Are Biopesticides the Future of Crop Protection?

Prairie Gleanings

A lot of big names in crop protection have made investments in ag biologicals. We'll start seeing some new biopesticide products in the future.

Published on: September 10, 2013

If I were a betting man (and, I’m not, by the way), I’d wager ag biologicals will explode in the crop protection market in the coming years.

What are ag biologicals, or biopesticides? Well, many of you are probably already using them. The VOTiVO portion of Bayer’s Poncho/VOTiVO seed treatment is a biopesticide. More specifically, VOTiVO is a beneficial bacteria that acts as a nematicide.

In a broader sense, Bayer’s Dennis Warkentin explains biopesticides include microbials (like bacteria and fungi), biorationals (plant extracts and pheromones), macrobials (beneficial insect populations) and others like beneficial viruses.

According to the Biopesticide Industry Alliance’s Bill Stoneman, this product category is growing by nearly 16% each year. In 2011, it was a $1.3 billion market. By 2017, Stoneman predicts it will grow to $3.2 billion. That’s compared to the entire crop protection industry, which is valued at around $50 billion.

If youve planted seed with Poncho/VOTiVO, youre already using biopesticides.
If you've planted seed with Poncho/VOTiVO, you're already using biopesticides.

Still not convinced this is the wave of the future? Consider this. Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta have all made significant investments in biopesticides. It stands to reason you’ll start seeing more of these products in the very near future.

And, don’t think these product offerings will be only for organic vegetable growers. As Warkentin explains, Bayer’s strategy is to pair biologicals with traditional chemical pesticides for better overall control.

By doing so, farmers will have access to an expanded toolbox to help ward off dreaded resistances.

When using biopesticides, fruit and vegetable growers will have expanded market access as traditional pesticide levels will be much lower than when using an all-chemical program, Warkentin notes.

If population experts are correct, we’ll need every tool available to feed some 10 billion people by 2050. So, keep your eyes open for new biopesticides as crop protection companies seek a return on their investments.

Stoneman is absolutely correct – these products have made the jump from the derogatory “snake oil” category to the mainstream.