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The future is ... biological

News today that FMC is teaming with Chr. Hansen and acquired the Center for Agricultural and Environmental Biosolutions assets is the latest in a series of acquisitions and announcements in the business. BASF bought Becker Underwood earlier this year - we featured a gallery on their process - and Bayer CropScience earlier acquisition of AgraQuest shows that the future will include biological solutions.

Bayer CropScience already points to its Poncho/Votivo approach to managing nematodes as a biological way to stop a crop problem. Biological approaches are a new wave of agriculture technology we'll all be hearing more about.

However, the crop protection companies note that well-researched chemistry is still at the core of what they offer the market. But pests are changing and the needs of farmers around the world are changing too. Add in that biological research is getting more advanced and it appears you may be considering more interesting products for the future to control diseases and pests for your crop.

In this week's announcement, FMC points to its success with Nemix C, a product to help boost sugar cane yield through enhanced root development and protection - it's a biological product.

Think about how we talk about plant production these days. We are more concerned with the biological life of the crop plant than ever before - it’s a different approach to agriculture technology. The rise of strobilurin fungicides, which have their own kind of biological impact as they keep plants greener longer, has shown farmers that more is going on in the field than anyone first thought.

Crop protection products have been a key part of producing top-yielding crops, and while they're here to stay the rise of biological approaches to boost yield and enhance productivity are the focus of these major manufacturers.

A cynic would say these companies have to look to biological because of environmental pressure, but it's more than that. We know more today about molecular design and activity. We understand plants at a genetic level in ways we never did. And we'll be deploying new technologies in ways that could surprise us all.

We have pests that eat into profits every year. The soybean cyst nematode is just one you can think of off the top of your head. But look at how inoculants boost soybean yields as Becker Underwood and Novozymes proves every season.

We're entering a new world of science with biological. We understand the systemic acquired resistance in plants that help them beat back pests and disease and we're learning new ways to turn on that response too. It's tricks like that along with a host of others that will change the way we boost yield.

Yet you'll still also rely on a heady list of proven crop protection products that will be the foundation of your operation. I get a feeling from the announcements lately that these companies are just getting warmed up. And it's going to be fun to be along for the ride.

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