Research & Development: The Secret Of Our Success

Developing new products is time-consuming and expensive. That’s because every new product has to both safely and effectively control weeds, insects or diseases.


It can take 11 years and cost over € 250 million to turn an interesting molecule into a product that farmers can use. What’s more, there are no guarantees. A potential product can fail at any point along the way. In our labs, this is known as the 1:100,000 rule . We have to screen over 140,000 potential molecules to find one that works.

But this is our business. We provide farmers with a steady stream of the latest and most effective tools to help them maximize yields on limited farmland. Over time, nature can outwit even our smartest products. That’s why we have to spend so much time and energy looking for new scientific discoveries. Our track record in bringing new tools to the market speaks for itself. We have one of the youngest product portfolios in the crop protection industry, with novel chemistry accounting for almost 30 percent of our sales.

We’re constantly looking for new active ingredients that can control crop pests in unique ways. This comprehensive approach to research allows us to offer growers a complete toolkit of different but complementary approaches to pest control. But active ingredients are only half of the story. We can also rely on the diverse nature of BASF’s chemical activities to develop innovative formulations and complementary products that enhance the effectiveness, safety and convenience of our crop protection products.

We spend around 10 percent of our crop protection sales – over € 400 million – on research every year. Our scientists use the latest technologies and analytical techniques such as computer-based molecular modelling, genetic profiling and mass spectrometry. And if our scientists can’t find what they need, they design and build it themselves.

Indeed, our global teams of scientists – molecular biologists, agronomists, engineers and chemists – share their knowledge and expertise with each other every day. As a result, we’ve been able to automate many routine research activities. This means our scientists have time to do what they’re best at designing and developing products, programs and, of course, active ingredients.

The research and development process does not stop when the product reaches our customers. The knowledgeable and well-practiced hands of farmers give our products the ultimate test. That’s why we are constantly talking to farmers to hear about their opinions and experiences with our products. These messages from the farmers are then feedback to our scientists, so that we can both improve existing products and develop new ones, so that innovative, effective solutions remain the core of our business for a long time to come.

Research and development process


Research areas

We are constantly working on new ideas for making crop protection even more sustainable, effective and efficient. Learn more about our research on product innovation and formulation.