Editor’s Note: This week, we had the chance to sit down with Dr. Russell Sharp, Technical Director and Founder of Plater Bio, which he founded in 2016 to commercialize novel agrichemical solutions to the major challenges facing agriculture. Sharp will speak about best practices for marketing biostimulants at the Biostimulant CommerceCon, co-located with the AgriBusiness Global Trade Summit, 30 July – Aug. 2, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. AgriBusiness Global is a sister publication of CropLife. Here he discusses his career and topics including what he believes triggered the current boom in the biostimulant market.
Can you share some details about your background and how you have seen the biostimulant market evolve?
Russell Sharp: I have always been obsessed with plants. I was a member of the Liverpool Botanical Society as a teenager and then went on to be a student, doctoral student, post doc, and lecturer in Plant Science. Then if that wasn’t enough, I have spent many a vacation hunting weird and wacky plants and studying their biology in far-flung places.
My academic research career focused on translating pure plant science into solutions for challenges in the commercial horticulture and agriculture industry in the UK. This included studying the mode of action of microbial biostimulant products that modulate plant growth and health.
In 2014 I left academia to enter the biostimulants sector as I could see that this was an area of rapid expansion and a sector where plant physiologists could use their skills to make a real difference to improve crop yields.
While biostimulants have been used for many decades, it was from 2010 that the industry began to snowball due to a combination of: 1) new technologies being developed, 2) investors increasingly seeing it as a good area to invest, and 3) traditional agchem (pesticides and fertilizers) showing lower growth rates due to falling commodity prices.
The biostimulants market has grown rapidly, with many companies being formed in the last 10 years. However, many of the products are very similar, and so differentiation is currently the major challenge in this sector. Another major challenge is regulation, with many new regulations appearing, or set to be implemented in most major regions to cover products that previously were outside the scope of traditional agchem registration schemes.
Read the full article, including what he believes is behind the boom in biostimulants.