Monsanto, The BioAg Alliance, and Novozyme have announced an updated research and development pipeline to improve crop harvests through products containing naturally-occurring microbes.
Among the highlights is the Corn BioYield 2 project, which advanced to Phase 4 (pre-commercial) in The BioAg Alliance R&D pipeline and is expected to be branded as Acceleron B-360 ST, pending regulatory approvals. Acceleron B-360 ST promotes symbiosis between microbes and corn plants to strengthen root systems and increase plants’ access to nutrients. Acceleron B-360 ST will be used in combination with the successful Acceleron B-300 SAT, which was introduced in 2017 and used by U.S. farmers on more than 4 million corn acres in its first year. Acceleron B-300 SAT is expected to be applied to between 8-10 million acres in 2018, while Acceleron B-360 ST is scheduled to enter the market in 2019.
Biological seed treatments such as Acceleron B-300 SAT help plants build healthy root systems, which enable more efficient uptake of nutrients into the plant. The increase in nutrient uptake results in a decrease in the release of those nutrients into the environment, either via runoff into water supplies or into the air. The increases in plant biomass can help to sequester carbon into the soil, particularly in microbes that promote root development. The result is pulling carbon dioxide out of the air and storing it in the soil.
The BioAg Alliance also announced the achievement of a significant milestone in the Corn BioYield 3 project. Over the past four years, researchers have screened thousands of microbes across multiple sites to find out which microbes deliver the highest increase in crop yield. A small group of top performers have now been selected for commercial evaluation and development.
“The BioAg Alliance sets a very high bar for success through a challenging and unique field testing program where microbes are selected by consistently outperforming thousands of other microbes in real application conditions across several years and in diverse environments,” says Tom Adams, Monsanto Vice President of Global Biotechnology. “Our field testing program is not only generating novel product leads, but also providing insight into microbe and environment relationships, which will help lead to precision agriculture solutions in the future.”
Projects in the soy pipeline also progressed. The Soy BioYield 2 project is expected to lead to a product for the North American market and a product for South America. Both products contain bacteria that increase soybeans’ uptake of nitrogen leading to improved plant health and more bountiful harvests. The Soy BioNematicide project is researching a new biological way to control soybean cyst nematodes, a parasitic roundworm that attacks the roots of soybeans and is a devastating pest worldwide causing stunted growth and severe loss of yield. The project has now shown efficacy for four consecutive years.
“Nature’s toolbox of beneficial bacteria and fungi can help us produce healthier crops with higher yields while reducing the need for fertilizer and other chemicals,” says Ejner Bech Jensen, Novozymes’ Vice President for BioAg Research. “Our understanding of microbes and their symbiotic relationships with plants is evolving rapidly, and we have exciting products coming to market over the coming years in both the bioyield and biocontrol segments.”
The BioAg Alliance biological products are derived from naturally-occurring microbes such as bacteria and fungi. The Alliance aims to produce bioyield products, which help plants with nutrient uptake, and biocontrol products, which help protect plants against pests and diseases. The products can be applied to seeds before planting, to soil in-furrow, or to growing crops. They can be used by farmers that grow broad-acre crops such as corn and soy, and on fruits and vegetables. Microbial products can increase crop yields and complement or replace agricultural chemicals and fertilizers, while helping farmers reduce the amount of CO2 produced from their land.