“We not only believe in bringing plant potential to life, we live it,” said Jorge Cisneros, Ph.D., research and development manager at the site. “For 50 years, the Vero Beach facility has supported this goal, making us a key agricultural research center for farmers in the United States and around the world.”
Syngenta invests over $1.2 billion each year in research worldwide. The Vero Beach facility has earned a reputation for combining the latest technologies with practical, hands-on field testing. Florida’s 12-month growing season allows scientists at the 240-acre agricultural research center to generate multiple seasons of field data per year. Researchers study a wide range of crops, including: sugar cane; corn; soybeans; cotton; small-grain cereals; citrus; vegetables; and turf and ornamentals.
“We help put pest management tools into farmers’ hands,” said Clark Lovelady, group leader for the insect control team at the Vero Beach location. “We accomplish this by providing quality research data and unique observations about the behavior of crop protection compounds through lab testing, greenhouse trials and field studies.”
Finding these answers as quickly as possible is important. The agricultural industry trade group CropLife America estimates that a new crop protection product can take 10 years and up to $256 million in development costs to advance from discovery to use in a grower’s fields.
“The Vero Beach Research Center is a key location within Syngenta where researchers can conduct studies in the lab, growth chambers, greenhouses and the field at the same time to fully characterize new products and determine how they will perform in commercial applications,” added Paul Kuhn, Ph.D., senior group leader for the disease control team at Vero Beach. “Also, we conduct the extensive research required by government regulatory agencies to ensure that new products will be effective for crop producers, as well as safe for humans, wildlife and the environment.”
Through the years, Syngenta scientists at Vero Beach have played major roles in the development of many key Syngenta brands and technologies. “Almost every herbicide that has been registered through Syngenta has come through our facility,” said Cheryl Dunne, group leader for the weed control team at Vero Beach.
In addition to optimal growing conditions, the stability and low turnover of the Research Center’s staff is a plus, added Jim Graham, Ph.D., a professor of soil microbiology at the University of Florida. “I’ve worked with colleagues who have been at the Vero Beach Center for a number of years, and have formed working relationships that are valuable to our research program as well as to the Florida citrus industry,” Graham said.
The Syngenta Vero Beach Research Center also values its role as a responsible corporate citizen, from its favorable impact on the local economy to its charitable contributions and involvement in the community.
“Not everything here in Vero Beach focuses on research,” Cisneros noted. “We provide training to colleagues, hold workshops and enjoy contributing to our community, from serving as science fair judges at the local school district to providing Christmas gifts to needy children in the area.”