Disease Management: Advancing Plant Health

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Disease Management: Advancing Plant Health


Disease is the silent killer of crops, starting deep inside the plant before manifesting as wilting, browning, molding, and rotting. We’re focused on developing technologies to help farmers quickly and easily identify diseases so plants can be treated before a disease spreads. We’re also looking to prevent diseases before they start by providing hearty, disease-resistant plants and exploring alternative solutions like microbials.

Using Data Science and Artificial Intelligence to Identify Diseases Early

We’re investigating the use of artificial intelligence known as deep learning, to identify and diagnose corn crop diseases in real time right from the field. The ability to identify and address diseases quickly can have a huge impact on a farmer’s time, resources, and ultimately the productivity of their crops.

Microbials to Support Plant Health

Microbes can be found in nature and plants have always used them to thrive. In agriculture, we are developing products containing microbes that can be applied to the surface of seeds and complement — or provide an alternative to — chemical agricultural products. The BioAg Alliance, a partnership between Monsanto and Novozymes, has created microbials which use beneficial fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms to help plants better absorb nutrients and ward off pests and disease.

Learn more about how agricultural biologicals help protect our farmers’ crops.

Plant Breeding and Biotechnology for Disease Resistance

Humans have been using plant breeding techniques to improve our food and crops for thousands of years. By cross-breeding plants that have shown a natural resistance to certain diseases, we can create crops more likely to thrive despite disease pressure.

In the 1980s, scientists began using biotechnology, a method of transferring beneficial genes like disease resistance directly into a plant without the long process of trial and error of traditional breeding techniques. For example, the Hawaiian papaya industry was being devastated by the Papaya Ringspot virus. Using biotechnology, scientists were able to save the Rainbow Papaya by inserting a gene that allowed the plant to resist the disease and thrive. Today, thanks to biotechnology, the world continues to enjoy this fruit.

At Monsanto we use biotechnology, in combination with plant breeding, to develop crops that are resistance to plant-specific diseases, preventing diseases before they start.