The 3rd Biopesticides, Biostimulants and Novel Fertilizers Asian Summit (2022BioEx) was held in Hangzhou of China on March 6 and 7, 2022, and attracted more than 250 participants from more than 160 companies worldwide.
The event was organized by AgroPages, and co-organized by Jiangshu Kesheng Group, Moon (Guangzhou) Biotech Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Sega Science and Technology Co., Ltd and Beijing Leili Marine Bioindustry Inc., with considerable support from Bangan Biological (Qingdao) Co., Ltd, Sichuan Lomon Bio Technology Co., Ltd., Xian Tbio Crop Science Co., Ltd, Ningbo Generic Chemical Co., Ltd., Beijing Agri-Innov Technology Co., Ltd., Pherobio Technology Co., Ltd., Hangzhou Agriat Trading Co., Ltd., Qingdao Jingling Ocean Biotechnology Group and AlgaEnergy, and assistance from Xian Citymax Agrochemical Co., Ltd., Knoell Germany GmbH, Gowan Company, LLC, FMC and Novozymes.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, many overseas audiences cannot attend BioEx 2022 at the scene, but hope to obtain conference materials (including presentation video, slides, etc.) in some way. We here open up Virtual Participation of BioEx 2022. One can log on to the conference link we provided to watch all the presentation online after the presential summit (Virtual Participation is going to opening on 15th March,2022).
In recent years, the agricultural biologicals industry, including biopesticides, biostimulants and novel fertilizers, is increasingly becoming a focus of public attention. It is regarded as an industry with significant potential profitability and bright prospects by many traditional agrochemical companies, venture capital institutions, channel dealers and growers. In the context of the currently great changes unseen in a century and the combined impact of the COVID-19, 2022BioEx successfully brought together players from various chains of the bio-agricultural industry to discuss and share their views on the broad blueprint for the future development of bio-agriculture.
Lu Jianfei, Director of Plant Protection Quarantine and Pesticide Management Station of Zhejiang Province, delivered the opening speech for the summit, saying that Zhejiang has always adhered to the concept of “Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” and actively explored the reduction of pesticides and the increase of efficiency, especially the reduction of chemical pesticides and the promotion of biopesticides. He said that with the support of national policies, there is no doubt that the biopesticide sector will be provided a new round of development opportunities.
Wang Fengle, Chief Expert of the National Agro-Tech Extension and Service Center (NATEC), shared a report titled The Development of Biopesticides in China and the Interpretation of the "Agriculture Green Development Plan", that offered a detailed introduction to the registration and management methods of biopesticides, the status quo of registered products and the marketing and application of biopesticides in China. In his opinion, one of the reasons leading to biopesticides’ high fame but low application rate is that there are problems in the value and use of products themselves. There are certain limitations on using products, including ecological, climatic and microbial. The other reason is the biopesticide market management. The product quality has improved rapidly in the past few years, but it is derived from adding some ingredients, which might lead to quality problems. But now, through rational use, the quality and conformity of biopesticides will be continuously enhanced without adding ingredients.
How does one choose a plant biostimulant, and determine the quality of a product and the purpose? It is always difficult for users to make a choice. Patrick du Jardin, Professor of Plant Biology from the University of Liège, Belgium, expressed his views on these issues, stressing that growers should choose biostimulants according to the growing effect they want to achieve, so that they can verify the claimed functions of a product. Biostimulant products are NOT one-size-fits-all solutions, and such a solution does not exist. The functions of a solution need to be supported by data and scientific facts. Data should be collected based o recognized standards. This is an important conclusion and a principle for choosing the right biostimulants. Professor Patrick du Jardin proposes the following criteria for choosing biostimulants: 1) The main bioactives are known and quality control allows to standardize composition and activity; 2) Technical specifications on the intended uses (rates and times of application, combinations with other inputs) are supported by data; and 3) The claimed agricultural functions translate into measurable outputs and data indicating biostimulation are available for the relevant crops.
Duan Haiguang, Vice President and General Manager of International Marketing Centre, Beijing Leili Marine Bioindustry Inc., introduced the development prospect of biostimulants in China and their role in improving the quality of agriculture mainly in development history, main efficacy and application prospect of biostimulants. He pointed out that there are currently two main development directions. One is a biostimulant as a single product with a single efficacy. The other is that biostimulants can be used as a formulated product. A small package of different biostimulants can solve certain problems related to crop or root, foliar nutrition, etc. A further large space is to combine biostimulants with traditional chemical fertilizers and pesticides to generate a synergistic effect.
Dr. Piyatida (Tung) Pukclai, Asia-Pacific BD & Regulatory Policy Director, Knoell Germany GmbH, introduced the regulatory policies, registration dossier requirements, market opportunities and registration hurdles of biological products in Southeast Asian countries. She pointed out that a major challenge for registration in this region is that biostimulants are classified as chemical fertilizers in some countries and not in others. The fact of policies varying with different countries requires enterprises to check each country’s current regulations and policies before applying for registration for their product functions and active ingredients. In her opinion, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam should be the market for biostimulants, and the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia for biopesticides.
Dr. Subhendu Ganguly, Head of Asia Pacific, Gowan Crop Protection UK, who has rich experience in developing the biopesticide market in Southeast Asia, shared with the participants some of the problems he has encountered in developing the market in this region. According to him, the biggest challenge was that, after his company has invested a lot and successfully launching a strain of Bacillus subtilis or Trichoderma harzianum, many local companies would crank out another product that was either a non-pesticide product, or a pesticide with very low fungicidal activity or just a chemical fertilizer-grade strain. This poses a challenge in terms of price and can eventually cause farmers to lose their trust in such products. Another challenge is providing a full set of product data and compliance with GLP standards to meet registration requirements. Other challenges include some microbial fungicides that need to be transported in refrigerated containers and stored in warehouses and retail stores with refrigeration conditions.
In response to a reader’s question on what the distribution channel/structure of biopesticides is like, Subhendu replied that the market for biopesticides is the same as that of chemical pesticides. It is difficult to market biopesticides in the chemical pesticide market just by relying on their product advantages, as biopesticide companies may not have sufficient resources.
Jiang Xianzhi, Founder and Chairman of Moon (Guangzhou) Biotech Co., Ltd., introduced the industry status and the future trend of the agricultural microbiome and the company’s efforts in recent years. He said that the microbiome has upgraded from a technological change to an industrial revolution, and microbiome technology has become a hotspot for industrial investment at home and abroad. The fact of marketing in preference to research and development currently in China is attributable to the unavailability of funds and lack of investment. He stressed that mastering core technologies is very important for production-oriented enterprises, such as core strain resources, biological screening technology, fermentation production process and formulation development. Many enterprises are making products without differentiation, which may have different formulas, but the source is the same. Moon has established a leading technology platform for microbiome discovery and industrialization, where it does only four things: discover, screen, modify and apply microbes, and has so far collected and preserved over 150,000 strains with different functions. In addition, the company has launched several products on the market, including the first generation of the Trichoderma harzianum product, which has a shelf life of 18 months at room temperature or 35 degrees Celsius, in contrast to 3-5 months of similar products in China.
Cui Genzhong, Chairman of Pherobio Technology Co., Ltd., introduced mainly the basic situation and some cases of insect pheromone and plant pheromone applications. He said that VDAL, a product jointly developed by Pherobio and China Agricultural University, is a protein extracted from cotton Verticillium dahliae, which is somewhat different from the commonly known biostimulants. VDAL has a very clear structure consisting of 297 amino acids. It is a coded protein, also called a signaling substance in plants or plant pheromone, produced through the fermentation of bioengineered bacteria. VDAL has a precise mechanism of action and multiple effects such as greatly improving plant immunity, yield and quality by regulating plant sugar metabolism, hormone balance and disease resistance signal pathway. VDAL can be combined with fertilizers to promote the absorption and utilization of nutrients by crops, or used with fungicides to induce disease and stress resistance in crops, promote sprouting and root growth, increase yield and improve quality. Cui Genzhong said that there are many more applications to be explored for VDAL, and Pherobio is looking forward to working with partners in development and registration to make more contributions to the development of quality agriculture!
What are the challenges and key points in promoting biological products in the Chinese market? Yang Sen, General Manager Assistant, AMP Jintai International, expressed his views based on years of promotion experience. He summarized the challenges as follows: 1) poor sales due to poor publicity; 2) long education and guidance cycle costs a lot with unsatisfactory outcomes; 3) slow effect, high cost and instability; 4) inaccurate positioning, few professional promotion teams, and lack of in-depth promotion of crop-oriented application technologies; 5) less use of promotion tools and few customers served correctly; and 6) internal performance-styled promotion. Yang Sen’s solution to better promote biological products is a brand-based method and a more integrated promotion of biopesticides, fertilizers and biostimulants. The key is to discover these value chains and then establish an ecological chain that can function. Besides, as biological products feature high selectivity, it is necessary to choose the right people, multi-point service, and channel selection.
Tong Leiting, Director of Industrial Products, Xian TBIO Crop Science Co., Ltd, explained about “The intervention to crop growth of functional polypeptide PY91”. As an upstream product of amino acids, peptides are increasingly used and valued for their unique properties. Many multinationals have taken polypeptides as pioneers for their presence in biological formulation sector. Polypeptides have excellent performance in stress resistance, growth promotion and disease control. Based on a detailed analysis of polypeptides from various different material sources, TBIO has identified the optimal polypeptide chain with the most suitable molecular weight ratio by enzymatic hydrolysis of natural proteins to form PY91, a formulated polypeptide. The screening in the early stage and functional verification in the later stage prove that the growth promotion by PY91 is mainly achieved by stimulating the crop-related genetic expression, regulating endogenous crop hormones and promoting nutrient assimilation. PY91 has a wide range of application scenarios, including use in combination with NPK and meso or micro-elements such as Ca and Mg, or with pesticides to produce synergistic effect. In addition, TBIO has accumulated some data on synergistic use with systemic pesticides and fungicides. Next, TBIO will release research articles on biostimulants through AgroPages.
Zhang Taihong, General Manager of Bangan Biological (Qingdao) Co., Ltd, introduced the research and application of marine mudflat microorganisms in agriculture at the summit. He said that Bangan Biological is committed to discovering the functional strains and metabolites that can solve soil salinization and difficult-to-control diseases and pests in the field based on the diversity of microorganisms from Suaeda salsa and their agricultural activity potential. The company has identified and registered 285 “biocontrol” fungal strains and 78 bacterial/actinomycelial strains. Zhang highlighted rooting products based on marine mudflat microorganisms have the following benefits: first, microorganisms of marine origin can survive in common saline-alkali soil; second, such microorganisms can take advantage of the salinity in the soil and reduce the soil salinity so that roots can have a comfortable environment; third, rooting based on microorganisms is sustainable. At the summit, the company announced the introduction of Bangan Tianpeng S6, a product combining two patented strains derived from marine mudflats, which can be used to control root-knot nematodes and common soil-borne diseases in cash crops such as melons, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Zhang Zhenhai, National Base Plant Protection Manager, Shenzhen Chengwu Gold Rock Agriculture Limited, was invited to introduce the application of biological products in planting bases in recent years. According to him, the company has 15 farms in five regions across the country and relies mainly on biological products in the planting process. The number of biopesticide categories developed and used by the company increases yearly, from 21 in 2019 to 31 in 2021, covering 54 products from 25 biopesticide companies. The amount of biopesticides used on the company’s farms increased by over 200% from 2019 to 2020. The commonly used biopesticides mainly includes four categories: microbial source, botanical source formulations, insect pheromone class, and others, of which botanical source accounts for over 80% and microbial source for 12 to 15%. The use of insect pheromones is increasing year by year. In terms of application effect, he said that Mamestra brassicae multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (MbMNPV) diluted at a ratio of 1:500~1000 and used for 1~2 years will have stable performance, and the effect of Multigrass’ rotenone diluted at a ratio of 1:500 is also satisfactory. He especially pointed out that aphids, a challenge in organic vegetable growing, can be controlled with pesticides such as matrine.
Dr. Douglas Ry Wagner, President of Agricultural Business, and Sun Pengtao, Country Manager for China, AlgaEnergy, presented the company’s unique microalgae products at the summit. According to Douglas, AlgaEnergy’s special amino acid-based microalgae biostimulants contain various amino acids that can greatly increase crop productivity. Trials on various crops in several regions have shown that microalgae biostimulants can increase the average yield of monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants by more than 8%. Over 70% of the trials demonstrated that the yields increased by more than 7%. Douglas also introduced the mechanism of action of microalgal biostimulants in increasing soil diversity and promoting plant nitrogen uptake and other effects. Sun Pengtao added that microalgae contain 15 times more protein than seaweed, completely different in terms of raw materials. AlgaEnergy’s microalgae product was registered in China in 2019, and the company is ready to work with partners to promote the development and application of microalgae in the field of biostimulants.
Zhao Zongchao, Marketing Department, Ningbo Generic Chemical Co., Ltd., shared the problems they encountered and their principles for seeking biological products from the perspective of a trading company. According to Zhao, biostimulants are advantageous for trading companies in the following aspects: first, the registration cost in time and expense is relatively low, and various countries welcome biostimulants; second, the competition in price is relatively weak, which implies that the price competitors involved are basically the top global players who have high product pricing, which are different from their usual cost pricing and therefore give them more room. Third, agrochemicals are still a bit wanting in improving the crop value, which, if in combination with biostimulants or nutritional solutions, can be improved and better product value can be created. In conclusion, Zhao Zongchao said that the company is looking for suppliers who can provide biological solutions for the following needs: biostimulant products + nutritional products + application technologies to control nematodes such as soybean cyst nematode and southern root-knot nematode, and to promote uniform color change in coffee; humic acid and seaweed products to manage root diseases and promote root nutrient absorption, and so on.
Wang Jianming, Director of Business Development Department, Dragonfly AGRI, Jiangshu Kesheng Group, introduced Dragonfly AGRI’s development history and operation mode at the summit. He said that Jiangsu Kesheng Group is mainly engaged in production and sales of technicals and formulations. The Group has vigorously promoted the Dragonfly AGRI model and cultivated service brands such as IElephant Biology and Agri Master Academy in recent years. Since its establishment in 2014, Dragonfly AGRI has positioned itself a provider of “pesticide + agri-services + training”. In 2021, the Group established Nanjing Dragonfly Wisdom Agricultural Research Institute Co., Ltd. in Nanjing National Agricultural High-Tech Industry Demonstration Zone, for building a green prevention and control demonstration base and undertaking the operation of IElephant Biology platform and intelligent agriculture. Under IElephant Biology, there are over ten biopesticide and biostimulant products, such as 20% spinosad and 5% amino-oligosaccharide.
Dr. Guigui Wan, Technical Development Lead, Agrochemicals at Ingevity, talked mainly about the sustainable development of Ingevity’s biological formulations. Ingevity is unique in using renewable wood raw materials to produce value-added products, and their two most critical raw materials are crude tall oil and hardwood sawdust. According to Guigui Wan, Ingevity offers an array of agricultural co-formulants, including, among others, ultra-pure biological, biodegradable dispersant AltasBio, sticker adjuvant AltaHance, natural solvent AltaSolv, and natural vegetable oil mixture AltaOil.
Dr. Li Wei, Market and Business Development Manager, Novozymes China, introduced Novozymes’ efforts in the sustainable development of agriculture. As a socially responsible company, Novozymes always regards sustainable development as its primary goal, and agricultural sustainability is one of the key areas of focus for Novozymes. At the summit, Dr. Li Wei first reviewed the stages of Novozymes’ bio-agricultural development and introduced some of the company’s main products, by mainly applying nitrogen fixation product Optimize on soybeans and phosphate solubilization fugus on corn as examples. He also presented the Life Cycle Assessment by Novozymes on applying biological products in agriculture to examine the positive impacts of related products on the environment and their contributions to sustainable agriculture. Dr. Li Wei stated that Novozymes will continue promoting sustainable agriculture and bringing more and better products to market.
Song Rong, Head of Plant Health Development, FMC China, introduced the strategic layout of FMC in the area of biological formulation, saying that FMC is dedicated to provide growers with integrated solutions of biological formulations, chemical pesticides and crop nutrients including NPK, meso- and microelements, and to maximize the synergy of biopesticides and chemical pesticides. She revealed that next year, FMC might launch Accudo, a Bacillus-based biostimulant product that will enhance root development and provide disease resistance, with better yield enhancement and extra-long shelf life of two years compared to competing products.
Xu Qi, Overseas Market Manager, Zhejiang Sega Science and Technology Co., Ltd, introduced some of Sega’s innovative achievements in the biological field, focusing on two microbial products: arbuscular mycorrhiza and T. asperellum + Bacillus amyloliquefaciens. Arbuscular mycorrhiza, represented by Sega Yibao, originates from the German process of intermediate culture and reproduction. It has a wide range of applications, and can be used on almost 90% of plants. Sega is the first company in China to achieve large-scale industrial production of arbuscular mycorrhiza. T. asperellum + Bacillus amyloliquefaciens is a trichoderma spore formulation through co-fermentation and co-culture of trichoderma spore and endophytic mycorrhizal fungi. It has the triple functions of biostimulant + biopesticide + biofertilizer by producing new antibacterial substances, growth-promoting substances and more than 20 kinds of secondary metabolites than single bacteria fermentation, and the representative product is SEGA-TBA.
As one of the important parts of the summit, a roundtable forum with the theme of “Facing various application situations, the experience of second positioning of biostimulants in China market” was held. The forum was chaired by Liang Xiaokun, Founder of Sichuan Agri-converge Technology Co., Ltd and attended by Derek Fang, General Manager of Varagro China, Tian Caojiang, General Manager of Hangzhou Agriat Trading Co., Ltd., Wang Wenbo, General Manager of Wuhan Noreight and President of UAF, and Wang Xiaochen, General Manager of Xian TBIO Crop Science Co., Ltd.
The four participants shared their views on why and how to carry out the secondary positioning of biostimulants from their respective perspectives. In the opinion of Wang Xiaochen, most biostimulant companies do not have a complete structure and cannot perform sufficient market research before product development, or the participants’ perceptions are limited by the original industry or are not mature enough. Therefore, they have no choice but to implement secondary positioning. As for how to carry out secondary positioning, he said there are commonalities and differences in the performance of some products in different environments or on different crops, which provides a wide range of space for the secondary positioning. He concluded that secondary positioning is also a very scientific process, and a unique selling point can be formed if the actual local situation and farmers’ requirements are considered in the process of positioning. Tian Caojiang shared that in Europe, the application scenario of biostimulants is actually to replace hormones, as many hormones are not allowed to be used in other countries. If there is a similar policy in China, some biostimulant solutions are also needed. His understanding of secondary positioning is a step-by-step process, which requires a lot of practice on the application side to find selling points and opportunities. Derek Fang’s view is similar to that of Professor Patrick du Jardin. His understanding of the secondary positioning is that biostimulant products are not a one-size-fits-all one, because the application scenarios they need to deal with, whether for rooting promotion or stress resistance, have been positioned before they are introduced to the market. In Wang Wenbo’s view, there is little room for competition in the market for elemental fertilizers, and increasing number of NPK fertilizer companies are also focusing on biostimulants. He pointed out that, to avoid the price of biostimulants dropping to the level of compound fertilizers, it is essential to persist in building brands.
Luca Bonini, President of the European Biostimulants Industry Council (EBIC) and CEO of Hello Nature, introduced the importance of biostimulants in reducing agricultural carbon emissions and promoting sustainable agriculture and what role they specifically play in his video presentation. He also shared his view on the global market feature, market drivers and prospects of microbial biostimulants. According to his prediction, the market for biostimulants is expected to reach US$2.1 billion by 2030.
Tarang Srivastava, Head of International Business, Certis Biologicals, began with a brief overview of the global biological plant protection market. He said that Europe is the leading market area, and Latin America (LATAM) and Asia are emerging markets proliferating. In LATAM, specialty crops are the largest consumer of biopesticides, however, soybeans are gaining adoption and a primary crop that could drive future growth. In Europe, grapes and vegetables are primary drivers, and initiatives such as Farm to Fork is driving the adoption of biopesticides besides their expanding use in row crops. He then introduced the new products to be launched in Asia and Europe to control nematodes, Colorado potato beetles, fall army worms and other pests and diseases.
María Luisa Lucas, Director of Global Public Relations, Symborg, spoke about the critical role of microorganisms in soil nitrogen management and nitrogen fixation technologies. She revealed that Symborg has more than 10,000 microbial strains from different regions of the world. Dr. Abed Chaudhury, an Australian-Bangladeshi Rice Expert, said it is necessary to create new varieties that are highly sensitive to biostimulants, which is what the Asian rice-growing industry needs to do.
This year witnesses the third anniversary of BioEx, which is a little different from the common theme of the previous two summits, which is to introduce new technologies and products from overseas. We selected the topics for BioEx presentations by knowing well the dynamic and changing needs of the market and listening to our member delegates and successfully attracting partners with all kinds of conditions. The composition of 2022BioEx participants features more inclusive and diversified across the entire upstream and downstream industry chain, including policymakers, investment institutions, domestic and international biological products companies, intermediate distribution and agri-services companies, and downstream base and agricultural product procurement. Hu Yi, CEO of AgroPages said in conclusion, “It is challenging to fight alone. We need to forge an upstream and downstream industry system so that we can do a good job!”
The end of 2022 BioEx signifies a new beginning. We look forward to seeing you all again at the BioEx next year!
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