Chemical Companies Take Note Of Biologicals

Vern Hawkins

Perusing recent headlines, a definite trend has emerged in the crop protection business. The giant ag chemical companies are very much interested in biological products. Consider:

In August, Bayer CropScience completed its purchase of Davis, CA-based AgraQuest Inc., a global supplier of innovative biological pest management solutions. The purchase price was approximately $500 million. This acquisition will enable Bayer CropScience to build a leading technology platform for biological crop protection solutions and pump up its fruit and vegetable portfolio, while also opening new opportunities in other crops and markets. Biologics control a broad spectrum of pests and diseases and offer farmers integrated pest management programs to minimize resistance and maximize crop yields.

AgraQuest is now part of Bayer CropScience’s crop protection business, and the former CEO of AgraQuest, Marcus Meadows-Smith, is now Head of Strategic Business Management Biologics. He explained that Bayer CropScience is integrating their former research and development team, and breaking down traditional silos looking for synergies between the areas of chemicals and biologicals. The company is planning on increasing spending on R&D, and between 2011 to 2016 Bayer CropScience plans to invest $5 billion euros. Half of that will be on seeds and biologics, half on novel chemical crop protection. Part of the change is not only internal, said Meadows-Smith, it’s how they view growers. “The old model for biologics was based in organic, so you had to use them by themselves,” he said. “Today it is an integrated solutions approach, completely different.”

Meadows-Smith said growers will be changing the way they view these new products. In the past, biological materials were on the soft side. But today’s products will offer very, very good control, in part because they are
not wholly dependent on biological ingredients. “This mixture of chemistry plus biological will give growers better yields and higher quality, which is particularly encouraging for those who want to enter lucrative export markets,” he said.

In late September, Pasteuria Bioscience, which is based in Florida, announced that it would be acquired by Syngenta. In 2011, Syngenta and Pasteuria Bioscience entered into a global exclusive technology partnership to produce nematode control products based on Pasteuria spp., a naturally-occurring soil bacteria long recognized as a promising biological control agent against nematodes. The first products resulting from this relationship will be available in 2014. Under terms of the agreement, Syngenta will acquire Pasteuria Bioscience for aggregate payments of $86 million, plus up to $27 million in deferred payments.

“Biologicals are getting more prominent, especially in Europe, and there’s an increasing emphasis on environmental stewardship,” Vern Hawkins, president of Syngenta Crop Protection, said in a speech at October’s annual meeting of the California Association of Pest Control Advisers. “Stewardship is not optional any more in fruits and vegetables.”

In an interview later, Hawkins said he definitely expects Syngenta to keep more biological companies on the radar screen as both grocery chains and consumers continue to focus on such issues as the environment and food safety. “We see the evolution of this technology changing agriculture, especially the production of fruits and vegetables, where consumer preferences continue to develop,” he said. “Look at Europe, where protocols are emerging for growers. Growers will need some level of control without chemicals, which means biologicals.”

In late November, (just prior to press time) BASF completed the acquisition of Becker Underwood from Norwest Equity Partners, a U.S.-based private equity investment company, for a purchase price of $1.02 billion. With the acquisition, BASF has expanded its product portfolio in the area of biological crop protection. “The acquisition fits very well with our long-term growth strategy,” said Andreas Kreimeyer, research executive director, in a press release. “It will provide our customers with an even broader range of innovative solutions for agriculture. And it also provides our new colleagues with access to BASF’s global R&D platform as well as new markets and customers.” 

For more on biologicals, click on the additional page.

Pages: 1 2

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
CitrusAsian Citrus Psyllid Marches North In California Citrus Belt
January 22, 2015
Part of one of the richest agricultural areas in the U.S., Fresno County, has been quarantined. Read More
Apples & PearsReal-World Solutions Highlight First Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow
January 22, 2015
Topping the inaugural event's marquee are presentations on “Driving Crop Quality and Productivity Using Biocontrols” by representatives from two of the largest produce growing organizations in the country. Read More
MarketingFlorida Citrus Commission Probes Federal Marketing Order For Orange Juice
January 21, 2015
Meeting to be scheduled for March to vet possibilities. Read More
CitrusBayer CropScience Launches Latest Insecticide, Sivanto
January 20, 2015
New product delivers precision pest control to preserve the health of plants and protect fruit and vegetable crops. Read More
CitrusGrowers Should Stay Grounded When Reaching For Lofty Goals [Opinion]
January 20, 2015
Unmanned aerial vehicles are all the rage. Can and will this technology become a standard tool for farmers? Read More
CitrusScientists Say 2014 Warmest Year Since 1880
January 19, 2015
Separate studies by NASA and NOAA confirm continuance of long-term warming trend. Read More
CitrusFormer Florida Citrus Packers Leader Passes Away Unexpectedly
January 19, 2015
Richard Kinney was a longtime liason and champion for the industry. Read More
The Latest
CitrusShopping For UAVs? Here Are 2 To Consider
January 25, 2015
Check out a couple of high-flying options from Altavian. Read More
Apples & PearsSurvey: Positive Indicators For Biocontrols In U.S. Hor…
January 22, 2015
Preliminary results of a survey conducted in December 2014 of more than 850 readers across six Meister Media Worldwide titles Read More
CitrusAsian Citrus Psyllid Marches North In California Citrus…
January 22, 2015
Part of one of the richest agricultural areas in the U.S., Fresno County, has been quarantined. Read More
Apples & PearsReal-World Solutions Highlight First Biocontrols 2015 C…
January 22, 2015
Topping the inaugural event's marquee are presentations on “Driving Crop Quality and Productivity Using Biocontrols” by representatives from two of the largest produce growing organizations in the country. Read More
CitrusBayer CropScience Launches Latest Insecticide, Sivanto
January 20, 2015
New product delivers precision pest control to preserve the health of plants and protect fruit and vegetable crops. Read More
CitrusGrowers Should Stay Grounded When Reaching For Lofty Go…
January 20, 2015
Unmanned aerial vehicles are all the rage. Can and will this technology become a standard tool for farmers? Read More
CitrusScientists Say 2014 Warmest Year Since 1880
January 19, 2015
Separate studies by NASA and NOAA confirm continuance of long-term warming trend. Read More
CitrusFormer Florida Citrus Packers Leader Passes Away Unexpe…
January 19, 2015
Richard Kinney was a longtime liason and champion for the industry. Read More
CitrusElevated Expectations For UAV Use In Agriculture
January 15, 2015
Uncertainties aside, many believe unmanned aircraft will find a lasting place in farming. Read More
CitrusFire Ravages California Citrus Packinghouse
January 15, 2015
Close to $1 million worth of boxes, pallets reportedly burned up at Sunkist-operated facility. Read More
CitrusLatest Florida Citrus Forecast Hits Season’s First Sn…
January 12, 2015
Overall orange production reduced by 5 million boxes. Read More
CitrusFreeze Threat Has Florida Growers On Alert
January 7, 2015
Technology to help producers prepare for, endure cold snap. Read More
CitrusStudy Predicts No Farmers And Ranchers Under Age 35 By …
January 7, 2015
Research conducted in Wyoming examines how the agricultural community is aging and what needs to be done to encourage young people to pursue a career in farming. Read More
CitrusDitch Party Politics To Move Forward With Immigration R…
January 3, 2015
The President’s proposed immigration plan has drawn criticism from agricultural sectors, but is an important first step in fixing the long-broken system. Read More
CitrusAsk, Think, And Plan Before Joining The Family Business
January 1, 2015
Returning to the farm is often an emotional decision, rather than a carefully considered career move. Read More
CitrusIndian River Citrus Icon Passes Away At 95
December 31, 2014
Dan Richardson was known for making a positive impact in the industry and local community. Read More
CitrusIncreased Produce Imports To South Florida Ready For Ta…
December 30, 2014
Thanks to expansion of pilot program, apples, citrus, and pears from Argentina and Peru now allowed. Read More
CitrusFarmers Must Adapt To A Changing World View [Opinion]
December 26, 2014
The Millennials, and society in general, have embraced notions about agriculture from the perspective of a well-fed people several generations removed from the farm. Read More