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

HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Delivers Two New Winter Wheat Varieties To Eastern Corn Belt
August 6, 2014
Adding to its portfolio of AgriPro brand wheat varieties, Syngenta introduces SY 007 and SY 474 soft red winter wheat varieties. Read More
Aerial view of the West Fertilizer explosion site
FertilizerFertilizer Companies Blame City For West, TX, Explosion
August 6, 2014
El Dorado Chemical Co. and CF Industries contend the city failed to properly train the first responders and had insufficient protocols in place to battle the April 17, 2013, blaze at West Fertilizer Co. that triggered the explosion. Read More
FungicidesResearchers Target Soybean Disease With Genetic Resistance Study
August 6, 2014
University of Illinois researchers will share new information on controlling sudden death syndrome through genetic resistance at this year's Agronomy Day. Read More

Trending Articles

EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More

Latest News

FungicidesVerdesian Links Up With Mitsui, Hokusan
August 20, 2014
Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co., announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley. Read More
SprayersUniversity Of Illinois Introduces New Spray App
August 18, 2014
University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app for making sprayer-related calculations. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or Spray Calc, Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Names New Manager Of Federal Government Relati…
August 18, 2014
Laura Wood Peterson has joined Syngenta as manager of federal government relations, based in Washington, DC. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science …
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Factory Layoffs
August 18, 2014
Deere & Co. has announced it will reduce the size of its manufacturing workforce at some agricultural equipment factories in response to current market demand for its products. Read More
HerbicidesNew DuPont Afforia Herbicide Gives Crops A Clean Start
August 18, 2014
DuPont Afforia is a preplant herbicide for soybeans and other field crops that provides excellent burndown and residual control of many challenging weeds, such as marestail and waterhemp. Read More
Equipment21 Products Showcased At MAGIE 2014
August 18, 2014
The annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition is upon us. Here is CropLife IRON's look at some of the products visitors can expect to see at this week's event. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Seeks Nominations For 2014 Operator Of The Year
August 15, 2014
Ag retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to nominate their best applicators. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
ManagementCropLife’s Buyers’ Guide Issue Now Availabl…
August 13, 2014
One of our most read issues of the year — the August Buyers' Guide — is ready to download on the iPad. This popular issue features equipment for "In The Field," "At The Plant" and "In The Office." Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
August 13, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
HerbicidesBASF: Fall Burndown Benefits Go Beyond Weed Control
August 12, 2014
While unpredictable weather may delay application timing of spring herbicides, more growers are adding a burndown application in the fall Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide P…
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipNitrogen Efficiency Supports Environmental Stewardship
August 12, 2014
As growers prepare for another harvest, it’s important to consider how nitrogen stabilization not only supports healthy plant growth but also fosters environmental stewardship. Read More
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Introduces 19 New Corn Hybrids For 2015
August 12, 2014
Many of the new hybrids feature Mycogen's SmartStax Refuge Advanced technology for maximum protection of the genetic potential and planting convenience. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces Enlist Ahead App For Enlist…
August 12, 2014
Designed for use with the Enlist Weed Control System, the app is a precision agriculture tool for maximizing weed control performance, managing weed resistance and making responsible applications of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Announces Senior Leadership Team Changes
August 12, 2014
Current CHS strategic leadership team member Shirley Cunningham will assume a new role as executive vice president and chief operating officer, Ag Business and Enterprise Strategy. Read More
ManagementFormulation Chemist Enhances Capabilities For AgriThori…
August 11, 2014
AgriThority has added accomplished formulation chemist Roy Chen to its team of associates supporting new and emerging biotechnologies and conventional chemistries. Read More