In agriculture, world-wide game-changers can come from anywhere and their experiences provide inspiration for us all. We value innovators at Plant Impact and our team took time this January to celebrate the people and companies who have inspired us with their innovation, creativity and dedication in improving crop yields. We nominated forward-thinking farmers keen to try new technology, ground-breaking agricultural scientists and the powerful impact of modern machinery.
Following a team vote, we found our top 5 Crop Yield Heroes:
Dr Norman Borlaug
Nominated by Matt Audley, KTP Post Doctoral Research Scientist
Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr Borlaug had to be on our list. Through his understanding of wheat physiology and genetics, his team developed high yielding, semi-dwarf varieties which made it possible for nations like Mexico, India and Pakistan to feed their people during the population expansion of the post-war era. Throughout his career Norman showed enormous dedication. He faced scepticism towards his methods but remained a staunch proponent of the need to embrace science and technology to fight poverty. He is credited with saving over a billion people from starvation.
Dr Peter Jennings
Nominated by Anuradha Bansal, Research & Technical Analyst
Dr. Peter Jennings and his team saved India from brink of famine and hunger by developing the miracle rice IR8 and November 2016 marked the 50th birthday of that discovery. It became popular with farmers because it had a short growth duration and a high-yield capacity related to its response to nitrogen fertilizer. The development of IR8 kickstarted the Green revolution in Asia by almost quadrupling rice production. India and Philippenes then became largest producers of rice owing to IR8 and its successor varieties. Scientists from Philippenes, India and US worked together in an unprecedented manner which was truly inspirational. Anu said “Who knows…I might not be here if India didn't get its green revolution thanks to IRRI. Dr Jennings and his team are my personal heroes because they changed my country and saved the lives of millions!”
Sir John Bennett Lawes
Nominated by Dr Amarjit Basra, R&D Program Manager, Cereals
Sir John Bennet Lawes is Amarjit’s hero and he is said to be the originator of the principles of crop nutrition. His originality in applying chemistry to agriculture, first on plants in pots and then on a field scale, and the effects of those chemical substances on plant growth laid the foundations of modern agricultural science.
Sir John Bennet Lawes owned the Rothamsted Estate in Harpenden, England, and established the first of a series of long-term yield experiments in 1843, which continue to this day on the same site. He initiated these with Joseph Henry Gilbert, a chemist and his scientific collaborator. In fact, an American visitor to Rothamsted was heard to say of the Broadbalk wheat experiment, "Americans have learnt more from this field than from any other agricultural experiment in the world." Amarjit says “Our Plant Impact HQ is on the Rothamsted Estate alongside our friends from Rothamsted Research and being surrounded by such agricultural heritage is truly inspirational.”
Nominated by Dave McLellan, Market Development Agronomist, EMEA
The modern Massey Ferguson company has roots in Canada back in 1857. Ingenuity and tough, reliable products made them instrumental in improving farm efficiency worldwide. Much later, in Belfast, Ireland, following WWII, Harry Ferguson was employed by the Irish Board of Agriculture to instruct farmers in ways to better use their tractors. He went on to revolutionise the farm machinery market. Further growth, development and mergers led to the birth of the Massey Ferguson company, eventually becoming the largest tractor company in the world and changing modern farming forever. Dave McLellan nominated Massey Ferguson, saying “I’ve nominated a company rather than one individual but the creativity and quality delivered by Massey Ferguson so consistently over so many years has made a real difference to yields for farmers globally. From a personal perspective, my first tractor was a Massey 135 so I guess I may be a little biased too.”
Allison Hilgemberg, innovative soybean grower, Ponta Grossa, Brazil
Nominated by Guilherme Carvalho, Marketing Manager, Brazil
Allison’s farm is in Paraná state, Brazil. He currently plants around 900 hectares of soy and drybeans. He is well known among the grower community in Brazil for his tenacity and his innovative approach. A great influencer, he continually pushes the boundaries and becomes an early adopter of new technologies to take his own yields higher and share his experiences with neighbouring growers. In the 2014/15 season Allison was the Brazilian CESB group champion of productivity for soybeans, harvesting 141 bags per hectare. This was an annual record but also the best level of soybean productivity per hectare since the beginning of this important regional competition.
Watch our Crop Yield Hero video