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/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
Seed/BiotechWater Optimized Seed Flowing Freely
April 1, 2014
As the demand for ag to diminish its water use while maintaining high yields and crop quality increases, three companies are leading the movement to grow more with less water. Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer Applies For Seed Treatment That Protects Against Sudden Death Syndrome
February 26, 2014
If approved, ILeVO seed treatment would be the first product to provide breakthrough protection for soybean seedlings from the soil borne pathogen Fusarium virguliforme, the fungus that causes SDS. Read More
Seed/BiotechSeed Still Central
November 1, 2013
Advancing genetics continue to make seed the crop variable that calls the shots for the season. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
May 19, 2015
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
Syngenta Sign
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Lawyer’s Victory Claim In Vi…
May 18, 2015
A plaintiff’s lawyer has issued a public statement claiming that damages have been awarded in the Agrisure Viptera corn lawsuits Read More
StewardshipCould Australian Water Trading Approach Fit In Californ…
May 18, 2015
Ten years of drought isn’t a good thing. It doesn’t help the bottom line of farmers or the health of Read More
SpreadersDutch Sprayer Manufacturer To Enter U.S. Market
May 18, 2015
Dutch self-propelled sprayer manufacturer Agrifac Machinery has announced intentions to enter the U.S. market with two models of sprayers available Read More
FertilizerTFI Weighs In On Fertilizer Rail Transport Bill
May 14, 2015
With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies Read More
ManagementA Visit To The 2015 Environmental Respect Spirit Award …
May 14, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a recent visit to the CPS Spirit winner in St. Stephen’s Church, Read More
StewardshipBayer Entomologist Issues Statement On Annual Honeybee …
May 13, 2015
Richard (Dick) Rogers, Principal Scientist / Entomologist, Bayer Bee Care Center for Bayer CropScience LP, today issued the following statement Read More
Crop InputsKansas State Researchers Announce Resistant Kochia Brea…
May 13, 2015
Kansas State University researchers say new research helps explain why an invasive weed is developing resistance to a well-known herbicide, Read More
RR2X soybeans surround untreated check (center)
HerbicidesUSDA Study: Glyphosate Application More Prevalent In So…
May 13, 2015
Glyphosate—known by many trade names, including Roundup—has been the most widely used pesticide in the United States since 2001. It Read More
AdjuvantsHelena Chemical Introduces New Drift Control Adjuvant J…
May 13, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. introduces Justified, an innovative drift control agent designed to improve the performance and precision of spray applications Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unificati…
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More