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Making High Quality and High Performance Biologicals to Increase Crop Productivity and Food Nutritional Content -- Interview with Bernardo Arnaud and Yuri Maggiqrcode

Sep. 15, 2022

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Sep. 15, 2022

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Bernardo Arnaud

Director of AMD AGRO & Co-founder and Chairman at Novatero BioAg


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Yuri Maggi

CEO of AMD AGRO & Co-founder and Operational Director at Novatero BioAg


In the ″2022 Seed Treatment Special″ magazine, published in June, AgroPages spoke with Bernardo Arnaud, a Brazilian agricultural entrepreneur with numerous firms about his seed treatment business. In the edition of the ″2022 Biological Special″ magazine, Bernardo Arnaud invited one of his entrepreneurial partners, Yuri Maggi, to discuss with AgroPages the development prospects of the Brazilian biological inputs market, their newly launched products and future product development plans, investment and cooperation trends, market expansion strategies and other topics.


Brazil has registered a lot of biological input products in the past two years. Could you please describe for us the current development of this industry in Brazil?


Bernardo Arnaud: Brazil is registering double digit compound growth in the biological inputs and biological protection products for a few years. Looking at the near future, if we speak about the global biological input market, it is expected to increase from USD 10.6 billion to USD 18.5 billion in 2026. This means 11.9% compound rate per year. In Brazil, it is expected to reach USD 740 million in 2030, according to market consultancy firms. Our view is that Brazil will reach USD 1 billion market size in 2028. 


Yuri Maggi: The government is supporting major programs for reducing the dependence of international fertilizers and we see the on-farm production becoming more popular with equipment like the mini-plant we created, the ″ContainerBio″ - already in use in dozens of farms.


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ContainerBio On-Farm Biological Production Equipment


What changes did you foresee in Brazilian agriculture that enlightens you to start your own business in this sector? 


Yuri Maggi: What we saw and keep seeing from the moment that I decided to get involved in the identification, research, development, production and commercialization of biological inputs is the fact that people are voluntarily looking for alternatives to eat better, while having less impact in the environment.


Which of your companies are involved in biological inputs? Please introduce their main business scope and scale.


Bernardo Arnaud: We have a few companies involved in biological inputs, among factories and distributors. Novatero BioAg and AMD AGRO are distributors and Inocular Biotecnologia and Biorosam are R&D centers and factories. Those are the ones covering more area and making a difference in the lives of most people. They are together treating around half a million hectares of crops, contributing to the sustainability and productivity in the Brazilian, African and European markets.


What challenges in agricultural production are the products you develop primarily addressing?


Bernardo Arnaud: Drought ″stop-loss″ and survival, rootzone microbiome strengthening and nutrients uptake efficacy. We need to increase not only productivity but also nutritional content in our food. It is not acceptable that we have legumes and grains bearing many times less nutritional content than the ones our grandparents used to eat. Besides that, we aim to clean the ecosystem by using biological materials that are already part of the major biomes in the world, thus making farmers use less and less options that pollute more.


What new biological products have you launched recently? Can you give us an example to explain the research and development process, the results of field trials and the commercialization of the product?


Bernardo Arnaud: We have launched the ″SC5″, a microbiological soil conditioner/improver, which is giving us exceptional results in areas strongly affected by drought in Brazil (already selling) and in Europe (finalizing tests in a few countries). Its results in comparison with the farm standard is giving farmers, in average 25% more biomass, 18,5% more nitrogen and 12,5% more phosphorous content in the plant, besides increasing the soil enzymatic activity in between 16 and 47%, depending on the crop. We have had results of 20% production increase in peanuts, 28% in yellow corn and 30% in black beans in average. 

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Field results of using SC5


Yuri Maggi: There is another product to be launched by the end of this year, and it has to do specifically with phosphorous solubilization and reverting soil degradation. I believe that it is better to describe it in a future opportunity. What I can say though, is that we are obtaining specific for yellow corn that has been giving us from 25 to 55% of increase in production, compared to standard crop management practices.


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Azospirillum brasiliense based product under registration, with 16 to 43% increase in grain production.


In July, Groundwork BioAg announced the acquisition of a stake in Novatero BioAg. How do you comment on this collaboration?


Yuri Maggi: It was a needed move in order to give total assurance to Brazilian farmers that our best-seller Rootella mycorrhizal inoculants will keep flowing in the market, in times where many fertilizer producers and distributors are facing supply issues.


Bernardo Arnaud: The purchase of a stake in Novatero BioAg - made by Groundwork BioAg - is the concretization of a closer cooperation already going on for a couple of years between both companies. We have been developing the Brazilian market together - designing ways of reaching even more farmers in shorter periods of time. And now we are stronger than ever, together.


What is the overseas market expansion plan of your biologicals business? What are your target markets? And why do you choose these regions as your target? 


Bernardo Arnaud: We are expanding into Europe and Africa, currently. We already have joint-ventures, branches and partners in the main markets in both continents. In 2023 we are launching products in Germany, France, Spain, Holland, Italy, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. Besides the fact that those countries have been suffering with heavy droughts, high prices of synthetic fertilizers and lack of raw materials, it is our mission to expand the production of high quality and high-performance biologicals, be it industrially or through on-farm production within farmers’ associations areas, based on our own production equipment and inocula.


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Bernardo Arnaud, director of AMD AGRO and Valentin Pitiot, head of market development at Kelp Blue.


We are continuously bringing new biological products partners aboard, like KELP BLUE, which produces Macrocystis pyrifera, the biggest seaweed species in the planet. The tests with wheat and other crops are highly promising and we will distribute their product in a few markets, like Brazil, Germany and Turkey.


Besides that, we will make KELP BLUE a part of some of our new products, because of its biostimulant effect and the presence of alginates, fucoidans and fucoxanthins with their anti-oxidant properties, just to name a few.

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Kelp Blue tests on mung beansTests on winter wheat


Based on your plan to expand into new overseas markets, how do you adjust the product formulation to adapt to different regional planting environments?


Yuri Maggi: Usually, we identify microorganisms that are the most adaptable to different soils and climates, among hundreds of options - depending on the main functionalities we are looking for. We do not have a special formula, though. We test again and again in different soils, climate and microbiomes, for each crop, and we finally decide where to launch first.



This article was initially published in AgroPages' '2022 Biologicals Special' magazine.


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