Giving Plants the Best Possible Start with Biological Seed Treatments
One thing is for certain: biologicals are a fast-growing market. In 2018, the global agricultural biologicals market was worth over US$5bn; and by 2025 it is forecast to double to almost US$11bn. That’s an average annual growth rate of 12%! The secret of biologicals’ success is quite simple: this segment is addressing the needs of both farmers and consumers. Farmers are profiting from increased yields and crop quality thanks to the improved soil, root and plant health biologicals make possible. What’s more, biological seed treatments can help crops to use nutrients more efficiently and support farmers to produce more with fewer CO2 emissions. Consumers for their part are more and more interested in how their food is grown and whether farming practices are economically and environmentally sustainable. Biologicals are increasingly making a key contribution to reducing the impact of modern agriculture on the environment.
So how do biological seed treatments work? The plant rhizosphere and multidimensional interactions between microbes, soil and plants are an extremely complex process that has developed over millions of years. Unlocking these symbiotic relationships with the soil microbiome is key to developing innovative biological solutions that offer farmers a smart and sustainable way of growing our food.
In recent years, the level of scientific research in biologicals has accelerated considerably and Bayer is partnering with private and public institutions to advance our understanding of the soil microbiome and identify beneficial microbial strains from different environments around the world. At Bayer we are investing significant resources in the development of new biological seed treatments. Our research starts with the screening of more than 10,000 microbes each year to find the best possible combinations to produce an effective biological solution. Next, we tackle the challenge of transferring positive results from a laboratory or greenhouse to the open field under varying climatic and soil conditions. These field trials are accompanied by rigorous studies of the multiple interactions between the biological product, the plant, and the environment. State-of-the-art algorithms and digital tools enable Bayer scientists to analyze field trials more effectively and faster than ever before.
The outcome is a science-based biological innovation that gives growers a broader choice in agronomic solutions. With our biological seed treatments, we strengthen plants from the very start and enable them to cope not only with pests and diseases, but also with unfavorable environmental conditions, such as abiotic stress (e.g. caused by drought) and nutrient-poor soils. Overcoming such challenges is key to boosting agricultural productivity in a sustainable manner and producing enough food to feed a growing global population.
I expect the biological seed treatment segment to grow significantly in years to come. With our strong R&D pipeline and open innovation partnerships we will be continuously providing groundbreaking biological seed treatments. Some of the more recently launched innovations include the Optimize® 500 inoculant for soybeans in Brazil with improved performance and longer on-seed shelf life, our BioRise™ corn offering in North America, or the new launches for wheat in Europe, JumpStart® WT and ProStablish® WT, which enhance nutrient and water uptake and consistently increase grower yields.
Biologicals not only help farmers by supporting plants in the early stages of their growth but can also be put to good use throughout the growing season. For more information about our complete biologicals’ portfolio why not visit us at the Annual Biocontrol Industry Meeting (ABIM) at Basel Congress Center from October 21-23. You will find Bayer, one of the event’s Platinum Sponsors, at Booth 68.