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
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
Seed/BiotechDow Details Enlist Trait Stacking Standards
January 30, 2015
Dow says it will allow the Enlist trait to be stacked with advanced glyphosate traits only, and will not allow stacking with the first generation of the Roundup Ready trait. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: IFCA’s Jean Payne on Illinois wat…
January 30, 2015
Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares insight from the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association conference including a chat with IFCA President Jean Read More
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More