Biopesticides: Effective Alternatives

There’s an old bit of wisdom regarding cooperation and friendship that says that two heads are better than one. In truth, this life lesson could apply to Davis, CA-based biopesticide producer AgraQuest, Inc. According to Cesar Lamonega, vice president, Americas and Asian Region for the company, AgraQuest prefers to market its products as complimentary to conventional ones, not as alternatives to them.

“We really don’t see our biopesticides and conventional chemistries as adversarial,” says Lamonega. “Instead, we promote mixing biopesticide use with conventional crop protection products to help extend their life against resistance and improve their efficiencies.”

What AgraQuest does stress about its products is that they adhere to a low chemical (low chem) approach to growing crops. By its definition, low chem methods reduce the amount of regulated crop protection product residues and/or negative impact on the environment without reducing the efficacy or yield of the spray program. This is accomplished in one of two ways: By replacing a current conventional crop protection product spray with a biopesticide or reducing the rate of the conventional product to its lowest label rate.

According to Sarah Reiter, global marketing director, this approach to growing crops comes from numerous sources, inside and outside the industry itself. “Consumers are demanding cleaner food, growers want safer and more flexible inputs and government restrictions on older chemistries are increasing,” says Reiter. “This convergence is growing the need for products in the biopesticide area.”

Few analysts debate that there is a need for more food production in the world, adds Reiter. Based upon the most conservative projections, global growers will have to feed an additional 1.2 billion mouths in the next 10 years using a finite amount of arable land and water resources.

Products To Help

To aid in this effort, AgraQuest has a range of biopesticides in its portfolio, for use on 137 crops in more than 20 countries around the world. These include insecticides Requiem, Baritone and Metronome and fungicides Sonata and Rhapsody.

Specifically for the corn and soybean markets, AgraQuest has Ballad Plus. A fungicide, Ballad Plus features anti-fungal amino sugars and Bacillus spores. According to Reiter, these help increase the plant’s resistance to fungus attacks while increasing nutrient uptake and photosynthesis. In 2009 field trials, Ballad Plus was shown to control or suppress soybean rust, frog eye leaf spot and anthracnose.

Tying back to its promotion of mixing products for better results, Reiter says AgraQuest has conducted several studies on combining Ballad Plus with other fungicides in the strobilurin and triazole chemistries. This included mixing 1-quart of Ballad Plus with the lowest label rate of strobilurin or triazole and 1-pint of Ballad Plus with the highest labeled rate for both chemistries. “In both cases, our tests were able to demonstrate that soybean yields increased an average of 4.6 bushels per area using this approach,” she says.

Another new fungicide from Agra­Quest is Serenade Soil. Applied at planting, the brand helps to build a disease protection zone around the seed using beneficial bacteria. Once colonized, says Reiter, the bacteria produce compounds that not only continue attacking soil disease, but trigger metabolic pathways to activate the plant’s natural defenses and modulate growth. “In tests, Serenade Soil protects against such soil diseases as rhizoctonia, fusarium, pythium and phytophthora,” she says.

Multiple Partnerships

In addition to pointing out how its products work well with other crop protection offerings, AgraQuest also has engaged in an aggressive program partnering with conventional crop protection product manufacturers to distribute its brands. For example, in April 2009, the company signed an agreement with BASF Corp., giving the German company the rights to Serenade for foliar and drench applications in crops in countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

Last December, AgraQuest announced an agreement with Bayer CropScience LP. Under this arrangement, the company is providing its technology based on the proprietary Bacillus subtilis (QST 173) strain for two of Bayer’s Natria products.

Finally, two months ago, Agra­Quest and Monsanto Co. entered a collaboration to evaluate the potential of the company’s pipeline of biopesticide leads to develop seed treatments for Monsanto’s core crops and vegetables. The three-year deal is aimed at developing seed treatment products to control nematodes, disease and insects and enhance plant growth and yield using AgraQuest’s collection of microbes. “We believe our research in the field of biopesticide alternatives for pest and stress management will complement Monsanto’s work in helping farmers protect the yield potential of their farms by offering them better pest control and plant health options,” says AgraQuest CEO Marcus Meadows-Smith.

With its family of products and market partners in line, AgraQuest is having a “great year” so far in 2010. “After the first quarter, we had a 100% sales increase vs. 2009,” says Lamonega. “For the full year, we expect to be up approximately 45% compared with last year.”

Looking even further ahead, Reiter says AgraQuest is not going to be satisfied to build its future on a few successful brands to date. “We are here to build a sustainable business,” she says.

To this end, the company is conducting field trials on 12 new compounds. With an anticipated approval time from the EPA of 18 months per compound (vs. three years for conventional products), the first of this new wave of biopesticides should be ready to hit the market in 2013. “We want to keep coming up with new ways to utilize the low chem model,” says Reiter.

Lamonega agrees with this view. “Right now, the low chem market is a $800 million segment of the crop protection business globally,” he says. “But in five to seven years, strong drivers will create a market demand for such products approaching $5 billion to $10 billion. We want to ultimately be the leader in this field.”

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In The Midwest
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked Microbial Seed Treatments Result In Increased Yields
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
Seed/BiotechNufarm Introduces New Seed Treatment Solutions
February 3, 2017
Nufarm Americas, Inc. has announced the addition of new, innovative and proven seed treatment solutions to its product portfolio. Promoting Read More
Seed/BiotechAgrisure Viptera Trait Demonstrates Effective Control Of Above-Ground Insects
February 1, 2017
Across the Corn Belt this past season, hybrids containing the Agrisure Viptera trait demonstrated effective control of above-ground insects in Read More
Trending Articles
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teaching Fertilizer Education
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Latest News
ManagementStudy: Farming Becoming Riskier Under Climate Change
March 28, 2017
Scientists the world over are working to predict how climate change will affect our planet. It is an extremely complex Read More
Young Corn Plants
Crop NutritionProtecting Nitrogen Provides Economic, Environmental RO…
March 28, 2017
Every business looks to improve its return on investment and reduce its risk of loss. Farmers are no different, yet Read More
Water Drainage
Eric SfiligojDMWW Lawsuit Dismissal Good News for Ag
March 27, 2017
On March 17 while most of the nation was toasting St. Patrick’s Day, agriculture was likely lifting a glass (or Read More
Eric Jenks, Wilbur-Ellis
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Launches ADVANTIGRO Plant Growth Regulator…
March 27, 2017
Wilbur-Ellis Agribusiness, a recognized leader in the marketing and distribution of crop protection, seed and nutritional products, as well as Read More
Yara West Sacramento Ribbon Cutting
Crop InputsYara West Sacramento Is Newest Addition
March 27, 2017
Yara’s West Sacramento Terminal was officially welcomed March 21 as the newest Yara North America facility in the U.S. While continually Read More
UncategorizedPrecision Ag, Iowa Water, and GM Corn Updates
March 24, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj look at the state of precision agriculture, the dismissal of the Des Moines Water Read More
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market Wit…
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teach…
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Young corn plants in soil
HerbicidesBest Management Practices To Control PPO-Resistant Weed…
March 14, 2017
Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Eric SfiligojFungicide Resistance On The Horizon
March 13, 2017
For many years now, the agricultural market has struggled to keep ahead of an ever-growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According Read More