Bayer has opened a new state-of-the-art, automated greenhouse facility in Marana, Arizona. The approximately $100 million facility will serve as a global product design center for corn, the only crop to be grown there, according to a news release.
The Marana facility also will capitalize on innovation advancements in proprietary seed chipping, advanced marker technology, automation and data science.
Seed chipping involves slicing off a tiny piece of an individual seed to undergo DNA analysis. The seed remains viable so it can be grown in breeding trials.
The Marana greenhouses, which occupies 300,000 square feet of growing space, are designed for the sustainable use of inputs throughout the research process. Water used for crops will be recycled, 100% of harvested materials will be used for compost and beneficial insects will be used to reduce pesticide applications.
By locating the Marana Greenhouse facility in the Arizona desert instead of Midwest where corn is traditionally grown, more days of warmth and sunlight will allow researchers to maintain plants year-round, enabling three to four corn crop cycles annually.
By using the controlled environment of the greenhouses, breeding comes indoors, which eliminates crop exposure to adverse weather conditions and prevents delays in new seed development. Growing conditions can be customized to simulate various climate conditions around the world.