Biopesticide Development Can Lead to Innovative Crop Agents in the Agrochemical Market
Our burgeoning global population has placed pressure on food suppliers to boost crop production in order to ensure that people are kept fed and healthy. At first glance, a simple solution to this dilemma would be to plant more crops to keep pace with demand. Unfortunately, such a strategy would run into another problem almost immediately: an increasing population means fewer land resources. As a result, ramping up production isn’t a matter of planting more but rather improving the success and quality of our current crop yields.
In addition to limited land resources, attempts to increase our food supplies face another hurdle. People are increasingly concerned about the synthetic pesticides used to protect crops, with more governments passing legislation curtailing the use of chemical agents.1 To further complicate matters, more regulatory bodies are imposing maximum residue limits on imported crops, which puts further pressure on synthetic pesticide use.
Despite the pushback against synthetic chemicals, commercial farmers can’t simply abandon pesticides. Without their protective benefits, yields would drop significantly due to crops becoming susceptible to pests and diseases. How can the industry find a balance between these two opposing forces? With a better understanding of how synthetic chemicals are retained in food products—and, in turn, learning how individuals eating them are accumulating the substances—agrochemical companies would benefit from finding alternative agents in order to thrive in the present market. There remains no doubt that many opportunities exist despite current difficulties. Estimates say that the crop protection market is expected to reach $90.1 billion by 2022.2
Biopesticide Development Presents a Ripe Opportunity for Agrochemical Firms
The answer to this dilemma rests in an innovative area: biopesticide development. Unlike the synthetic crop agent sector, this relatively new arena is unsaturated and currently has less stringent approval requirements. Enterprising firms willing to venture into this area may find it easier to gain market advantage.
Biopesticides have many advantages over traditional pesticides:
- High specificity: Biopesticides are tailored to target specific pests or diseases. Because of this specificity, they are unlikely to affect non-harmful species in the surrounding environment, including humans and animals.
- Low toxicity: Because many biopesticides are derived from natural occurring substances, they act upon target pests via non-toxic mechanisms. Rather than the direct kill that characterizes synthetic compounds, biopesticides suppress pests over time such as interfering with reproduction.
- Effective in small quantities: Due to the highly specific nature of biopesticides, they’re effective in low concentrations. This has the added benefit of decreasing operator exposure.
- Environmentally friendly: Most biopesticides decompose quickly. This, in addition to their high specificity, makes them more eco-friendly than synthetic compounds. These traits help allay public fears about environmental impact and potential health effects.
- Less likely to develop resistance: Synthetic compound resistance presents a major problem in the agrochemical sector. With biopesticides, those worries are lessened, with species unlikely to evolve over time to gain resistances to multiple chemical agents as we often see with traditional pesticides today.
Biopesticide development opens a door to endless product innovation. Due to the high specificity, different agents must be developed for each pest or disease. But at the same time, other issues must be addressed. Firms will need to confirm the compatibility of mixed products so that agents aren’t inadvertently working against each other when treating crops. Organizations must also find methods to deliver the biopesticides to crop fields.3
The research processes and information acquisition involved in biopesticide development can be both overwhelming and unwieldy. To capitalize upon opportunities offered by this burgeoning sector, agrochemical firms must optimize efficiency throughout the entire R&D cycle. Areas they should focus upon include:
- Management of personnel and laboratory workflows in an increasingly global research environment.
- Presentation of data within its contextual environment to support consistent interpretations among collaborators.
- Integration of scientific and business processes to enable decision-makers to make informed choices about potential biopesticide candidates.
To address these areas, agrochemical companies can implement digital solutions that transition their research laboratories from outdated, paper-based platforms to modern, electronic ones. However, it is not enough to simply replace existing systems with paperless alternatives. In that scenario, organizations risk adding more inefficiency to the R&D cycle by introducing disjointed processes and incompatible software to their workflows. Instead, they should select an integrated solution that incorporates compatible systems and streamlines processes—which boosts the pace of innovation in the biopesticide sector.
Biopesticide development presents many opportunities for agrochemical companies to explore in order to garner advantage. To help their efforts, firms will need the right set of tools to manage the information necessary to develop successful beneficial crop agents. BIOVIA Chemicals Research and Development offers a complete suite of integrated processes that streamlines the R&D workflows involved in developing of highly specific agents that target pests and diseases. It supports collaboration between colleagues by utilizing electronic solutions to manage laboratory procedures and mine data for crucial insights. Virtual modeling allows researchers to screen potential candidates and identify the most promising for further development. And finally, it increases safety and compliance within your facilities with flexible tools. If your agrochemical firm is interested in pursuing the opportunities presented by the biopesticide market, please contact us today to learn more.
- “Strict government regulations drive demand for biopesticides,” July 8, 2014, http://www.agprofessional.com/news/Strict-government-regulations-drive-demand-for-biopesticides-266288931.html ↩
- “Crop Protection Chemicals Market To Grow At A CAGR Of 7.8% From 2015 To 2022: Grand View Research, Inc.,” April 4, 2016, http://www.econotimes.com/Crop-Protection-Chemicals-Market-To-Grow-At-A-CAGR-Of-78-From-2015-To-2022-Grand-View-Research-Inc-188645 ↩
- “Biopesticides vs. Conventional Pesticides: What’s the Difference?” July 10, 2015, http://www.battelle.org/media/the-battelle-insider/the-battelle-blog/2015/07/10/biopesticides-conventional-pesticides-what’s-the-difference ↩