Jul. 20, 2018
Today we are talking with José Nolasco, Strategy and Innovation director at Tradecorp, in relation to the presentation of IsliFe 8.2, Tradecorp’s new biodegradable chelate. Tradecorp is a benchmark company in the industry of agricultural chelates, especially in the Fe-EDDHA market, where Tradecorp handles one of the flagship products, Ultraferro.
With the launch of this new chelating agent, the company is strongly investing in a growing market: the market for biodegradable and organic products. In our interview with José Nolasco, we asked him not only about this new product, but also about the company's strategy and position towards this growing niche of the market.
Question - Despite the prediction that the agricultural chelates market would grow exponentially until reaching 825.4 million dollars in 2025[ Global Agricultural Chelates Market Analysis & Trends – Industry Forecast to 2025], in recent years we have experienced an evolution of the agricultural market, which, to a large extent, has laid the foreground for biostimulants, with multiple companies working and focusing on the new business. Tradecorp seemed to have followed this same general trend in the market. For example, being a founding member of EBIC, the acquisition of companies such as OGT and investing in scientific research; such as the collaboration with Queen's University. However, Tradecorp has traditionally been a chelating company and has identified itself as a benchmark in these types of products. Why is Tradecorp going back to the origins and investing in the research of chelates?
Answer.- It is not that we are investing in chelates’ research again, we have never stopped considering this part of our business as a priority and strategic. In fact, IsliFe 8.2 is the result of intense work in agronomic, chemical and industrial research that has been carried out for years.
Tradecorp has always worked to be in a leading position within the chelate market. An example of this can be seen in the recent investments in our EDDHA synthesis factory. With the environmental objective of reducing energy consumption, the renovation of the facilities in Ávila (Spain) has allowed us to increase our EDDHA synthesis capacity by more than 30%.
Undoubtedly, the trend in agriculture is to be able to produce efficiently, profitably and sustainably. Sustainability is a key factor that guarantees the future of food production worldwide, with a clear focus towards a lower environmental impact. This is why IsliFe 8.2 is the answer to the need of the agricultural sector to have efficient solutions with low environmental impact.
Q. – You mentioned that there is a clear trend to move towards more efficient, profitable products that have a lower environmental impact. Tradecorp already has a fairly comprehensive catalog of products suitable for Organic Agriculture. However, with this new chelate, your company is opening the door to the biodegradable chelates sector. Is it a priority for Tradecorp to develop this segment in the future? Right now you are presenting this new iron chelate, can we expect a new range of biodegradable chelates?
A. - As I have previously mentioned, agriculture is showing a trend towards sustainable products and solutions. The production of healthy foods for a growing population is a huge challenge that cannot be carried out solely upon thinking how to produce more per hectare. Society as well as the consumer are no longer willing to tolerate an environmental impact that is currently considered unacceptable.
The market opportunities are now immense. In today’s world, when our children and families go to a retailer to buy fruits and vegetables, they are no longer only looking for color, flavor, textures... today they look for food security and respect for the environment. It is an unstoppable trend that will change agriculture as we know it today.
Tradecorp’s priority is not only to work in the sector of organic products, but also to develop complete, highly efficient solutions with low environmental impact. This is why the development of biodegradable products is a clear opportunity.
Q. – Talking about biodegradable chelates, there is already a range of biodegradable chelates marketed by different companies over several years. How is IsliFe 8.2, the new Tradecorp biodegradable iron chelate, different from these other biodegradable products?
A. - In chelates, an important factor in its handling in the field and that has a great impact on its effectiveness is its stability at different pH ranges. Currently, the main biodegradable Fe chelates available on the market show a stability of up to a pH close to 7. They are not stable under alkalinity conditions and, therefore, not able to correct iron chlorosis under these conditions. This is one of the key factors of IsliFe 8.2: it is the first biodegradable Fe chelate that is stable under alkalinity conditions. This allows us to offer the sector a biodegradable chelate that is highly efficient in a great variety of soils, including those with high pH conditions.
IsliFe 8.2 is stable in a pH range between 3 and 11. This makes it an ideal solution for the prevention and correction of iron deficiencies in extreme pH conditions. It is the only biodegradable chelate on the market that is effective in alkaline soils. Therefore, this is a key factor of the product; but it is certainly important to note that IsliFe 8.2 has been designed to offer a "progressive biodegradability" that gives it a highly efficient behavior in the field.
Q. - With what you have told us about IsliFe 8.2, we understand that the product is very similar to the EDDHA of iron. However, you have mentioned the new concept, "progressive biodegradability". What is "progressive biodegradability"? What benefits does it entail?
A.- An unprotected micronutrient in the soil undergoes important interactions when reacting with phosphates and hydroxides, among other factors. This produces its precipitation and, consequently, becomes unavailable for the plant. The risk of the micronutrient fixation in the soil reduces the efficiency of the nutrient.
The function of a high efficiency chelate is to feed the plant, not just to feed the soil. This is directly related to the ability of the chelate to protect the micronutrient and facilitate its release and assimilation by the plant.
Some biodegradable chelates have shown one limitation: their biodegradability is too fast. This is a key factor to be considered. If the molecule degrades too quickly, all the benefits of chelates (which I was commenting earlier) are lost, and, as a consequence, they lose effectiveness. This is especially important in crops with distant applications, such as citrus.
IsliFe 8.2 has been designed to develop a progressive biodegradability, which allows for a low environmental impact, thanks to its degradation, and a high persistence, as it gradually degrades throughout the crop cycle.
Q. - Finally, I wanted to comment with you about the future of the company. We have recently seen in the media that Sapec Agro Business has acquired Idai Nature, a specialist in biopesticides and recognized for its zero residue solutions. In the media, it was also mentioned that, with the acquisition, "the group is positioned as the most prepared company to lead the new global concept of Zero Residue agriculture". Will the group's strategy focus on leading sustainable agriculture? Can we expect more similar acquisitions from Tradecorp or Sapec Agro Business?
A.- No doubt our group has always shown a strong commitment to sustainable and ecological agriculture. We have a wide range of products that are suitable for organic farming; approved by OMRI and ECOCERT, along with others.
As I have previously commented, the global trend towards more sustainable agriculture is clear. It is an unstoppable trend with which our Group is strongly committed, with the aim of being a world leader in clean, sustainable and ecological agriculture. Proof of this strong commitment, as you commented, is the acquisition of Idai Nature by Sapec Agro business through Tradecorp.
Our international strategy is to position the Group as the global company prepared to lead the new global concept of "Zero Residue” agriculture, by offering integrated solutions to producers and supermarkets for harvests free of chemical residues. We synergistically include, as a group, the four areas of technological requirements to achieve this: top quality agrochemical products with a low toxicological profile, precision biostimulants, specialty nutritional products and natural biopesticides that are harmless for the applicator, the consumer and the environment.