The emergence of Corteva two years ago from the merger of Dow Agrosciences and DuPont put a new player on the agriculture stage — a company focused on agriculture that had to merge different cultures and product brands.
Corteva recently turned two and Bryce Eger, president of Corteva Canada, talked about the evolution of the company and its new sustainability strategy.
Why it matters: When Corteva was created, it combined some of the biggest brands in agriculture and said its goal was to have a clear focus, market visibility, and more productive R & D.
Corteva was split off as an agriculture-only company from the merged DowDuPont company in 2019, which gave it the chance to create a new culture.
Eger said the company set out to create a new cultural foundation. It includes an openness designed to draw innovation from all levels of the organization, from grassroots customers to executives.
“It is built on bottom-up innovation, which comes from the field.”
Corteva has pared down its offerings to two seed brands: Pioneer, a well-known seed company sold by farmer reps and a newly created brand, Brevant, sold through agriculture retailers.
“They are meant to be complementary brands. Farmers want choice, who they purchase from and where they purchase,” says Eger.
“We look at both Brevant and Pioneer being the right fit for the right customer. There are a number of customers who purchase from both brands.”
Seed products come from the same development pipeline.
Eger says the company continued to launch products and pointed to the Enlist E3 trait that increases the herbicide-resistant use options for soybeans. On the crop protection side, he noted the launch of Commenza, a soil-applied herbicide with three modes of action, as a highlight.
Traditionally, the discussion with a crop inputs company would stop there, at seeds and crop protection, but Eger says digital platforms have become important enough that they talk about digital, seeds and crop protection as “the three-legged stool.”
The digital side adds value through the monitoring of crop and data collection, with the goal of bringing value to farmer decision making.
Sustainability goals set
A key recommendation in a new 14-point sustainability policy for Corteva is to take a greater role in training farmers.
Eger says the company and its predecessors in Canada have a long history of farmer education and they just need to further enhance that role.
Another goal is to increase yields by 20 per cent while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent.
Eger says that will be accomplished through incremental gains made each year in seed productivity through the company’s research and development pipeline, along with increased efficiency in the use of inputs through data analysis.
He also noted new products to address specific problems, such as nitrogen stability and drought tolerance, will help reduce environmental impact while increasing yield.
Managing during a pandemic
Safety of people was the company’s priority during the pandemic, says Eger, but generally operations carried on. As a national firm, Corteva had to monitor restrictions at the provincial and regional levels.
It learned how to manage under the pandemic and in many cases, business operations moved completely to virtual.
“It was easy to do because the technology was already there,” says Eger.
In-person events were made smaller, with more one-on-one and small group interactions.
“I’m exceptionally proud of all of our team and how they adapted and have been resilient. Literally, over the course of 24 hours, they had to shift how to deliver a message or connect with customers and retails.”
Eger says he recently talked with a company agronomist who was able to help twice as many farmers after a frost event because those farmers shared photos and videos of their crops. There was less need to visit as many fields in person.
John Greig is editor of Farmtario. His article appeared in the July 12, 2021 issue.