers will reap the benefits of an expanded breeding program at the station, which is surrounded by 180 acres of research and showcase plots just north of Marion along Interstate 55.

In addition to the Marion site, Bayer also operates three other regional sites for U.S. soybean breeding. The Marion Station is part of Bayer’s commitment to invest nearly $1 billion in the United States between 2013 and 2016 in new facilities and capital expansion, company officials said.

“Bayer is committed to making the highest opportunity for profit available to soybean growers,” said Mike Gilbert, Bayer vice president and head of global breeding and trait development. “The Credenz lineup offers the smart genetics, traits and varieties growers need today and this facility will ensure the Bayer soybean portfolio continues to serve grower needs going forward.

“For growers and for Bayer, it is important to continue expanding our seeds business through research and development, and this facility will bring together significant scientific and technology resources to support the advancement of the agricultural industry, specifically for soybean trait and plant research.”

Automated facility

The Breeding and Trait Development Station will employ about 10 people who will work with a larger global team to promote advanced research on genetics, chemistry, and traits to provide holistic agricultural solutions to customers around the world. In addition to these full-time employees, many area residents will be hired each year to assist with planting and harvesting activities.

Members of the soybean breeding and trait development discussed the innovative new equipment Bayer is using to improve efficiency and reduce costs in its breeding efforts.

Marion Mayor Frank Fogleman, a farmer, welcomed Bayer officials and employees and said he was glad to see the investment and the “high-paying research jobs that will be associated with this facility.

“I’m also hoping this investment will serve as a catalyst for encouraging more of your young to become involved in agriculture,” he said. “We need this kind of investment and their involvement if we hope to feed and clothe the number of people who could be in our world over the next 30-plus years.”

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