A “Clark Kent” of Agriculture Innovation

Recently, when I was invited to Germany (on my vacation time – #sponsoredtravel) to interact with a diverse group of people from science, agriculture, health and wellness and journalism as part of #FutureFarming, I shared that there was so much exciting information and learning that it would likely result in many blog posts. Here is another one inspired by my experiences. I was not asked to write these nor was I paid to share. These are my own thoughts and descriptions based on what I experienced. I love science. I love learning, and I love helping people. These blogs are one of my ways of combining these things.

Get ready for the movie analogies on this one! Lois Lane (and the world) could have sort of cared less about Clark Kent, but she/they were all about Superman. Isn’t this the case for most people- the seemingly nerdy, boring stuff does not always capture attention. It’s the cape wearing, handsome crime fighter that captivates.

Can you have one without the other?

I think not…but here’s the thing. It’s not like you’ll ever have a reality television show where you watch people sitting around thinking, or scientists in a lab experimenting (Big Bang Theory doesn’t count 😉 ), or technology gurus building/creating. BUT…things we love and “can’t live without” come from these very activities. Like cars with built-in GPS, smart phones, airplanes, vacuum cleaners  – you get the point. But…how does this great stuff come to be?

You’ll need another visual for context in terms of the volume of important samples we saw on this particular experience:  In the closing scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark (#spoileralert), there’s a powerful image of a crate being sent into a massive warehouse. The magnitude of treasures and the implications of what could be found in this warehouse made the audience (ok, me) smile with excitement and understanding.  This is the sentiment that popped into my head as we were invited into the Bayer Substance Library in terms of sheer volume. Picture yourself in a place where there is row after row after row, item after item (millions, actually), but unlike the warehouse in the movie, this particular library was organized in the most impressive, meticulous order. It had a system to retrieve what a scientist might need in an incredibly efficient and organized way to actually get to the good stuff within minutes or hours.  Items were then relocated based on usage for future additional efficiency in retrieval for scientists. Unbelievably efficient, massive amounts of substantive work going on…But if you missed the meaning of what we were looking at, you’d have only seen Clark Kent, not seeing past the glasses to also see Superman. So to speak.  Let’s be honest. Staring at rows of samples isn’t exactly stimulating. UNLESS you can see past the suit and glasses and understand what you are actually looking at. Thanks to our scientist guide for the day, you could see the cape peeking out from the suit. Pretty cool.

We were welcomed into a place that housed materials that have been, are, and will continue to be part of some of the work of innovation and finding new and better ways of doing things, with the intent of ultimately leading to a (continued) safe, affordable, and abundant food supply for us.

Thinking. Innovating. Collaborating. Inspiring. If only a reality show could capture even some of the amazing work happening every day around the world…

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to look at the favorite things you use (and eat) every day, and marvel at the thinking, brains, organization, and creativity behind them.

A peek behind the curtain – a poster explaining a bit more about what we learned/saw
Yes, robots are involved. Love that.
Even the temperature matters. So much thought and work behind what we actually see. True here and also in many other areas of life!


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