Discovering Future Ag Products with Rosana Serikawa

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Episode Transcription:

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: This episode of the WSU Wheat Beat podcast was recorded on March 22, 2019, during the WSU Plant Science Symposium. The theme of the symposium was foundations for the future, embracing new agricultural technologies. As part of the program, five innovative researchers from across the U.S. and the world agreed to speak about their research. All five researchers also agreed to sit down with me for a few minutes to explain their work, and how it may relate to wheat growers in Eastern Washington.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Welcome back to our special series from the 2019 WSU Plant Science Symposium. My guest today is Rosana Serikawa. Rosana is originally from Brazil. She earned her B.S. degree in agronomic engineering in Brazil. Her M.S. degree in entomology is from the University of Nebraska. And she finished her Ph.D. in entomology at the University of Florida. She started at DuPont Brazil, now Corteva Agriscience, as a research scientist in 2011, where she was responsible for challenging insecticide and nematicides products in development by trying to figure out their flaws and strengths before sending the products out to the field scientists throughout Latin America. She currently leads the field scientists in the US, North and West, and acts as the interface between what is going on in the field and what is being developed. Hello, Rosana.

Rosana Serikawa: Hello, Drew.

Drew Lyon: So tell us, who is Corteva, this new company that’s on the horizon, or actually not on the horizon, it’s here, isn’t it?

Rosana Serikawa: Yeah. So Corteva’s actually the merge of pretty much three companies. That is the Dupont Crop Protection, Dupont Pioneer, and Dow AgroSciences.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Rosana Serikawa: So Dow AgroSciences will be spinning off into Corteva in April 1st. And June 1st, that’s when we’re going to be spinning out into our own company.

Drew Lyon: Okay. And so, merging products from different companies and getting a whole new portfolio, things that you offer.

Rosana Serikawa:  Yeah.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Rosana Serikawa: Yes. We’re getting a very good portfolio. And we’re going to be able to now integrate the seeds to seed treatment and the crop protection.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So that must be an exciting time to be involved in a company like that.

Rosana Serikawa: It is. It’s very challenging but, at the same time, very exciting.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So I think one of the reasons these companies are merging is because new products are becoming more difficult to bring to the marketplace. So we found all the easy stuff. The new stuff’s getting a little more expensive. So just what is the cost of developing a new pesticide?

Rosana Serikawa: So according to crop life, in 2014, the cost of bringing a product into the market was around $298 million.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Rosana Serikawa: But internal estimates, with the type of regulations that are required right now, we believe that is around $348 million for 2019.

Drew Lyon: So that might explain why it’s really difficult for smaller companies to get into this field because it just costs so much.

Rosana Serikawa: Yeah. So a lot of companies, as you can see in the news, they are merging together or they are buying smaller companies to get more power on the development of new products.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So as I listened to your talk today, you talked about, what, something like 3,500 products get narrowed down to one that takes 7 to 12 years to do that. How does a company prioritize which products they bring to market? So as you’re winnowing that 3,500 down to one, what are you looking for in that new product to decide that you want to keep moving forward with it?

Rosana Serikawa: So a lot of things are taken to considerations. We try to look forward in 10 years. So what is going to happen in 10 years? So we try to predict everything that is out there. So right now, we have a lot of products for caterpillars, so as BT. So we know that we have a lot of products for caterpillars. Well, you know, if it’s a remote infection. But so what’s the next? So we think what could be happening in 10 years. So right now, probably we’re starting to develop products for, you know, stink bugs and soybeans because with the BT, we’re covered. But what is not covered in there?

Drew Lyon: Okay. So you really have to have a bit of a crystal ball trying to figure out that far out what the best problems might be, be the insects, disease, or weeds.

Rosana Serikawa: Yeah. We do a lot of marketing assessments. We talk with a lot of specialties. We do models to try to find out, even like resistance. So how long it would take to get resistance, five, 10 years. So we get data and we develop models to try to understand what will happen in 10 years. So that’s how we prioritize our products. And, you know, we know that future, probably the quantity of water will be limited. So we’re also thinking developing products that are, you know, water stress resistance.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So here in Eastern Washington, wheat is kind of king. If you look across the country, it’s corn and soybeans that are king. So as a company, you have to look at those different markets. But what do you understand the needs or how does Corteva go about trying to understand the needs of the wheat market say in comparison to the corn and soybean market?

Rosana Serikawa: So that’s a lot of things. We do market assessments. We talk with growers. You know, we have the field scientists, including one of my field scientists. He was ex-faculty from here, Joe Yenish.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Rosana Serikawa: So he talks a lot of the growers and consumers and see what their needs are. And looking to the needs, they also see, okay, so we need to develop product for this or if they have some issues. Oh, we have a product that could control these type of issues. And so, we try to address that into our research and to get products developed to that specific issue.

Drew Lyon: Do you try to develop products specifically for wheat or is it you’re looking for it in corn and soybeans and then you happen to notice that it works in wheat, or how is wheat, I guess, prioritized among the major crops in the US?

Rosana Serikawa: Yeah. The major research was on soybean and corn. But wheat is becoming very big into our company as well, even especially of our merge.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Rosana Serikawa: So we have several products that are specifically developed for the wheat.

Drew Lyon: Okay. Joe Yenish, by the way, was in my position before I came here. So you got a good hire there.

Rosana Serikawa: That’s great.

Drew Lyon: So what are some of the implications of your work you think for wheat growers here in Eastern Washington? What might they be seeing coming along down the line or how what you do affects what they do?

Rosana Serikawa: So we’re looking a lot on weeds right now. So weeds for the wheat. So that’s one our focus. But we do have some seed-applied technology coming for wireworms.

Drew Lyon: Okay. That’s a big issue.

Rosana Serikawa: Yeah. So we’re developing new tools to address some of the issues that are coming up.

Drew Lyon: Okay. Very good. Well, thank you very much for taking some time while coming here to speak at the WSU Plant Science Symposium to also come here and talk to me on the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. Thank you very much.

Rosana Serikawa: Thank you so much. It was my pleasure.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Thanks for joining us and listening to the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. If you like what you hear don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app. If you have questions or topics, you’d like to hear on future episodes please email me at drew.lyon That’s ( You can find us online at and on Facebook and Twitter @WSUSmallGrains. The WSU Wheat Beat podcast is a production of CAHNRS Communications and the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. I’m Drew Lyon, we’ll see you next time.

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