In my last post, China and the Sea of Circles, I talked about my whirlwind trip to China, visiting Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou for speaking engagements and taking in all the progressive changes that are moving the country toward a more sustainable future. I also had a chance to return to the Amway Botanical Research Center (ABRC) in Wuxi to learn about the latest research updates, including one that had me thinking about my early days as a young scientist.
All signs point to a bright future
As I toured the ABRC, I was impressed by the high level of scientific engagement. But just as important, arguably more so, I was impressed by the passion with which the scientists approached their work. At every turn, I saw best practices at work and the kind of innovative thinking needed for a discovery mindset. Yes, we are already leaders in the area of phytonutrient research, but the ABRC and its scientists are sure to solidify this leadership role. And, it bodes well for a bright future.
Back to the future
During my visit, one young scientist told me about how they naturally control insects at the research center. We use Bacillus thuringienesis, she explained. This naturally occurring bacteria produces protein that is toxic to caterpillars and other bugs that can wreak havoc on crops.
I couldn’t help but smile. This same bacteria was the basis for a natural pest management product that Nutrilite pioneered over 50 years ago in the United States. We called it BIOTROL and sold it to farmers throughout Southern California. It was quite the success, so it’s no surprise the Wuxi team have embraced it. But where this gets really interesting is this young scientist didn’t know that BIOTROL was also the first project I worked on when I joined the company as a young scientist and newly minted Ph.D.
Another déjà vu moment was when the researchers talked about adding microbes to compost to improve its effectiveness. We also did this decades ago. I can still remember the huge compost maker form the liquid compost that we put on the fields. Although the decades have come and gone, our approach to natural pest management has stood the test of time, and just gets stronger thanks to the work being carried out by our dedicated scientists at the ABRC as well as at our other research facilities.
Sharing great ideas for better farming
The folks at our farming facilities are known for their collaboration, sharing new ideas, lessons learned, and general eagerness to transfer knowledge around the globe, all in an effort to improve our natural farming practices. During this trip, I learned more about one such effort that is sure to raise the bar in Wuxi, thanks in large part to Darwin Hintz, Technology Manager at Trout Lake Farms over 5,800 miles away.
You would be hard-pressed to find a more passionate champion of using technology to improve farming practices than Darwin. He has a particular enthusiasm for high-tech GPS tractors and was instrumental in bringing the precision of real-time satellite navigation techniques to the Nutrilite Global Agribusiness Operations. The improvements in farming efficiencies and cost savings are too good not to share. That’s just what Darwin did, helping get GPS tractors up and running at the ABRC in Wuxi. I love seeing this type of collaboration between our facilities, each helping to make the other even better.
From Wuxi to Trout Lake
After my trip to China, I headed to Trout Lake Farms in Washington state for Amway North America Farm Day. I was able to catch up with Darwin and others as well as help welcome visiting tour groups eager to enjoy the outdoors and learn more about our sustainable farming practices with a high-tech twist.
Lots of exciting projects are in the works. Till next time!
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