Monsanto opens $6 million water utilization learning center

Monsanto's bioengineered crops featured at new water utilization center.
Monsanto's bioengineered crops featured at new water utilization center.
Agribusiness giant Monsanto today opened a $6 million facility in Gothenburg, Nebraska to help train farmers in water utilization, efficiency and conservation techniques.

The Water Utilization Learning Center, the first of its kind in agriculture, is designed to study agronomic practices and bioengineering water-use efficiency technologies such as drought-tolerant cropping systems.

Specialized farm equipment used for irrigation, such as sub-surface drip systems and technologies that measure soil moisture, can produce greater efficiencies, agriculture experts say.

But Monsanto is using bioengineering technology to breed crops that are genetically more resistant to drought.

Robb Fraley, Monsanto chief technology officer, said 10 million to 13 million acres of corn-planted farmland in the United States may be affected by at least moderate drought.

The 155-acre farm and learning center, located in the transition zone from dryland acres to irrigated acres on the western High Plains, displays Monsanto's drought-tolerant technology for corn, soybeans and other crops.

Fraley said the center will be hardwired to eventually conduct virtual tours of robotics and seed analytics facilities in remote locations such as Monsanto's breeding facility in Ankeny, Iowa.

The site also includes a 20,000 square foot breeding station and a smaller building to dry corn.