Monsanto held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday to open 36 new greenhouses at its Chesterfield Research Center.
The celebration of the state-of-the-art greenhouses was held against the backdrop of last month's announcement that Bayer will buy Monsanto in a $66 billion deal.
Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant told the crowd, made up of mostly employees and a few members of the media, that Bayer's acquisition is an opportunity.
“It’s one that will accelerate innovation in agriculture," Grant said, "and when we combine the technology horsepower of the two companies, I have a feeling that these greenhouses are going to be, they’re going to be really, really busy."
Bayer officials have said the Chesterfield Research Center will house the merged companies' global seeds and traits division, and Monsanto's headquarters in Creve Coeur will become the new North American headquarters.
Monsanto's Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley demonstrated how high-tech the greenhouses are, turning on the lights and fans with a laptop.
"I just want you to know what this means is we’re going to be able to grow more crops faster, we’re going to be able to deliver those products to farmers even faster, and that’s what this is all about," he said.
The greenhouse structure is 105,000 square feet, with 13 open greenhouses and 23 bench-format greenhouses. They allow for a very controlled research, with better air-control over both temperature and humidity.
The greenhouses are part of a $400 million expansion announced in 2013. A new research building is expected to be completed in June. About 1,100 employees work at the facility currently. When the new building is done, there will be room for about 2,000.
St. Louis Public Radio's Carolina Hidalgo toured the Chesterfield facilities on Friday: