Richard Chambers, Dow Seeds Leader
Dow Seeds was launched in 2015, completing the portfolio offered by Dow AgroSciences to Australian growers.
Dow Seeds has a strong presence in North America, South America, Asia and Europe. In Australia, Dow has been involved in wheat breeding since 2011 in collaboration with CSIRO, GRDC, New Zealand Plant and Food, and Seednet through its fully owned subsidiary, Advantage Wheats. Mr Richard Chambers, Business Leader ANZ Seeds, explains that “although we are relatively new to the Australian seeds business, we have decades of development and expertise behind what we are now bringing to market. We have developed a strong team throughout this period, with clear breeding goals, a clarity of purpose and passion to deliver consistent results. We also benefit from the breadth of knowledge and experience within the Dow AgroSciences team across Australia and globally, who provide a lot of value to this business. Our long established relationship with distributors around Australia also provides exceptionally helpful feedback, as well as a proven channel to market.”
Comprising a wheat and canola business, Dow Seeds will have two wheat varieties available for sale in 2016, DS Darwin and DS Pascal. These new early and main season varieties will be of interest to growers in central and southern NSW and Victoria. Dow Seeds canola breeding program builds on Dow’s success with high oleic, Omega-9 canola hybrids in North America . The Australian program is leveraging this knowledge and expertise to breed and select Omega-9 hybrids adapted to Australian growing conditions.
As with agrochemicals, developing seed varieties can take over ten years of research and several million dollars to bring a new product to market. Elite lines are identified as parents, which are then crossed, progeny screened and if deemed suitable, they begin up to eight years of in-field testing. Each variety is assessed for disease resistance, grain quality and yield in multiple target environments around Australia. Varieties that ‘tick all the boxes’ then go into a seed increase program. Sounds simple? Well no, as Northern Region Wheat Breeder Mr Nicholas Willey explains “what we are doing is innovative in our wheat breeding approach; some aspects of our systems are not being applied by any other wheat breeding company in Australia.” This is possible through our global research network within Dow, where we are able to utilise the facilities and skills of our colleagues in the United States, as well as learn from the experiences of our counterparts around the world.
Along with this global support, Mr Willey stresses that the key to the future is “our ability to collaborate with GRDC funded pre-breeding groups, who deliver material that helps us improve lines and can make significant changes to varieties.”
“It’s fantastic to finally have product in growers’ paddocks after so many years in the development phase. I’m really excited about our future and the potential to give to growers differentiated varieties that offer real advantages” adds Mr Chambers.