Wed Jan 8, 2014 10:39 AM CST

(Dow Jones) -- Monsanto Co.'s fiscal first-quarter earnings rose 8.6%, as stronger herbicide sales offset a decline in its core seed business.

The St. Louis-based company also forecast its biggest soybean-seed launch ever this year and teamed up with a rival agricultural technology provider to explore connections between the two companies' systems for computer-driven farming.

"All of our indicators continue to line up to deliver mid- to high-teens" growth in operating profit on a percentage basis this year, Hugh Grant, Monsanto's chief executive, said on a conference call Wednesday. "That's no small [thing] when there is more volatility and more ...

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