(bio)Logical Solution

The growth of the biological sector in crop protection

Published online: Mar 26, 2018 Articles Tyrell Marchant, Editor
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This article appears as the cover feature in the April 2018 issue of Potato Grower.


When it comes to crop protection, the word “biologicals” still carries with it a bit of a connotation of either newfangled pseudoscience or ineffectual snake oil in some producers’ minds. Most growers do their homework and on a conscious level accept the science behind biological control measures; but on some subconscious level, there still seems to be something causing many to take a wait-and-see approach on adopting these products, says Keith Jones, executive director of the Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA).

As is usually the case with agricultural folk, though, common sense is prevailing, and the biological control sector is growing at an impressive rate. Jones says the BPIA conservatively projects 14 to 15 percent growth of the industry over the next few years. And it’s not just organic growers driving that growth.

“Organic is high-profile and sexy and is growing really fast,” says Jones, “but the actual acreage is still pretty small. So that growth is from conventional operations’ integrated pest management practices. A lot of biologicals extend the life of traditional chemistries. They help solve MRL and worker safety issues. There are a lot of benefits biologicals provide.”

Since its inception in 2000, BPIA has grown to an organization of 125 member companies who today work collaboratively to not only tout the effectiveness of their respective products, but to advance the industry as a whole while meeting growers’ needs.

“Rising tides life all ships,” says Michael Larose, market segment manager for the agriculture division at BioSafe Systems, an early BPIA member company. “We attend these BPIA meetings, and collectively, we’re growing the market. We don’t look at it like we’re networking with our competitors; it’s a group effort.

“Biologicals have been around for a while, but it’s only been the last eight to 10 years that the education has really increased and the need has really increased,” Larose continues. “There aren’t a lot of new chemistries coming down the pipeline as far as conventional chemistries go, so biopesticides really are providing a lot of value to growers.”

Neither Jones nor Larose claims that biologicals are some miracle class of products that will solve every issue growers face in producing for an ever more discerning consumer. But, as evidenced by the growth of the industry, growers are getting increasingly comfortable—and increasingly adept—at using biological products to grow a higher-yielding, higher-quality food product for a modern market. Aided by the BPIA, companies that have succeeded in producing traditional chemicals have ventured into—and formulated fantastic products for—the biological sector.

“These days, the technology is just amazing,” says Jones. “Even though these are natural things that have been around a while, scientists’ ability to understand and replicate those natural processes continues to grow.

“Every year, technology builds on itself in any field, whether it’s medicine computers or ag-related technologies. They stand on the shoulders of what came before them, and you start to see exponential growth in technology. We’re seeing that in the biological chemistries.”

 

There are over 70 biopesticides registered for use on potatoes in the United States, including the following, all of which are produced by BPIA member companies.

  • 1,4Seed
  • 1,4Ship
  • 1,4Sight
  • Actinovate
  • Agree
  • Agri-Fos
  • Armicarb
  • BioAct
  • Biobit HP WP
  • Biobit XL
  • Bio-Save 10 LP
  • Bio-Save 11 LP
  • BlightBan A506
  • Botanigard
  • Companion
  • Condor
  • Contans WG
  • Crymax
  • Deliver
  • Des-X
  • Dipel DF
  • Dipel Dust
  • Dipel ES
  • Elexa 4
  • Gemstar
  • Hi-Yield Dipel Dust
  • Jackpot
  • Javelin WG
  • Jet-Ag
  • Jet-Oxide
  • K-Phite
  • M-97-009 Kaolin
  • MeloCon
  • MilStop
  • M-Pede
  • Mycotrol
  • Mycotrol-O
  • Naturalis
  • Nema-Q
  • NemOut
  • Neudorff’s Insecticidal Soap Concentrate
  • Novodor
  • Nutrol
  • OxiDate
  • Polyversum
  • Prestop Mix
  • ProAct
  • Prophyt
  • Requiem
  • Rhapsody
  • Ringer
  • Scythe
  • Serenade
  • Sincocin
  • Smolder
  • Snow Plus
  • Soilgard 12G
  • Sonata
  • Spod-X
  • SucraShield
  • Surround
  • T-22 Granules
  • Tenet WP
  • Thuricide
  • Thuricide 48 LV
  • Thuricide HPC
  • Thuricide HPC-Home and Garden
  • VigorOx
  • XenTari
  • XenTari DF
  • Zonix