Destinations asked Matthias Horsch, BASF Head of Marketing
Agricultural Products in Ukraine, Moldova and Caucasus, what the company’s priorities in innovations
area for Agricultural Solutions division are.
– Are innovations in high demand among Ukrainian farmers? To what extent are Ukrainian agrarians open to innovations, and what products are of fundamental importance for them?
From my personal experience, Ukrainian farmers are real innovators. They are looking for products and possibilities to intensify the production and to increase its efficiency. In BASF, we try to support farmers’ demand for innovations as well because our goal is to launch innovations to the market every year. I think another important trend is digitalization. We try to integrate a wide range of digital technologies and solutions to really optimize farming and reduce the risk. That is called precision farming – to bring everything at the right time and in the right place. And in this segment we are also trying to support farmers. And, yes, Ukrainian agrarians are really open to innovations.
– Digitalization will significantly increase profits, agrarians are convinced. What innovative solutions can BASF offer to agricultural producers in the digital world?
Each area of our modern life is about data – everybody is creating data all the time. Now with this digital transformation people start trying to be able to get use out of this data. Of course, in agri- culture, which is fundamental for people all over the world, we also have a lot of data. Using digital technologies and data, BASF is creating additional value for our customers and increasing the efficiency of its products. We offer digital farming solutions under the brand of xarvio™ which will help the farmer on one hand to simplify the daily work and on the other hand to optimize the outcome. This is our aim and that is what xarvio™ is working on.
– BASF’s xarvio™ Digital Farming Solutions support growers in their daily decision-making, enabling them to optimize their crop production, increase efficiency and manage the risk. Can you tell us more about xarvio™ products?
Are they already available for Ukrainian farmers?
We have already launched two tools.
The current xarvio™ portfolio is based on two main products – xarvio™ SCOUT ING and xarvio™ FIELD MAN - AGER. xarvio™ SCOUT ING, and its name shows a little bit the aim of it to detect in-field problems just by taking a photo. The photo will be uploaded to a data cloud and the algorithms of the app will give answers to the user on disease recognition, weeds or pests identification, leaf damage detection and other daily crop issues.
xarvio™ FIELD MANA GER is a more sophisticated tool, which really tries to optimize the daily work of a farmer. The very unique and very cool thing is that it works with prediction models. The farmer has to identify the field with a satellite map and then to put what kind of crop he would like to grow, what the soil is about and which day he is going to sow. Then xarvio™ FIELD MANA GER calculates and gives the farmer recommendations based on climatic prediction models and current in-season risks so it forecasts what the weather conditions will be for the specified field in next days. It also predicts the growth stage of the crop on the moment according to statistical data.
The app provides a lot of information on available plant protection products included in a data link. And with all this the algorithm calculates how to bring the right product at the right time in the right place for the farmer. That is what is called precision farming and it helps farmer to optimize the input and to maximize the outcome. BASF has already got positive feedback on xarvio™ Digital Farming Solutions so this is something that works very well and is highly appreciated by farmers.
– What is the innovative product life cycle? When does innovation cease to be innovation?
I think you cannot fix it in time frame. Innovation life cycle for seeds may be much shorter than for plant protection products for example. I would say innovation is measured by its uniqueness. When you are launching something, which is unique on the market, and you do not have any product that is similar, then you get the innovation. And this is not ending as long as there is nothing else like this.
I can give you an example. BASF has in its portfolio a product called Systiva®. This is a seed treatment product, which is not unique because there are many seed treatment products in the ukrainian market. The uniqueness of Systiva® is that the depot of active ingredient applied on the seed grows with the plant, so the farmer gets the foliar protection for his crop till the second application of fungicide (T2). We have launched this product five or six years ago, and still there is nothing else like this on the market. As Systiva® is the first and the only seed-applied fungicide to control early foliar disease, it is what I call innovation.
– This year BASF announced to the media press release about new active ingredient Revysol®, can you tell us when Ukrainian farmers will take the chance to test it on their fields?
There is a very strong pipeline of innovative products in BASF, and we are working at the moment to introduce them in many countries all over the world. Revysol® is the next product generation we are going to launch, and I think in Ukraine it may take three to five years. We are depending on regulation in other countries to be able to bring the registration also to Ukraine. Revysol® is an innovative fungicidal active ingredient for crop protection from the chemical class of Triazoles. Each triazole acts slightly different, and their activity spectrum can vary. Due to its unique chemical properties, Revysol® is extremely flexible and gives very good solution for the farm. We’ve invested a lot in R&D of this active ingredient, and we arevery happy and proud to bring this new tool into a lot of markets all over the world. I believe Revysol® will bring a lot of benefits as well to ukrainian farmers.
– How do you see the Ukrainian agribusiness standing on the global market in the future?
I think the potential of Ukrainian agribusiness is huge. And this is not only because of the global companies such as BASF. The best soil conditions and the huge area of agricultural land – alone these two factors are proving Ukraine has a strong effect on global agribusiness. And the next impact is about the character and the mentality of Ukrainian farmers which are longing for innovations and driving the development. And I would say in some crops like for example sunflower, Ukraine is not only developing locally – it is really driving the developing of sunflower worldwide.
– What is your personal business goal for working in Ukraine?
Here in Ukraine I am leading the marketing team for six months already. Using the experience I have from working in the agricultural business for several years I hope I can bring some benefits and value to the team. I would like to enforce the
team to work on developing projects to be able to launch innovations as quick as possible to the market because this is the key essential for a company like BASF to come with innovations.
And as for my personal goal, I would like to help BASF Ukraine to maintain the successful development it has been showing over the last years. BASF is a very ambitious company and our colleagues in Ukraine are very ambitious. I really hope, that together with my team we really can bring new solutions to the Ukrainian agricultural market.