To help farmers optimize seed selection decisions, we’re analyzing data on seed traits using anonymized data aggregated from the FBNSM network. One such trait is drought trait technology, commercially available as Genuity® DroughtGard®, developed by Monsanto® (now part of Bayer®). It is the only commercially available, genetically modified trait in corn developed specifically to provide drought tolerance.1
First, we looked at where farmers are using the DroughtGard® trait.
Where are Farmers Using DroughtGard®?
The map below shows market share of DroughtGard® by state in the FBN network based on data from 2014-2017.
Market Share of DroughtGard® in FBN by State (2014-2017)
Where is Soil Moisture the Lowest at Silking?
The map below highlights soil moisture during silking, a period when corn plants are sensitive to drought1, and therefore where DroughtGard® may provide the most benefit. It is clear from these maps that soil moisture levels vary substantially from year to year, but that some regions are more prone to challenging soil moisture conditions than others.2
To estimate when silking occurred in each county, we used a model3 that took into account each county’s average planting date and the average relative maturity of seed grown in that region. We used this same method, but with field-specific data, to estimate when silking occurred on individual fields in the analysis below.
Does DroughtGard® Increase Yield?
Next, we analyzed the yield changes observed when farmers plant the DroughtGard® trait. Because silking is a period when we know soil moisture matters, we analyzed yield changes associated with the DroughtGard® trait under varying levels of soil moisture at silking.
Specifically, we examined all fields in the FBN dataset on which both glyphosate/corn borer traited corn and glyphosate/corn borer/DroughtGard® traited corn were grown simultaneously, and compared the yields from each section of the field.
Using the methods described above, we estimated the cumulative degree days at which silking occurred. Using field-level weather data, we estimated the soil moisture experienced by each field during silking. Last, we used a statistical model to estimate how the DroughtGard® yield advantage changed under varying soil moisture conditions.
We observed yield increases associated with the DroughtGard® trait when soil moisture fell below 40 percent during silking.
Yield Advantage of DroughtGard® under Varying Soil Moisture Conditions During Silking
How Much Does DroughtGard® Cost?
When making seed decisions for your farm, it’s important to consider not only yield, but also price, in order to select the seed and traits that will maximize your profit. Using aggregated seed pricing data contributed anonymously by FBN network members, we calculated that DroughtGard® costs between $4-$13 more per bag, compared to glyphosate/corn borer traited corn. And, DroughtGard® costs around $70 more per bag than conventional corn.
Planting corn with DroughtGard® is associated with yield gains in locations that experience low soil moisture during silking, a period when corn plants are sensitive to drought. But, be sure to weigh any yield advantages you might expect against the additional seed cost.
If you want to calculate the potential net revenue for each trait package you are considering, you can use the following formula:
Net Revenue for Trait 1 = (Commodity Price x Expected Yield for Trait 1) - (Bag Price for Trait 1) x (Seeding Rate / Seeds per Bag) - (Chem and Other Production Costs for Trait 1)
Net Revenue for Trait 2 = (Commodity Price x Expected Yield for Trait 2) - (Bag Price for Trait 2) x (Seeding Rate / Seeds per Bag) - (Chem and Other Production Costs for Trait 2)
Commodity Price in $ per bushel
Expected Yield in bushels per acre
Bag Price in $ per bag
Seeding Rate in thousands of seeds per acre
Seeds per Bag in thousands of seeds per bag (typically 80 for corn and 140 for soybeans)
Chem and Other Production Costs in $ per acre
Data-contributing FBN members can access real-world yield data from millions of acres, and variety-specific pricing data based on 25,000 anonymized seed price records from the FBN network.
Genuity, DroughtGard, Roundup Ready 2 Yield, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend and Monsanto are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Bayer, or their respective owners. LibertyLink is a registered trademark of BASF.