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

Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesSurvey Provides Insights On Giant Ragweed In The Corn Belt
May 2, 2016
A new survey published in the journal Weed Science offers insights into the distribution and management of giant ragweed, a Read More
Truck dumping dry fertilizer
FertilizerFertilizer Logistics Q&A: Southern States’ Joe Wlodkoski
May 2, 2016
Joe Wlodkoski, Director of Agronomy Procurement, Fertilizer, Southern States Cooperative, is a 40-plus year fertilizer industry veteran. He is quite Read More
West Central Dome structure
FertilizerFertilizer Logistics 2016: All Clear, So Far
May 1, 2016
After a relatively hairy early start to the spring fertilizer movement season with flooding in Louisiana and St. Louis, things Read More
MicronutrientsCharah Add Three Warehouses For SUL4R-PLUS Fertilizer
April 28, 2016
Charah, Inc., a total solutions company providing unparalleled service and innovation for the coal-fired power generation industry, announced today that Read More
Trending Articles
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
HerbicidesHerbicide Resistance In Waterhemp Continues To Grow
April 22, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, waterhemp was virtually unknown to Illinois farmers. Today, the broadleaf weed blankets corn and soybean fields across Read More
Eric SfiligojBiotech Corn Drop More Economics Vs. Consumer Rejection
April 18, 2016
Since their introduction into the agricultural marketplace, biotech crops has steadily grown in acreage in the countries of the world Read More
Crop InputsBayer: 5 Reasons We Disagree With Maryland Neonic Ban
April 12, 2016
We’re disappointed that the Maryland legislature chose not to stand up for sound science and the rights of Maryland’s homeowners Read More
Corn
OpinionChallenging Global Economic Conditions Putting More Heat On U.S. Ag Retailers
April 7, 2016
There it is. That vague, slightly sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. Things are getting weird out there. Read More
Latest News
Patriot 4440 Sprayer close up
ManagementFlashing Back And Moving Forward On Spray Drift
May 3, 2016
The potential for pesticide drift remains an unavoidable feature of modern agriculture. Here, too, history repeats itself. “When Roundup debuted, Read More
Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesSurvey Provides Insights On Giant Ragweed In The Corn B…
May 2, 2016
A new survey published in the journal Weed Science offers insights into the distribution and management of giant ragweed, a Read More
Truck dumping dry fertilizer
FertilizerFertilizer Logistics Q&A: Southern States’ Joe Wlod…
May 2, 2016
Joe Wlodkoski, Director of Agronomy Procurement, Fertilizer, Southern States Cooperative, is a 40-plus year fertilizer industry veteran. He is quite Read More
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
West Central Dome structure
FertilizerFertilizer Logistics 2016: All Clear, So Far
May 1, 2016
After a relatively hairy early start to the spring fertilizer movement season with flooding in Louisiana and St. Louis, things Read More
BAICOR
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Utah Specialty Fertilizer Company
April 28, 2016
BRANDT, a leading agriculture retailer and manufacturer of specialty ag products, has acquired a majority interest in BAICOR, L.C. BAICOR, Read More
Soybean field
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Adds Vice President Of Business…
April 28, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences has announced the addition of Marc Treurniet to the plant health and nutrition company’s management team. Treurniet Read More
ManagementBiotech Crops Developments and Millennials
April 28, 2016
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf talk about the latest activities in biotech crops and a major shift in the Read More
Industry NewsNachurs-Alpine, Pathway Biologic Extend Marketing Agree…
April 28, 2016
Nachurs-Alpine Solutions (Marion, OH) and Pathway Biologic (Plant City, FL) announce an extension to their exclusive marketing agreement specific to Read More
MicronutrientsCharah Add Three Warehouses For SUL4R-PLUS Fertilizer
April 28, 2016
Charah, Inc., a total solutions company providing unparalleled service and innovation for the coal-fired power generation industry, announced today that Read More
Spenser Forgey, Yahama Fortix
FungicidesIndiana Farmer Wins Arysta LifeScience FORTIX Fungicide…
April 28, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently presented Spenser Forgey, a grower from Young America, IN, with a new 2016 Yamaha Grizzly Read More
Corn Field
HerbicidesNew Wilbur‐Ellis Herbicide Targets Volunteer Corn
April 28, 2016
Wilbur‐Ellis Co., a recognized leader in marketing and distribution of crop protection products, as well as precision agriculture technology, has Read More
StewardshipNRCS To Help Farmers Measure Conservation Impacts On Wa…
April 27, 2016
The USDA has announced the availability of $2 million to help farmers install edge-of-field stations that monitor water quality as Read More
Planter in Iowa
EquipmentTop 10 Twitter Pics For #Plant16
April 27, 2016
Despite some wet weather in parts of the Midwest, growers and ag retailers are working feverishly to plant this year’s Read More
HerbicidesHELM AGRO Launches New HELM Sulfentrazone 4F Herbicide
April 26, 2016
HELM AGRO US, Inc. has announced the federal Section 3 registration of its new HELM Sulfentrazone 4F herbicide. Classified as a Read More
Valley Irrigation Valley 8000 series on corn
EquipmentValley Irrigation Receives Environmental Stewardship Ho…
April 26, 2016
Valley Irrigation has been recognized as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site by the Groundwater Foundation. The Groundwater Guardian Green Site Read More
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
HerbicidesHerbicide Resistance In Waterhemp Continues To Grow
April 22, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, waterhemp was virtually unknown to Illinois farmers. Today, the broadleaf weed blankets corn and soybean fields across Read More