AgraQuest: Low-Chem Strategy

The path forward for biopesticides has been a long and difficult one in agriculture. For decades, manufacturers have worked to develop and market these naturally-derived compounds as stand-alone products that would act as pure replacements for traditional pesticide products.

Unfortunately, because of the historical limitations of efficacy and longevity, biopesticides have rarely competed well toe-to-toe with traditional pesticide products in conventional cropping systems. Over the years, these products have been relegated to niche organic markets, where a loyal but limited following could be achieved.

In recent years, driven by the search for ways to manage resistance, gain more flexibility at harvest time, and squeeze every bit of yield out of every field, a new concept is being put forward with promising success: Blending conventional and biopesticides to create solutions that deliver lower environmental impact, improved worker safety, and enhanced effectiveness.

Shifting the focus of biopesticides from stand-alone to complementary is the main path that AgraQuest, a Davis, CA-based biopesticide research and development company, has been traveling in recent years.

Defining ‘Low-Chem’

Founded in 1995, AgraQuest has developed and tested a wide range of biopesticide compounds over the years. This has produced a wealth of research data that’s driven this new paradigm for its core compounds and future pipeline. The company defines its partnering strategy as “low-chem solutions.”

A viable low-chem solution benefits the crop production system one of two ways. It reduces the amount of regulated pesticide residues or negative environmental profile without reducing the efficacy or yield, either by replacing the traditional pesticide or by allowing a significant rate reduction. Or, used as a supplement, it serves to increase the efficacy and/or yield without adding to the chemical load.

While AgraQuest through its Agrochemicals division continues to develop its biopesticides both as stand-alone products and in synergistic “low chem” solutions in conventional agriculture, Ashish Malik, senior vice president of global marketing for AgraQuest, explains that the company’s Bioinnovations Division is “keenly focused on extending the use of its unique intellectual property in markets that are adjacent to agriculture, such as animal nutrition, turf and ornamentals, and home and garden.”

The company estimates that overall market demand, driven by consumer demand and pressure from regulators and food processors to reduce or eliminate residues, will grow to between $5 billion and $10 billion by 2017. It also estimates that about 55% of its growth as a company will be derived from expanded use of its current products. The balance of its growth will come from new and future pipeline products and the Bioinnovations division by 2013.

AgraQuest took a significant leap forward this year when it signed a global distribution agreement with BASF for its Serenade biofungicide product. BASF will market Serenade in numerous geographies, starting in Latin America and then expanding into Europe and Asia-Pacific. Serenade provides fungal control by breaking down the cell membrane of target fungi. It also stops the spores of the pathogen from germinating, disrupts their growth, and prevents them from attaching to plant leaves.

Philip Lane, head of global fungicide research for BASF, recalls that grower meetings led to the recognition of the potential fit for a product like Serenade. “A grower talked about the difficulty of using traditional products for crops like tomatoes that require successive harvests,” says Lane. “The required preharvest intervals made him feel very exposed to potential loss of yield, investment, and income.”

There also were the multiple issues of minimizing pesticide runoff and meeting processor residue limits. All this led to the exploration of biopesticides to address this, Lane explains. “We became award of Serenade and what could it do,” he says.

Finding Positives

Two properties of Serenade that are limitations for most biopesticides in commercial production — quick degradation and non-relevant residues — could be turned into a benefit if it became a supplement to a traditional fungicide. Greenhouse trials were conducted in 2007 and full-scale field trials in 2008 and 2009.

“We found that in some cases the activity of Seren­ade alone was not on a comparative level with traditional chemistries, but integrated with traditional BASF fungicides, we could extend the season of control to the harvest period,” says Lane. “It’s taken a lot of perseverance and time to get the right combination of products, but we’ve had enough success to step in and sign the agreement.”
“Recently we have received a lot of interest from large agriculture partners in the row crop markets, and we have a significant number of new actives out in field trials in 2010,” says Marcus Meadows-Smith, CEO of AgraQuest. “We’re positioned to really accelerate our business both in the U.S. and globally.”

Next year’s US-based research will come on the heels of the successful launch of Ballad Plus fungicide for the soybean market. As a stand-alone product, it is the only fungicide listed for organic use that controls Asian soybean rust. The usage of Ballad Plus in conjunction with strobilurin products has shown synergies regarding improved control, says Meadows-Smith.

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories

Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsFortenza Insecticide Seed Treatment Receives EPA Registration
May 25, 2017
Fortenza seed treatment insecticide from Syngenta has received registration approval from the U.S. EPA for use on corn and cotton Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Seed/BiotechKansas State University Researchers Find New Pathogens in Soybean Seeds
May 24, 2017
A single seed seems so simple. Put it in the ground, give it some care, and you’ve soon grown food. Read More
Soybean Field
HerbicidesNew Dicamba Herbicide Premix Coming Soon from Syngenta
May 24, 2017
Syngenta has announced the name of its new herbicide featuring the active ingredients of S-metolachlor and dicamba. Upon registration by Read More
FungicidesSyngenta Launches New Seed Treatment Fungicide
May 22, 2017
Syngenta has announced the launch of PLENARIS seed treatment fungicide for the control of downy mildew in sunflower. PLENARIS contains Read More
Trending Articles
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Agriculture
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
EquipmentSpray Application: A Nozzle Renaissance
May 2, 2017
If you had asked four-decade ag veteran Mark Bartel, President of Wilger Inc., just a few years ago what lay Read More
ManagementWashington Update, Dow-DuPont Earnings, and the Passing of an AGCO Legend
April 27, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the latest Beltway news, crop protection company 1st quarter numbers, and the Read More
Crop InputsFlying Under the Radar No More, FMC Goes Big
April 13, 2017
Describing FMC as “under the radar,” admittedly, is probably a stretch. But in a snap of the fingers, FMC upped Read More
Young Corn Plants
Crop NutritionStill Hunting Yields
April 1, 2017
There’s no denying it — the agricultural marketplace today is undergoing a fundamental shift in fortunes. Not too many years Read More
Latest News
ManagementTrip Report, PSM R.I.P, and Ag’s Reaction to Federal Bu…
May 25, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about their recent travels, the end for Process Safety Management (PSM), and how Read More
Corn soil
LegislationARA Member Testifies Before Senate Ag Committee
May 25, 2017
Agricultural retailers stand on the front-lines of the American economy. As trusted advisors to America’s farmers, ag retailers are uniquely Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsFortenza Insecticide Seed Treatment Receives EPA Regist…
May 25, 2017
Fortenza seed treatment insecticide from Syngenta has received registration approval from the U.S. EPA for use on corn and cotton Read More
ManagementFarm Market iD’s Agriculture Database Now Covers More T…
May 25, 2017
Farm Market iD, farmmarketid.com, has announced the release of its 2017 Annual Update of its farm and land database. The Read More
Food IT Fork-to-Farm
Precision AgThe Mixing Bowl Event Connects Technology, Food, and Ag…
May 24, 2017
For the fourth consecutive year, The Mixing Bowl presents FOOD IT, under the theme “Fork to Farm.” Action-oriented entrepreneurs, industry Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Seed/BiotechKansas State University Researchers Find New Pathogens …
May 24, 2017
A single seed seems so simple. Put it in the ground, give it some care, and you’ve soon grown food. Read More
Soybean Field
HerbicidesNew Dicamba Herbicide Premix Coming Soon from Syngenta
May 24, 2017
Syngenta has announced the name of its new herbicide featuring the active ingredients of S-metolachlor and dicamba. Upon registration by Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
FungicidesSyngenta Launches New Seed Treatment Fungicide
May 22, 2017
Syngenta has announced the launch of PLENARIS seed treatment fungicide for the control of downy mildew in sunflower. PLENARIS contains Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsMonsanto’s First HPPD Herbicide Garners EPA Appro…
May 19, 2017
Monsanto announced today that EPA has federally approved Harness MAX Herbicide, the first herbicide in the Monsanto portfolio to provide Read More
ManagementPrecision Planting Deal, China Developments, and Enviro…
May 18, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the latest news on John Deere’s now dead deal for Precision Planting, China’s Read More
Soybean aphid leaf
InsecticidesMulti-state Research Reveals IPM Best Option for Treatm…
May 17, 2017
About 89.5 million acres of soybeans will be planted across the U.S. in 2017 — a record high, according to Read More
GROWMARK-2017-Interns
CropLife 100GROWMARK Names 2017 Summer Interns
May 16, 2017
Forty-two college students are exploring agricultural career opportunities this summer as GROWMARK interns. They are working at FS member cooperatives Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Ag…
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
FertilizerBoth Wet and Dry Conditions Threaten Nitrogen Loss
May 15, 2017
The weather is notoriously unpredictable, leading to challenges for planting, harvesting and applying the nitrogen (N) your corn crop needs. Read More
farmer Kip Tom
Precision AgAg Tech: On the Cusp of Something Big?
May 15, 2017
The investment and ag-tech sectors’ continuing courtship of agriculture, smoldering for three or four years now, was well in evidence at Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
ManagementOpinion: Shaking Your Perspective in Ag Retail
May 12, 2017
Some of you I’m sure have encountered our recently retired salesman extraordinaire, Dan Bellanger. He worked in the industry for Read More