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AgriThority: Constantly strengthens market access service capacity of new agricultural technologiesqrcode

Jan. 24, 2018

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Jan. 24, 2018
Editor’s Note:“AgriThority is active in the industry to stay cognizant of the technologies and production practices advancing global agriculture. Our interest, looking forward, is in evaluating how to incorporate new technologies with the proven products already used by growers around the world,” said Jerry Duff, founder and president, AgriThority, in a recent interview with AgroPages. Jerry Duff, and Marco Toapanta, Ph.D., director – science & technology, AgriThority shared their views on the major operational highlights, strategic and primary influences on the sales performance of the company, and its future development plans, as well as the impact of merger and acquisitions (M&As) and consolidations in the agricultural industry.

1. Could you please briefly introduce your company’s business?

By Jerry Duff, Founder & President, AgriThority

AgriThority® is an agricultural science consultancy, accelerating new technologies to commercialization in markets around the world. Founded in 2008, AgriThority has guided more than 100 companies, ranging from new start-up technology ventures to multi-national basic manufacturers. We have completed more than 800 projects globally, including many in the synthetic and biological crop protection and seed treatment sectors.

Our expertise in crop and animal agriculture, horticulture, and allied industries allows us to fill gaps in our clients’ product development process and introduce their technologies to target markets. Services from the AgriThority Science Division advance product development with solid strategic planning, scientific trials and thorough analysis. Our Market Access services identify opportunities where new technologies impact and advance agriculture practices for more sustainable production.

2. What are the major factors that have affected your company's performance in 2017 and what measures are being taken to address them?

By Marco Toapanta, Ph.D., Director – Science & Technology, AgriThority

Each project has a unique set of challenges we must address. The most common obstacle we encounter with clients is time. A delayed project approval or expedited timeline limits the AgriThority development process, and reduces project efficiencies. A lack of timely commitments is most detrimental to field trial design, planning and implementation. Early planning allows AgriThority to evaluate more than 300 field locations we work with, to select options most relevant to the climate, and environmental stresses the project objective seeks to achieve. A late commitment not only puts the best field location at risk, but also raises costs, as the short notice increases fees to approve product regulations, deliver trial supplies, and reserve field locations.

AgriThority has resolved these challenges with a fully developed counter season trial program. Our Latin America research group, with trial experience in synthetic and biological products, provides companies a second season to accelerate and advance their product development. This not only allows companies another trial season, it provides companies an opportunity to strengthen their data in a year, and expedite their product development timeline. Furthermore, AgriThority provides early development programs, including greenhouse and lab testing to evaluate technologies in a controlled environment, using advanced evaluation tools. These technologies include, but are not limited to soil characterization tools to generate custom soil maps, root and nodulation biomass tools, such as WinRHIZO, to determine effects of active ingredients in seedlings, farm imaging using drones, sensors, and software to determine plant physiological responses.

3. Could you please share with us some major operational highlights/ activities of your company and relevant strategic significance in 2017? 

By Marco Toapanta, Ph.D., Director – Science & Technology, AgriThority

In addition to normal activities in our core competencies, some other activities of AgriThority in 2017 include the active role in many US and global professional associations. These associations include all aspects of crop production, from genetics to crop protection and crop nutrition management. The agriculture technology market is continuously advancing with new applications and improved formulations of established products, and novel technologies to increase crop production. AgriThority takes an active role in those associations to remain on the leading edge of these technologies. In 2017, AgriThority acquired greater knowledge of biological technologies, including biostimulants and biofertilizers. We are members of the Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) and attended the alliance’s Biocontrols Conference, as well as AgBio Innovate LATAM, and recently the 3rd Biostimulants World Congress. In addition, AgriThority is a member of the Entomological Society of America and American Phytopathological Society. These affiliations have generated relationships with fellow leaders in the industry, and allow us to advance our expertise in the testing, evaluation and development of biological products.

Crop genetics are a developing area of focus for AgriThority. Technology advancements in gene editing are improving plant breeding. Small changes are boosting the plant’s natural performance to increase its resistance to stressors and augmenting its ability to process nutrients. AgriThority has experience to address regulatory concerns associated with crops that have been genetically altered.

For 2017 and beyond, AgriThority is leading the effective evaluation of innovative technologies, including biologicals, biostimulants and micronutrients, and their impact on the early stages of crop development to better understand their effect on crop establishment and grain yield.

4. What do you think of the M&As and high consolidation of the agri-input industry in 2017?

By Jerry Duff, Founder & President, AgriThority

Global agriculture is facing a monumental challenge in producing a secure food supply for a growing world population. Experts say we must increase agricultural productivity by 60 percent to feed the expected growth in population from 7 billion now to 10 billion people by 2050. 

Innovative production practices have long been the key to growers achieving ever-higher yields.  The improved seed varieties and production techniques come from a growing number of scientific sources, which are facilitated by advanced data analyses and management systems. Large multi-national companies with state-of-the-art equipment and top R&D teams are leading new product development. But, in the midst of consolidation, there is a proliferation of start-up technology companies providing for niche markets and introducing technologies larger companies don’t have time to explore. AgriThority works alongside companies of all sizes to build on their internal research capabilities.

Several of the top production agriculture companies have evolved recently through new ownership and mergers or acquisitions. We believe this strengthens the industry. An example is the proposed acquisition of America’s Monsanto by Germany-based Bayer. The two companies already are leaders in agricultural research and innovation, with hundreds of products that have revolutionized agriculture over recent decades.

They plan for their combined R&D portfolio – an astounding $2.9 billion annual endeavor – to have exceptional depth and reach, with enormous commercial potential. Between them, the merged companies have 10,000 research and development professionals working around the globe at more than 40 R&D facilities, and at 200 breeding stations devoted to improving not only crop yields but also the health of farm animals.

Innovation in the industry will continue as discoveries emerge from these newly formed companies, as well as partnerships and collaborations among companies with complementary resources. AgriThority will serve as a reliable, independent source of consistency as companies realign. We will continue to fill gaps in their development process and have an integral role in supporting the development of tomorrow’s food, feed, fiber and fuels around the world.

5. Could you please talk about the development planning and the future vision of your company?

By Jerry Duff, Founder & President, AgriThority

AgriThority is active in the industry to stay cognizant of the technologies and production practices advancing global agriculture. Our interest, looking forward, is in evaluating how to incorporate new technologies with the proven products already used by growers around the world. These integrations occur in seed loading, combining new and established treatments to the same seed, as well as in foliar applications. We must consider how these technologies affect each other as they share space on the seed. Another area under evaluation is the effectiveness of biological and synthetic chemistries when used together. New biologicals entering the market have environmental benefits and provide a substitute for products that may be developing resistance issues. We must consider how these products affect the overarching crop protection program, and how biologicals can be used in conjunction with traditional products already proven in each market.

The application of new evaluation tools entering the marketplace is also elevating AgriThority product development programs. These products generate more frequent data points or provide an additional layer of data. This information can be used to determine if a product is effective, but also tell us when its application is most beneficial to the crop. AgriThority applies these new sensing and precision agriculture tools in the field and at the lab to generate more comprehensive data analysis, which help clients develop a strategy to accelerate their technologies to commercialization.

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