Seed World

Interview with Leonardo Costa, the new EMEA SAT Leader for Corteva

Leonardo Costa is the EMEA SAT Leader for Corteva Agriscience.

Since September 2023, Leonardo Costa has been the EMEA SAT Leader for Corteva Agriscience, and we would like to use this opportunity to introduce him, his passions, his thoughts on the challenges in the field of Seed Applied Technologies, and his take on the EU Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy.

Q: Leo, can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your background, and how did you end up in agriculture and the seed business.

I am Brazilian, born and raised in São Carlos, a small town, for the Brazilian standards, in the countryside of São Paulo state. Very often, during my childhood, I spent my holidays in a farm, but it was only during my university that I decided to focus on Agribusiness. Located in the heart of the sugar cane belt in Brazil, the University of São Paulo had several partnerships with many agri companies that were located around the area. It was through a traineeship process, right after finishing my graduation, that I joined Syngenta Seedcare Brazil, where I spent the first five years of my career. In 2018, I was invited to join the Global Syngenta Seedcare Team, in Basel – Switzerland. In 2021, I decided for a big professional change, and I joined Corteva. Since then, I have been helping the Seed Applied Technologies (SAT) team to become the number one partner for our customers. I hold a B.A. in Enterprise Economics and Controllership, a Master in Crop Science, and a Chef of Cuisine Diploma; this last one just as a hobby.

Q: Why is it so exciting to work for Corteva?

Corteva is a young company, coming from the merger of three very important and very dynamic entities, Dow, Dupont and DuPont Pioneer. Although, the three entities had different styles, Corteva embraced the formation of a new culture, carrying in our DNA the best of the three former legacies: the spirit, the curious mindset, and the innovation, building together a business that really focusses in enriching the lives of those who produce and those who consume, ensuring progress for generations to come. The fresh culture, the strong focus on our partners and the freedom that I have to drive our business, are the key points that excite me the most. As the cherry on top of the cake, our people are really special. We carry a strong passion for what we do, and I think, in the end, our farmers and partners, they can see that.

Q: What do you hope to achieve in the next five years?

For the next five years, my team and I have a very nice challenge to consolidate our presence in the market and become the preferred seed treatment partner for our customers. To help us to achieve this, we are building a strong strategy based on our four pillars: Go to Market, Portfolio, Services, and People. The idea is to keep focusing on the development of a wide range of solutions, targeting the main challenges from the farmers, while having our Center of Seed Applied Technologies (CSAT) as the backbone for our developments. On top of that, we want to keep providing the best-in-class services for our partners. We started with one main center in Toulouse, France, and now, we are already expanding it, on a smaller scale, to South Africa and Ukraine. Finally, having the best team in place to best support our customers. Our goal is to be always present.

Q: Can you tell us about what’s in the pipeline for future registrations and launches?

Innovation is one of our main pillars. For the long term, I am happy to say that we have a wide range of fungicides and insecticides, chemicals, and biologicals on the way. In the short term, we just got the first registration of our main insecticide, Lumiposa. It’s superior performance against wireworm and cutworm, whenever compared to the market standard, puts this product in a very unique position. For next year, we expect to launch another very disruptive solution: Ecovelex, a new sustainable, naturally derived bird repellent. I am proud to say that we heard our farmers and their main challenges, and we worked hard to bring this far reality into life. Once again, it is Corteva Seed Applied Technologies reinforcing our commitment to our farmers and partners.

Q: Which are the main challenges in the Seed Applied Technologies field at the moment?

The challenges that Seed Applied Technologies are facing today are the same that the entire industry has been facing since several years: the difficulties in bringing new solutions to our farmers and to maintain the current solutions available. In this space, Corteva SAT has been quite successful, due to the hard work we have been doing together with the authorities, institutes, associations and mostly, with our farmers, in proving that our solutions are safe to the people and to the environment. I believe that this is fundamental for the preservation of the agriculture in Europe.

Q: How do you feel about the EU’s Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy and the SUR, and what impact will these have on Corteva’s SAT business?

Actually, Seed Applied Technologies are quite aligned with the Green Deal objectives, as they involve treating the seed rather than applying in the field, they can help lower the environmental footprint of agriculture.

SAT helps growers reduce the environmental impact of their operations

  • The amount of chemical active ingredient applied to the soil is very small compared to broader foliar pesticides applications
  • More sustainable agriculture practices help meet the vision of the European Green Deal — to transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive economy

Innovations such as SAT can help farmers secure supplies and produce more with less amid threats to food security due to geopolitical challenges, climate change and societal expectations

SAT provides technical agronomic benefits for farmers

  • It fosters seedling establishment and early plant growth
  • It improves the ability of seeds to fight against external abiotic and biotic stresses

SAT inputs are cost effective

  • They provide improvement and cost savings compared with broader foliar pesticides applications

SAT products are easy to handle and apply

  • This results in reduced human exposure and need to handle chemicals and dispose of containers on farm
  • There is less exposure to diverse weather conditions unlike foliar spray applications

SAT provides the most targeted protection

  • Very effective against a broader range of plant parasites
  • Small amount of product, well applied, providing extended protection during the most important stage of plant development