Contributing to the Future

Washington Student awarded Syngenta potato scholarship

Published in the March 2012 Issue Published online: Mar 05, 2012
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Stephanie George, Sygenta potato scholarship winnerContinuing its investment in the future of agriculture, Syngenta recognizes Stephanie George, a senior at East Valley High School, Moxee, Wash., as the 2011 recipient of the $5,000 Syngenta Potato Scholarship. George, who is a member of 4-H, was recognized at the Potato Expo in Orlando, Fla., January 4-6.

The $5,000 scholarship honors students pursuing careers in agriculture in key potato-growing states. Judges for the competition were Eric Tedford and Coby Long of Syngenta, Bill Schaefer of Spudman magazine, David Fraser with the United States Potato Board, Hollee Alexander with the National Potato Council and Tyler J. Baum of Potato Grower magazine.

"Stephanie's determination to be a part of agriculture's future problem-solvers as a young woman is refreshing," said Steve Gomme, Syngenta crop portfolio lead for potatoes. "With her participation in 4-H and her far-reaching goals, Stephanie will be an asset to the industry in the years to come. Syngenta would like to wish her the best of luck in her endeavors."

George plans to major in science when she begins her college career.

Scholarships are just one of the ways Syngenta invests in the future of agriculture. Not only does Syngenta support the next generation of potato leaders, the company also invests in today's industry leaders by sponsoring the Potato Industry Leadership Institute. The institute is comprised of innovators who are committed to driving agricultural advancements and supporting the potato industry.

Another way Syngenta contributes to the future of agriculture is through its dedication to research and development. Syngenta spends more than $2.5 million per day on research and development and employs nearly 5,000 in R&D worldwide. This science-based foundation helps contribute to the broad portfolio of top-quality products that Syngenta offers to potato growers, including CruiserMaxx Potato insecticide/fungicide combination, Endigo ZC and Platinum insecticides, Quadris, Ridomil Gold and Revus Top fungicides, and Boundary and Reglone herbicides.

"Syngenta invests in the development of not only superior products but also bright young leaders like Stephanie," said Gomme. "We're thrilled to be able to contribute to her education and see the great things she'll continue to accomplish."

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Scholarship-Winning Essay

In order to maximize crop production by 2050, the potato industry and the agricultural industry as a whole will need increasingly efficient crop varieties that will maximize yield per acre without increased water demand. We can accomplish this through research to improve seed stock, by continually selecting those plants that produce the highest crop yield, quality and efficiency. Over time, crops will continue to become more and more efficient because the less efficient varieties will be discarded. Also, research will continue to be done on genetically enhancing crops by crossing them with more efficient varieties and those that use less water. More efficient water application techniques will continue to be developed, which will offer more precise delivery to the plants, with less off-target application that wastes the resource. Other new developments will allow producers to limit evaporative losses and apply more accurate amounts of water, based on the actual need of the plants as their stage of growth and climatic conditions vary. By growing plants that are more efficient and yield more per acre, there would be less need for expanded cropland. This would help to protect the environment, including diverse ecosystems and the habitats of endangered species. Marginal land is not optimal for producing efficient crops, and its development would only hinder the mission to grow more efficient crops. It would be better for the environment to leave marginal land undeveloped, for habitat and other non-crop uses. As we move toward more efficient and higher-yielding crops, it's also important to insure a broad genetic base to avoid future crop failure due to disease outbreaks. For example, the potato industry should continue to incorporate genetics from different parts of the world to strengthen the genetic makeup of potatoes for increased disease resistance. Technology should also continue to be improved so that we are able to monitor the world's food supply to prevent contaminants from causing illness among consumers. In order to create crops that are sustainable as well as efficient, an effective crop rotation program is necessary. Different crops can be promoted that could better fit farmers' and consumers' needs. For example, my family grows grass hay, but through research, we discovered Teff Grass, which is a grain but can be harvested as hay. It has a high yield and has a different physiology than grass hay, so its use in a crop rotation will result in healthier and better-yielding grass hay. Not only this, but Teff Grass is a crop that fits our needs because it is a fine hay that is very high in protein, so it is healthy for the horses and they like eating it. It is also great for horses that have foundered and can't eat other types of hay. By 2050, agricultural production will have to feed twice as many people and do so without stressing the environment and further exhausting water resources. By continuing research, selecting higher yielding plants and implementing more efficient farming practices, I believe that the agriculture industry will successfully meet the demands of consumers in the years to come.