Feb. 27, 2018
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI) and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd (Groundwork), completed the second year of successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological seed treatment for insect, nematode, and plant disease control, and increased plant health and yields.
The Biological Stacked Seed Treatment (BSST) is comprised of an insecticidal/nematicidal bacterium and a bacterium with fungicidal and plant health properties from MBI and biostimulant mycorrhizal fungi from Groundwork. Together, these synergistic microorganisms can provide a wide scope of benefits to growers, including crop yield increases, resilience under abiotic stress conditions, reduction of fertilizer requirements (especially phosphorus), and resistance to soil-dwelling pests and plant diseases.
Dr. Pam Marrone, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Marrone Bio Innovations, commented: “We are excited that the second year of trials confirmed and enhanced our previous field trials with our pesticidal bacteria. The addition of Groundwork’s mycorrhizae continue to enhance these microbes. We continue to believe that this project has significant potential in the seed treatment market across a broad range of crops. Additionally, BSST can meet an acute unaddressed need for the rapidly growing organic grain segment. Based on the consecutive-season BSST field results, we are confident that Groundwork and MBI have co-developed a pure-play biological product for growers and seed companies who want to protect their seeds from diseases such as SDS, Pythium and Rhizoctonia and underground pests—such as soybean cyst nematode (SCN), seed corn maggot and corn rootworm—with the added benefit of microbial biostimulants that increase plant resilience to abiotic stress and deliver higher crop yields.”
Dr. Yossi Kofman, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Groundwork BioAg, added: “Our Rootella™ product line is extremely cost-effective and has been proven to enhance yields of row crops, such as corn and soybean. Rootella is particularly effective under abiotic stress conditions, such as drought, flooding, acidity, or detrimental weather. The novel combination of Rootella with MBI’s biotic stress protection will simultaneously enhance yields and protect crops – and thus farmer’s return on investment. We believe BSST constitutes the first all-biological seed treatment able to effectively provide all of these benefits without the inclusion of synthetic pesticides.”
Corn and soybeans were tested in research trials in four Midwestern U.S. states (Corn: OH, IA, WI, NE; Soy: OH, IA, WI, IN). Corn studies tested for control of corn rootworm, seed corn maggot, nematodes and Pythium. Soybean studies tested against seed corn maggot, soybean cyst nematodes, and soybean seedling diseases, Pythium and Rhizoctonia. Additionally, two semi-commercial trials were conducted in KY on soybeans.
- BSST consistently reduced corn nematode counts (-47% on average) and soybean cyst nematode counts (-51% on average), similar to the commercial standards. Yield increases were 10-22 bushels more than the untreated in SCN trials (27-39%) depending on the dose rate and were comparable or slightly higher (on average) than the commercial standard. For corn nematodes, BSST yielded 29-36 bushels per acre higher (17-22%) than the untreated and were generally equivalent to the commercial standard.
- For corn rootworm trials, all BSST treatments (containing two or three microbes) significantly reduced corn rootworm damage ratings. Yield increases over the untreated ranged from 16 to 24 bushels per acre (8.5%-12.7%). The commercial standard (containing eight different chemicals) yielded 16.7% more on average but some BSST treatments were statistically equivalent.
- BSST containing two or three microbes also significantly improved plant stand in two of three seed corn maggot studies (19% in corn and 38% in soybean) and were comparable to the commercial standard (containing eight different chemicals) in two of three studies for stand and yield.
- A semi-commercial trial with two BSSTs in KY on soybeans resulted in 18% and 10% (11 and 6 bushels per acre) yield increases above the commercial standard.
- Groundwork’s Mycorrhizae alone often reduced the negative effects of corn rootworm, seed corn maggot and nematode feeding on crop yield, but not always to the same level as the full BSST stack containing the MBI’s bacteria on corn and soybeans.
BSST will be available for growers and seed companies for trials, with an initial launch planned during the coming 2018 upcoming planting season.
While industry estimates vary, the companies estimate the global seed treatment market was approximately $5 billion in 2017, and will grow at a compound annual rate of approximately 10% over the next five years. Insecticides currently hold the largest share of this market and the crop protection category is expected to be the fastest growing segment over the next several years.
The Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), a foundation that supports and encourages cooperation between Israeli and U.S. companies in various areas of technology, selected the collaboration between MBI and Groundwork for partial funding.