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.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
Florida potato field in bloom.
Citrus
February 22, 2017
New Insecticide Available to Combat Sucking, Chewing Pests
Minecto Pro from Syngenta has received EPA approval for use in specialty and vegetable crops to control lepidopteran and other pests. Read More
Basic tractor on the horizon
Citrus
February 22, 2017
Skilled Labor Needed to Keep Agriculture Growing [Opinion]
Even with the challenge of feeding a growing global population at hand, has focus been lost on recruiting where jobs on the farm are need most? Read More
Cartoon sketch of a citrus seed machine
Varieties & Rootstocks
February 22, 2017
Citrus Nurseries Analyze the Need for Seed
It seems many growers are more certain about their scion choices than they are about available rootstocks. Read More
citrus psyllid closeup
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
IMPAC.org screenshot
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Farmers Win Over Consumers
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Brussels Sprout on a fork
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities for Florida Farmers
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
John Merritt
Citrus
February 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Community Loses Longtime Leader to Leukemia
John Merritt, known as an innovative grower and staunch industry advocate, was 60. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
February 28, 2017
Trump Set to Ditch Controversial Water R…
WOTUS could be on the way out after an executive order calls for a top-to-bottom review. Read More
Citrus
February 25, 2017
Citrus Research Investments Yielding Pos…
Despite still having mounds of wood to chop, grower, federal, and state programs collectively are making a dent. Read More
Citrus
February 22, 2017
New Insecticide Available to Combat Suck…
Minecto Pro from Syngenta has received EPA approval for use in specialty and vegetable crops to control lepidopteran and other pests. Read More
Citrus
February 22, 2017
Skilled Labor Needed to Keep Agriculture…
Even with the challenge of feeding a growing global population at hand, has focus been lost on recruiting where jobs on the farm are need most? Read More
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Far…
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities…
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
Citrus
February 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Community Loses Longtime …
John Merritt, known as an innovative grower and staunch industry advocate, was 60. Read More
Citrus
February 9, 2017
Florida Citrus Forecast Comes Full Circl…
Amid up-and-down pattern, USDA puts all-orange production numbers back on target with initial estimate. Read More
Citrus
February 8, 2017
Nearly Two Tons of Pot Plucked From Load…
Shaped to resemble the tangy citrus fruit, law enforcement officials extract 34,764 packages allegedly filled with an ingredient not intended for pies. Read More
Citrus
February 5, 2017
New Product Helps Bees Brush Off Mites
A British company developed Bee Gym, distributed by Vita Ltd. Read More
Citrus
February 3, 2017
Wonderful Citrus Stakes a Major Claim in…
Acquisition of the largest citrus marketer in Florida makes California company the crop’s top grower, shipper, and packer in the U.S. Read More
Citrus
February 2, 2017
Florida Seeking to Fete More Eco-Innovat…
Nominations open for the Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Award. Read More
Citrus
February 2, 2017
University of Florida Celebrating a Cent…
Cheers all around for UF/IFAS' CREC, the largest facility in the world devoted to a single commodity. Read More
Citrus
January 30, 2017
List of Best College Farms Released
Website evaluated farms on sustainability factors, community programming, and courses available at the university or college farm, not just in the classroom. Read More
Citrus
January 30, 2017
Game Far From Over for Florida Citrus
Attendees of the 2017 Florida Citrus Show convene to commiserate over current challenges, vet future wins via new varieties. Read More
Citrus
January 25, 2017
Ban Lifted on USDA News Releases
Acting USDA deputy administrator says the practice is typical with new administration changes. Read More
Citrus
January 25, 2017
USDA-ARS to Halt Publishing News Release…
News media confirm report. Read More
Citrus
January 24, 2017
Trump Withdraws U.S. From Trans-Pacific …
Fresh produce export market to hit a wall with signing of executive order. Read More