Business & Economy
7:19 pm
Sat May 18, 2013

Syngenta Greenhouse: Think Cool Wear Shades

Syngenta Greenhouse Sunflowers
Sunflowers growing in Syngenta greenhouse in new RTP Advanced Crop Lab.
Credit Leoneda Inge

The state of North Carolina is heavy on Agriculture.  So it’s not odd to see greenhouses from the coast to the mountains.  But there’s a new greenhouse at Syngenta in Research Triangle Park that is said to be the only one of its kind in the world.  Dignitaries and leaders in biotechnology and agriculture were on-hand Friday for a tour of this state-of-the-art greenhouse and to celebrate the grand opening of Syngenta’s Advanced Crop Lab.

A Syngenta employee told me the future is so bright for the crop development company, you have to wear shades.  He wasn’t kidding.

“One thing, please, put your sun glasses on when we go in there.  It’s very bright, especially if we find a room with the lights on. It’s going to be very bright," said Pablo Hernandez.

Pablo Hernandez is a senior Research and Development Project Manager at Syngenta.  He helped design and build this greenhouse.

“What I like is we put together all the latest technology in this.  So there is no other greenhouse like this in the world.  So it’s the most advanced greenhouse like this in the world,” said Hernandez.

One thing that sets it apart is the high-tech, two layers of glass specially made in The Netherlands.  Scientists can grow multiple crops for multiple regions of the world and the temperature is just right. Today, visitors like John White with the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce got to see lots of corn, soy beans, sunflowers and sugar cane.

“Occasionally I get a sweet tooth, so you know the sugar cane was quite interesting.  I think to me, that was the highlight of the trip, the tour.  But no seriously, I think this is fantastic, to kind of get a sense of how you can adjust plant growth depending on what the needs are for each particular plant, that’s pretty impressive,”  said White.

Syngenta says it is trying to get in front of a huge challenge – feeding a world population of nine billion people.  Michiel van Lookeren Campagne is the head of Biotechnology at Syngenta.  He says farmers need to double their output in the next 40 years. 

“You have in real estate, you have the three most important things in real estate, location, location, location.  In agriculture, it is yield, yield, yield, yes.  That’s what we’re about here,” said van Lookeren Campagne.

North Carolina’s top political and agribusiness leaders joined Sygenta to celebrate the grand opening of its 72-million dollar Advanced Crop Lab.  Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler, U-S Senator Kay Hagan and Governor Pat McCrory agree the future of farming is growing more with less.

McCrory told the crowd he was glad the state’s unemployment rate finally dipped below nine-percent in April.  He sees the top industry in the state keeping that trend going. 

“But let me tell you, we got a long way to go. And I’m convinced that one of the ways we’re going to get out of this recession is agriculture, is going to help lead North Carolina out of this recession.  And part of it is because not only is its continued export opportunity, which Steve and I have talked about, but also because of its integration into biotech," said McCrory.

The state’s agriculture and agri-business industry is worth $77-billion  – up $5-billion dollars over the last year.