Life science company Bayer has invested US$16.7m in a new cotton breeding and research facility in Texas, US, that will focus on drought-resistant varieties and traits for limited-input situations.

The Lubbock Breeding and Trait Development Station will benefit cotton growers across the Southwest by producing genetically-modified varieties and developing native traits.

The opening of the facility, which began operating in October last year, is being celebrated by researchers preparing to plant the facility's first research crop. The facility builds on the Bayer history of developing premium quality varieties, including its FiberMax and Stoneville brands. To complement the knowledge and skill of Southwest cotton growers.

"Bayer has led the way in cotton advancements for the Southwest since three employees opened our first facility in 1998," says Monty Christian, Bayer vice president for US Cotton operations. "Since that modest start, Bayer has added two separate breeding stations, a seed processing plant, a quality assurance lab, a seed warehousing facility, and a state-of-the art research and development lab. We employ about 120 people in the Lubbock area – and we're adding 25 more with this breeding and trait development station."

The development station was part of Bayer's commitment to invest nearly $1bn in the US between 2013-2016 in new facilities and capital expansion to complement the approximate $1bn invested globally in research and development annually. The breeding and research focus at the facility is on varieties and traits that clear agronomic hurdles and enhance both efficiency and profitability for growers who are working to provide food, feed, fibre and renewable raw materials globally, the company says.

In addition to the Lubbock station, Bayer built a cotton breeding station in Georgia and multi-crop research and development facilities in Arkansas and Illinois in 2016.

"For growers and for Bayer, it is important to continue expanding our seeds business through research and development, and this facility will bring together significant scientific and technology resources to support the advancement of the agricultural industry, specifically for cotton seed trait and plant research," adds Mike Gilbert, vice president and head of global breeding & trait development for Bayer.

The Breeding and Trait Development Station will employ around 25 people who will work with a larger global team to promote advanced research on genetics, chemistry, and traits to provide holistic agricultural solutions to customers around the world. In addition to the full-time employees, many area residents will be hired each year to assist with planting and harvesting activities.