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

Trending Articles

HerbicidesAdjusting To The New Reality Of Weed Control
November 4, 2014
Even with new cropping systems being readied for market introductions, weed control will remain a challenge for many. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
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
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More

Latest News

soybean field
Crop InputsABM Patents Microbial R&D Technique
November 25, 2014
Focused Microbial Diversity (FMD) is a newly patented technique employed by Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM) to research and develop microbials that will be used in ABM products Read More
Crop InputsStorage Options Help Grain Growers Go To Market
November 24, 2014
While on-farm storage in a traditional upright storage bin is one possibility for storing grain, it may not be for everyone. Read More
Eric SfiligojGiving Thanks For Another Great Year
November 24, 2014
As Thanksgiving Day 2014 arrives, agriculture has plenty to be thankful for. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Cost-Cutting Program To Affect 1,800 Jobs
November 24, 2014
The company's Accelerating Operational Leverage program will result in job reductions and relocations totaling around 1,800 across the company, the majority of which will occur in 2015. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Announces Operator Of The Year Finalists
November 20, 2014
Four custom applicators have been selected by AGCO Application Equipment as finalists for 2014 Operator of the Year, an honor that recognizes them as being among the top professionals in their industry throughout North America. Read More
MicronutrientsH.J. Baker Expands Tiger-Sul Business
November 20, 2014
H.J. Baker has created and filled two strategic positions in business development and sales within its Crop Performance Division. Read More
soybean field
FertilizerGeneral Mills Honors United Suppliers For Nitrogen Opti…
November 19, 2014
United Suppliers winning proposal detailed SUSTAIN, a consulting network that provides customized products and services for farmers using a needs-based system approach. Read More
EmployeesOhio AgriBusiness Association Awards $25,000 In Scholar…
November 19, 2014
Each year, the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Educational Trust scholarship program awards scholarship dollars to students enrolled in an agriculture-related field attending several state colleges. Read More
ManagementServi-Tech Names New CEO
November 17, 2014
Servi-Tech has named Greg Ruehle its new president and CEO. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Ag Acquires Colorado Aerial Application Outlet
November 17, 2014
Ft. Lupton, CO-based Reck Aviation — a full-service chemical application company providing aerial crop applications of fertilizers and crop protection products — will operate as part of Pinnacle's AgOne Application Services brand. Read More
Eric SfiligojMcDonald’s Message: Biotech Crops Scarier Than Cancer
November 17, 2014
Despite their potential health benefits, one of the world’s largest potato users will pass on a new biotech offering. Read More
MicronutrientsWinField Releases 2014 NutriSolutions Results
November 14, 2014
A number of significant regional and national crop deficiency trends emerged from the 2014 WinField NutriSolutions tissue sampling program. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Opens Chinese Production Lines
November 14, 2014
The occasion was the official launch of the Tiger-Sul sulphur Bentonite production line of two much anticipated fertilizer products in China, T90CR sulphur fertilizer and TZinc micronutrient enhanced sulphur fertilizer. Read More
ManagementOhio Certified Crop Adviser Program Accepting Nominatio…
November 14, 2014
The award recognizes an individual who delivers exceptional customer service for farmer clients in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop production in Ohio. Read More
HerbicidesSyngenta Announces Acuron Trial Plot Results
November 14, 2014
Acuron was tested at 167 trial locations across 35 states. Trials included 95 Syngenta locations, 54 university locations and 18 distributor locations. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Expands Sales Force
November 13, 2014
The new sales representatives will work with growers, retail partners and distributors to oversee technical training and product education. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Raises $100K For Wounded Warrior Project
November 13, 2014
AGCO Corp. partnered with local AGCO dealers across the U.S. and Canada to raise nearly $100,000 in support of wounded service veterans. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Launch Of Enlist Duo Herbici…
November 12, 2014
It will be launched in conjunction with a stewarded introduction of Enlist corn, and seed production of Enlist soybeans in 2015. Read More