Groundwork BioAg is a global bioagriculture company that provides its cost-effective mycorrhizal inoculants to mainstream agriculture to help increase yield while reducing the use of fertilizers, mitigating the effects of drought, and permanently sequestering carbon.
As part of its steady global expansion, Groundwork BioAg recently opened a representative office in China to serve one of the world’s leading agriculture markets. Accordingly, AgroPages interviewed Dr. Yossi Kofman, Co-founder and CEO at Groundwork BioAg over the strategic significance behind this expansion in China . During the interview, he also shared his views on Groundwork BioAg 's global presence and core competitiveness, its mycorrhizal inoculants Rootella® and special feature, the company’s R&D, technology,unique production capabilities and business model, as well as the market prospects of mycorrhizal inoculants.
Dr. Yossi Kofman
Co-founder and CEO at Groundwork BioAg
Can you introduce Groundwork BioAg, global presence and core competitiveness?
Groundwork BioAg is a global bioagriculture company that provides its cost-effective mycorrhizal inoculants to mainstream agriculture to help increase yield while reducing the use of fertilizers, mitigating the effects of drought, and permanently sequestering carbon. Our flagship product line - Rootella® - is based on naturally robust strains of mycorrhizal fungi that are symbiotic with 90% of plant species, offering the most efficient and effective solution to a diverse range of crops and growing areas.
In recent years, Groundwork BioAg established commercial operations across the world’s major breadbaskets, including the United States, Brazil, India, Canada, Europe, and Ukraine. In April 2022, Groundwork BioAg opened a representative office in China to serve one of the world’s leading agriculture markets, with approximately 127 million hectares of harvested farm cropland. Located in the city of Sanya in the agricultural hub of Hainan Province, the representative office will act as Groundwork BioAg’s business center for customers and partners across China. Mr. Shu Yang, an experienced manager in agriculture and biologicals, will lead the office.
Can you introduce Groundwork BioAg’s mycorrhizal inoculants Rootella®? What types of plants benefit from mycorrhizal fungi? How do mycorrhizal inoculants stimulate root growth and increase nutrient uptake?
Groundwork BioAg’s Rootella® product line sets the standard for quality, concentration, and predictability through our mass production technology and benefits most of the world’s crops used for food, feed, and fuel. As the “queen of biologicals” and the enabling fungi in healthy soils, mycorrhizae are uniquely able to underpin a healthy bio-platform and support resilient, stress-resistant plants with enhanced capacity for nutrient uptake under normal and drought conditions. This translates to greater in-field performance to help farmers grow more productive and resilient crops.
Rootella® products offer a range of benefits including improved soil fertility, better plant nutrient absorption, reduction of fertilizer, in particular phosphorus, and water requirements, improved plant durability under stress, and a positive overall environmental impact on each hectare.
Mycorrhizae – the symbiosis between helpful fungi (myco-) and plant roots (-rhiza) – have existed in nature for over 400 million years. By attaching themselves to root systems, mycorrhizae extend their reach, facilitating access to otherwise unavailable nutrients through symbiotic exchange. Originally, mycorrhizae drove the migration of the earliest plant ancestors from the seas to the soil. Today, naturally occurring mycorrhizae form a bio-platform of interconnecting pathways of thin fungal hyphae, weaving a foundation for soil fertility, plant resilience, and microbial life to flourish.
What are the challenges of producing mycorrhizal inoculants? Could you introduce Groundwork BioAg’s R&D, technology and production facilities and relevant capabilities of mycorrhizal inoculants?
While naturally occurring in the Earth’s soil, mycorrhizal fungi and other beneficial microbes have been destroyed by conventional farming, including tilling and over-fertilization. In the past, it was a challenge to reintroduce mycorrhizae to mainstream agriculture due to the difficulties in producing mycorrhiza inoculants in high volume products and reach the high concentration required for mainstream cultivation methods. Until recently, mycorrhizal products were trapped in a market niche due to these production challenges, which drove up costs and accessibility by most farmers.
Groundwork BioAg is the first mycorrhiza producer that can cost-effectively support the demands of large-scale mainstream agriculture thanks to its unique production capabilities.
Following 30 years of research and product development, Groundwork BioAg cracked the code on mass production of highly concentrated, cost-effective mycorrhizal inoculants to help farmers improve both yield and soil health and defend against drought. Based on strains isolated in the harsh Israeli desert, Groundwork BioAg’s products have been applied on more than one million acres in 2021.
To meet demand, last year we accelerated global production and expanded product formulations and application methods. Working with distribution partners around the world, we are helping to ensure that farmers everywhere can benefit from mycorrhizal inoculants.
How can mycorrhizal inoculants be used to give the best returns? Can the mycorrhizal inoculants be applied with other agri-inputs like pesticides etc.?
Biologicals are fast becoming an important component in the chase for yield, but these organisms also provide farmers another tool to employ more sustainable practices for broader returns. Because of the unique relationship between the plant and rhizosphere, mycorrhizae underpin fertilizers and other adjuvants in China’s rapidly growing biostimulant category. Our Rootella® product family, the foundation of our Mycorrhizal BioPlatform, offers broad choices so farmers can easily integrate an effective natural inoculant into this season’s planting regime, including applying with most seed treatments, pesticides or fertilizers.
In the last year, as phosphorus prices increased, farmers around the world have added biologicals to replace a significant portion of their chemical fertilizer use. While many biologicals provide a strong substitute to chemical fertilizers, including phosphorus, only mycorrhizal inoculants offer farmers an additional opportunity to increase climate resilience and access new revenue streams as a long-term strategic investment.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide, photosynthesized by plants and delivered into the soil through roots and mycorrhizae, is stored as carbon within the microbial ecosystem. Most carbon ends up in either mycorrhizal hyphae, incalcitrant glycoproteins, or other microbial necromass. At Groundwork BioAg, we are working with agribusinesses and farmers to help them permanently sequester carbon and weather the fertilizer shortage by adding mycorrhizal inoculants to their crop management plans.
In Brazil, for example, soybeans treated with mycorrhizal inoculants showed no signs of stress even after 20 days without rain – and delivered greater yield than untreated crops in a neighboring field. In fact, Brazilian corn hybrids’ yields increased between 8 to 39 percent, and grain productivity in commercial soybean cultivars increased between 5 to 22 percent during the last three seasons across several soil types and climatic conditions. Brazilian farmers using Rootella products were able to reduce their phosphorus use by 15 to 50%, enabling greater productivity, sustainability, and profitability. We are pleased to have established a representative office in China so we can help Chinese farmers achieve similar results in their farm’s overall productivity, profitability, and sustainability.
Before and after Brazil Soybean Field treated by GroundWork BioAg Rootella®
How does Groundwork BioAg operate its global business? What are the business model and criteria in choosing partners?
Over the past few years, we have focused on building production capacity to support millions of hectares and solidify our global presence in the main agricultural markets. Through partnerships with large, well-respected distributors across five continents, Groundwork BioAg is helping farmers improve the efficiency and profitability of major crop production, including corn, soybeans, rice, wheat and other grains, bio-energy crops, and vegetables. Through these agreements, we’ve been able to quickly scale our commercial business and meet the immediate demand for more sustainable bioagriculture products.
For instance, after being granted the only definitive commercial registration in Brazil, we have worked with our partner to meet the rapidly growing Brazilian market demand, where the biologicals category is projected to show a double-digit CAGR in the coming years. The Rootella® BR portfolio includes two of the most concentrated formulations of mycorrhizal inoculants on the market today, enabling farmers across Brazil to protect soil and plant health while extending above and below ground insurance against environmental stresses. In addition, with our new representative office in Sanya, we look forward to working alongside local partners to help Chinese farmers improve productivity and meet China’s food security and sustainability goals.
Could you share your insights on the market prospects of mycorrhizal inoculants in different regions globally?
Farmers around the world are looking for cost-effective, more natural ways to ensure the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of their farm operations. As the “queen of biologicals,” highly concentrated mycorrhizal inoculants enable all other innovations to ensure conventional growers around the world can regenerate their soil, permanently sequester carbon, and contribute to protecting our planet. Working with strategic partners in key agriculture markets, we are on the ground alongside our farmer customers to help them realize the full benefits of mycorrhizal inoculants. Through these partnerships, Groundwork BioAg is well-positioned to fulfill our mission of bringing mycorrhizae to mainstream global agriculture and helping farmers succeed while protecting our planet.
Groundwork BioAg recently expanded its global commercial business to China. What is the strategic significance behind this expansion? How does Groundwork BioAg’s entry into the Chinese market serve your vision for the company’s growth?
As part of our steady global expansion, we were pleased to open a representative office in China to serve one of the world’s leading agriculture markets. China is a cornerstone of our global business development plan and is critical to delivering on our promise to help reduce the impact of climate change while ensuring global food security.
The new business center will enable the company to help farmers enact China’s 14th Five-Year National Agriculture Green Development Plan. Announced in October of 2021, the Plan identified resource protection, pollution control, restoration of agricultural ecology, and the development of low-carbon agricultural industrial chains as key goals to be achieved by 2025. We look forward to helping Chinese farmers reduce the negative impact of synthetic fertilizers, particularly phosphorus, while establishing more resilient crop production and permanent carbon sequestration across millions of hectares in China.
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