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Crop biologicals are key to optimizing crop production

May 9, 2022
Tomato production

Agriculture is facing increased challenges at the crossroad of environmental awareness, sustainability and profitability. Equipping farmers to better respond to these demands is the driving principle of Alltech Crop Science through the development of biological solutions that contribute to crop productivity and protection while sustainably increasing farmers’ profitability.

The threat of ongoing climate change, along with the ever-increasing extreme weather events seen around the world, creates uncertainty and instability in crop production. Decades of poor farming practices and high levels of pollution have led to soil depletion, resulting in the loss of approximately one-third of the world’s arable land. This scenario raises alarm bells for potential devastating consequences as the global demand for food soars, threatening food security and bringing sustainable agriculture to the forefront of everyone's minds.

The great challenge facing us for the immediate future is to provide enough healthy, accessible and nutritious food for an ever-growing world population. Farmers and the food industry in general are being asked to increase food production by 70% by the year 2050.

At the same time, the most recent environmental policies and regulations are oriented toward a reduction in and limitation of synthetic fertilizers, active substances and other solutions commonly used in crop production to stimulate yields and protect plants.

The excessive use of chemical products increasingly affects soil health and nutrient availability and leads to soil degradation, the release of greenhouse gases generated by nitrous oxide, a risk of the chemical pollution of soils by nitrates and the contamination of aquifers.

Several new regulatory, governmental, social and environmental requirements imply an evolution and innovation for the agricultural sector, and it is urgent that producers adopt new solutions that revitalize our soils, lead us to the responsible management of this crucial resource and assist in securing more sustainable crop production.

Biotechnological solutions are gaining ground as an alternative to meet both current and future agricultural demands and are becoming a tool in sustainable agriculture.

Bio-solutions drivers

1. Demographic growth. The need to feed more people with fewer and better-managed resources.

2. Climate change. Equipping crops to withstand increasing extreme weather conditions.

3. Crop nutrition. Sustainably improving crop nourishment and yields.

4. Sustainability. Partnering environment stewardship with profitability.

5. Soil preservation. Supporting the soil’s ecosystem balance and nutrient availability.

Biologicals: What are we talking about?

“Biological” is a buzzword encompassing a wide range of microscopic infinite potentialities fitting into three major groups: plant growth regulators, beneficial microorganisms, and biostimulants. From their roots to the tips of their leaves, plants are surrounded by virtually billions of these tiny species, whether they be bacteria, viruses, protozoa or fungi.

Agricultural biologicals are one of the fastest-growing segments in agricultural inputs. The global biostimulants market alone was valued at $2.5 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $5.35 billion in 2027, with the backdrop of an estimated $10 billion biologicals market by 2025. Biosolutions research, development and application span from seed treatment and soil and plant health to post-harvest and shelf life.

Biofertilizer and biostimulant products are being used on a vast diversity of crops throughout the world, from fruits to vegetables and tree nuts, as well as row and field crops. Their use can strengthen plants, making them resistant to stress factors such as extreme temperatures (heat or cold) and water scarcity, and can boost their development and productivity.

Biological products can incorporate conventional crop treatments — complementing and even enhancing the use of chemical crop protection products — in integrated pest management (IPM) programs or can be used in a full organic agriculture-oriented program.

These biotechnology solutions help farmers reduce their fertilizer inputs and nutrient losses without reducing their soil fertility and protect the soil from physical and biological degradation. Biological products favour the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen or the solubilization of phosphorus and other nutrients in the soil, increasing their availability and uptake by plants. Microbial populations have always been a part of farming, but they’ve long been overlooked as a result of decades of poor agricultural practices. Restoring soil biology is a game-changer, bringing biologicals to the forefront of agriculture in the very near future.

Alltech Crop Science (ACS) has a long-standing history of developing crop biologicals and bringing these sustainable alternatives to the market, helping farmers increase their productivity while addressing their concerns about profitability and sustainability.

A new crop revolution is on the move

“Produce more with less” is somewhat of a catchphrase, but it translates in full to the shift in farmers’ mindsets taking place in light of the different pressures to which agricultural production are being subject.

The growing trend of sustainable agriculture, low residue levels, and support of worldwide legislation are the primary drivers leading the sector's growth.

The use of biological solutions enables farmers to stay ahead of demands for the market’s environmental sustainability, responding to the pressing demands for quality, wholesome, zero-residue crops, aligning their search for sustainable yields with environmental concerns and global climate goals.

The benefit comes from maximizing the use of natural resources such as water, light, the edaphic environment, and the genetic potential of crops, among other factors.

Key benefits of biologicals use:

  • Reduces the use of chemical inputs, lowering the environmental impact of crop production
  • Optimizes crop productivity and quality, promoting food security
  • Enhances plant resilience and response to biotic and abiotic stresses
  • Promotes soil microbiological balance, favoring the soil

Research and innovation bring farmers the solutions to respond to these great challenges, combining sustainability with profitability, respecting our common natural resources, caring for our animals and preserving the land, air and water to leave a planet full of potential for future generations.