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

Seed/BiotechAdvanta Seeds Adds New Phoenix Corn Hybrids
July 30, 2015
Corn growers in the High Plains and Western states have new options available for the 2016 growing season from Advanta Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Targets Farmers, AFBF In Syngenta Takeover
July 21, 2015
As Monsanto Co. struggles to convince rival Syngenta AG to discuss a potential merger, the seed and agrochemical giant is Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Unveils Wheat Technology Center
July 20, 2015
A ribbon-cutting ceremony today in Filer, ID, marked the grand opening of Monsanto’s Wheat Technology Center, which will serve as Read More
Bayer Seed Care Shakopee MN
Seed/BiotechBayer Celebrates SeedGrowth Equipment Innovation Center Grand Opening
July 13, 2015
Bayer CropScience celebrated its continued commitment to leading the agriculture industry with the grand opening of its SeedGrowth Equipment Innovation Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Feed Division Facilities Receive Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification
July 13, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Feed Division, a marketer and distributor of value-added feed ingredients for the aquaculture, livestock and pet food industries Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Expands To Brazil With Acquisition
July 8, 2015
BRANDT has acquired a majority interest in Target Brasil Fertilizantes Ltda. through its Brazilian subsidiary. Target Brasil manufactures, distributes and Read More
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
Latest News
FungicidesReport: Sudden Death Syndrome Symptoms Appearing In Soy…
July 30, 2015
Last week, symptoms of sudden death syndrome (SDS) began to appear in April 15-planted soybeans at the University of Illinois’s Read More
Seed/BiotechAdvanta Seeds Adds New Phoenix Corn Hybrids
July 30, 2015
Corn growers in the High Plains and Western states have new options available for the 2016 growing season from Advanta Read More
ManagementTechnology and agriculture: a Futurist’s Perspective
July 30, 2015
Futurist David Zach, speaking at this week’s InfoAg Conference in St. Louis, shared thoughts on the benefits and limitations of Read More
Biofuels Plant in Lousiana
Industry NewsIdle Biofuels Plant In Louisiana To Reopen As Ammonia F…
July 30, 2015
A Lithuania-based company plans to spend $265 million to reopen an idle biofuels refinery in Grant Parish as an ammonia Read More
FFA at Monsanto Booth at the 2015 National Farm Machinery Show
Industry NewsFive Students Receive The 2015 Monty’s Plant Food Compa…
July 29, 2015
This fall, five college-bound students will have financial support through the Monty’s Plant Food Company FFA Scholarship. All five scholarship Read More
GYPSOIL Blendable Pellets
Crop InputsBeneficial Reuse Management Launches Pelletized Gypsum …
July 29, 2015
Beneficial Reuse Management (BRM) announced this week at Ag Media Summit that its GYPSOIL Pelletized Products Division will open a Read More
StewardshipOhio Water Quality Project To Determine How Much Phosph…
July 27, 2015
Researchers with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University are looking for farmers in Read More
FertilizerKoch Agronomic Services Launches N-TEGRATION Technology
July 27, 2015
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC (KAS) has launched  N-TEGRATION Technology, a process technology platform designed to enable production of enhanced efficiency fertilizers at Read More
HerbicidesExpert: IARC Herbicide Classifications Leading To Confu…
July 24, 2015
Few people in the crop protection industry had heard of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) before this Read More
ManagementFCI Trade Summit Update & Precision Tank Turns 50
July 23, 2015
Editors Dave Frabotta and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the upcoming FCI Trade Summit in Las Vegas, NV, and how Precision Tank Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesUSDA Deregulates Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Cotton Trait
July 23, 2015
The USDA today issued its decision deregulating Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist cotton trait in the U.S. The USDA has now completed its Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Showcases Versatile Product Por…
July 23, 2015
Technology has revolutionized agriculture by bringing farmers, retailers and distributors to the forefront of the digital age. To meet the Read More
FertilizerWSJ: Cf Industries Exploring Merger With Dutch Chemical…
July 23, 2015
U.S. fertilizer maker CF Industries is in advanced merger talks with Amsterdam-listed chemical company OCI NV, the Wall Street Journal Read More
HerbicidesNufarm Releases New Panther SC Herbicide
July 23, 2015
Nufarm has announced the availability of new Panther SC herbicide. Panther SC is the first liquid formulation of flumioxazin available Read More
EquipmentFarmLink Launches Farm Equipment Sharing Program
July 23, 2015
FarmLink has introduced a new online farm equipment sharing community – MachineryLink Sharing – leveraging this new economy business model Read More
HerbicidesCould The South’s Most Troublesome Weed Represent A Thr…
July 22, 2015
Palmer amaranth is undoubtedly the most troublesome weed in the southern United States, taking a devastating toll on both cotton Read More
Industry NewsH.J. Baker Hires New Director Of International Sales
July 22, 2015
Global Agriculture firm H.J. Baker announced today that Steve Langley has joined the company’s Crop Performance Division and Animal Health Read More
InsecticidesSyngenta Recommends Soybean Scouting To Prevent Economi…
July 22, 2015
Proper soybean insect pest control begins with scouting. As the warm weather continues, Syngenta encourages growers to implement a scouting Read More