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Biological Crop Input Products

Posted on May 28 2014 | Author: Ingrid Fung

Biologically based crop input products are substances that are derived from non-synthetic, naturally occurring sources such as microbes, biochemicals, and minerals. Like their synthetic counterparts, biological crop input products are designed to either limit plant stress (crop protection products) or maximize plant health (yield enhancement products). Rising regulatory scrutiny of novel synthetic crop inputs, and increasing weed and pest resistance to long-standing, often over-used chemicals has resulted in soaring interest in developing biologically-derived options.

Although biologically derived products have been around for over 20 years, previous iterations have achieved limited uptake.  In the past, over-marketing of biologicals, lack of performance consistency, and over-optimistic product claims have led to a negative perception of biological products among growers. 

Currently an expansion interest in biological crop input products is occurring, driven by new research tools, novel synergies with synthetic chemical inputs, and major corporate investments.  New research tools have enabled the elucidation of biological modes of action, as well as the development of regional application practices to mitigate environmental affects on performance.  This has greatly increased the performance consistency of many biological crop input products. The development of biological products that can be used with synthetic chemistries has changed the way in which biological products are used.  Today most successful biological products are marketed as part of a crop input package, to be applied in concert with synthetic crop chemistries.   For example Poncho Votivo™, a crop protection product produced by Bayer Crop Science, is a combination of a traditional fungicide product with a biological product.  As a part of an overall crop input strategy, biological products have the potential to incrementally increase crop performance and yield above those achieved by existing crop treatment packages.

Many companies now look to biological crop input products, not only as a means of accessing niche markets, but as a means of improving current product offerings by adding biologicals to existing crop input products and product packages. This increasing corporate interest towards biological products is exemplified by a series of high-profile acquisitions of leading biological firms, such as the acquisition of AgraQuest (biological crop protection and yield enhancement) by Bayer CropScience, Becker Underwood (inoculants) by BASF Crop Protection and Pasteuria Bioscience (nematode control) and Devgen (biological disease inhibitor technology) by Syngenta Crop Protection.

Biological products show a great deal of promise to not only improve upon synthetic crop chemistries, but also provide greener alternatives. As investment and corporate interest in biological crop input products continues to grow, it will be very interesting to see the innovative products that will be developed. 

Ingrid Fung
Business Analyst, Plant & Animal Science

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Minor Use Pesticides

Posted on May 07 2014 | Author: Tom Dowler

The cost of generating sufficient field data, as well as the time required to move through the Pest Management Agency (PMRA) regulatory system can be prohibitive if a significant return on investment is expected from registering pesticide products for use on small acreage specialty crops. As a result, many pesticide suppliers choose to focus on trialing new products only on crop types with large acreages, allowing them to access relatively large markets upon gaining regulatory approval and launching the product. This has led to the availability of a large number of solutions for producers growing major row crops, but has left producers of small acreage specialty crops with limited options to combat pest issues prevalent in their fields. Some of these under-served specialty crops include ginseng, quinoa and hemp, as well as many fruit and vegetable crops. Many of these crop types are generating significant interest in natural health product and functional food markets providing a long-term opportunities for Canadian producers. Before acreages of some new, low acreage specialty crops can expand, effective pest solutions must be provided to lower risk to producers.

The Canadian Biopesticides and Minor Use Workshop, held in the spring each year (this year March 25-27th), has been developed to address major pesticide solutions required for specialty crops.  Attending this meeting are producers, government crop specialists, regulators, and pesticide suppliers.  These groups come together each year to identify major pest issues prevalent in smaller acreage crops in Canada, identify products on the market or moving through the regulatory system that have not been labeled for minor use areas of need, match the potential solutions to the issues, and prioritize several development projects targeting registration of new solutions. This is a valuable process that allows for producers to be better equipped to deal with pests by the next growing season. The meeting is a proactive dialogue between the participants, and has led to many positive outcomes over the 10+ years it has been running.

Some takeaways from this year’s meeting include:

  • Spotted Wing Drosophola remains a significant problem for many specialty crops including tender fruits, berries, and grapes. There is no near term solution available.
  • Wire worm, present in soil, is currently leading to losses in potatoes and several other crop types. There are limited solutions.
  • Bioenterprise client, Anatis Bioprotection ranked high as a potential solution for several significant minor use issues of outdoor food crops and ornamentals.
  • Nematodes have persisted as an issue across a number of crop types including berries and apples

Tom Dowler
Senior Business Analytst

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