As a leading biotechnology company in the agricultural sector, Symborg’s innovative biological solutions serve all types of crops and agricultural systems. Their products are sold in over 50 countries, helping farmers boost yield and cope with sustainability challenges. Symborg’s unique technologies are beneficial to more and more farmers worldwide, especially after recent distribution agreement with Corteva Agriscience.
In this interview, Symborg founding partner and CEO Jesús Juárez, talks about their innovative crop solutions and future plans to contribute to the sustainable agriculture.
1. Can you tell us about Symborg? How has the company become an international leader in agricultural biotechnology?
When we founded Symborg, we had a big dream and three clear objectives. The dream was to help farmers around the world successfully overcome their challenges. As for the objectives, the first was to continue to work closely with farmers, listen to them, and understand their needs to solve them. Symborg's innovation starts in the field. The second was a strong commitment to R&D, to offer innovative and disruptive solutions that bring innovation to the field. And the third was to lead the transformation of the agricultural model toward an efficient, profitable, and sustainable model worldwide.
Sustainability has always been a pillar for Symborg. That's why all our products are biological in origin, without harmful substances for the planet, and suitable for all types of agriculture. This firm commitment has allowed us to become market-shapers in international agricultural biotechnology.
2. What are Symborg's main technologies?
Symborg helps farmers produce more by consuming fewer resources; to be more efficient as well as sustainable. Thanks to our biotechnological solutions, farmers can maximize their harvests and minimize the environmental impact using microorganism and biomolecule-based biostimulants, biofertilizers, and biocontrol solutions.
After thousands of hours of research, we have put the following on the market:
Microorganism and biomolecule-based biostimulants for plants to maximize their harvests. Unique innovations based, for example, on Glomus iranicum var. tenuihypharum, an exclusive mycorrhizal-forming fungus patented by Symborg or Trichoderma harzianum T-78, an associative fungus beneficial to crops. The market can access these biostimulants under the brands MycoUp, MycoUp 360, Resid MG, Resid HC, TrichoSym Bio, and Balius.
We have also managed to revolutionize nitrogen fertilization with Methylobacterium symbioticum, the basis of our BlueN Technology that allows the plant to fix nitrogen from the air biologically. The bacterium Methylobacterium symbioticum, discovered and patented by Symborg, helps solve one of the great global challenges of agriculture, such as nitrogen fertilization or rather overfertilization, which, as we all know, negatively impacts the environment. This solution is currently under an exclusive global distribution agreement with Corteva Agriscience.
A unique innovation comes from the hand of Beauveria bassiana 203. Symborg recently acquired the biotech startup Glen Biotech, incorporating its technology for biocontrol solutions. Through Beauveria bassiana, approved by the European Commission as a substance for use in the formulation of plant protection products, we will offer the market biological solutions for pest control. This is another one of agriculture’s great challenges, with legislation that will be tightened by 2030, with a 50% reduction in the use of pesticides as established by the “From Farm to Fork” agreement.
In addition, I would like to highlight the exclusive hydrolysis process that is being carried out at the new Symborg hydrolysis plant. We have managed to convert waste from large industries into products through a careful hydrolysis process, as we are also committed to the circular economy.
3. How does biotechnology help farmers?
We are in times of rapid changes that affect practically all sectors. In the case of agriculture, these changes entail different challenges, not only for the farmer but also for the entire agri-food chain. For example, the scarcity of resources such as water or soil; or a new social and environmental demand that brings changes in consumption behavior, or legislative changes to which agriculture must adapt by being more precise, sustainable, and technological.
This is where biotechnology becomes a great ally. Thanks to innovation, we can offer farmers efficient, sustainable, and profitable biotechnological solutions.
In the case of Symborg, we have a common goal with the farmer: to seek efficiency. To achieve more with less. Farmers are the first to be interested in making the most efficient use of natural resources without reducing their productivity or profitability. Our solutions allow them to achieve this by providing, among other benefits:
improved crop growth, quality, and productivity with minimal resources
more efficient water use
increased plant tolerance to abiotic stresses such as drought and salinity
optimized use of fertilizers by limiting the loss of nutrients in the environment and, therefore, the contamination of aquifers
help with the assimilation of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, copper, and iron, among others
prevention of soil degradation, improving soil quality, and maintaining optimal growing conditions
contribution to the capture of CO2, reducing greenhouse gases, and fighting climate change
we help treat heavy metal contaminated soils
stabilization of the ecological functioning and productivity of ecosystems
adaptation of farmer’s practices to environmental regulations
improvement of the quality of production, increasing the caliber and nutritional and organoleptic properties
help with the control of pests and diseases with biological, sustainable, and appropriate solutions for the resistance management
Being biological products, they do not produce undesirable residues in plants, or alter the genetic characteristics of crops and harvests.
4. Corteva is Symborg's executive distributor of your patented nitrogen fixation product. What impact does this agreement have on the biological fertilization market?
The agreement with Corteva Agriscience aims to quickly reach the largest number of farmers in the world, streamlining market access to a solution that is revolutionizing nitrogen fertilization worldwide. The optimization of the use of nitrogen in agricultural management is one of the great challenges of current agriculture and Symborg biotechnology is, undoubtedly, part of the solution. We want as many farmers in the world as possible to benefit from this disruptive innovation.
Symborg has signed an exclusive global distribution agreement with Corteva Agriscience for its biological nitrogen fixation product. With this collaboration, Corteva will exclusively distribute the endophytic bacteria Methylobacterium symbioticum, patented by Symborg, under the brands BlueN™ or Utrisha™ N.
By fixing nitrogen from the air and converting it for the plant, this technology provides an alternative and sustainable nitrogen source that reduces dependence on nitrogen uptake from the soil and ensures the plant has access to nitrogen throughout the season. This nitrogen management solution can help farmers maximize the yield potential of a wide range of crops.
Without a doubt, this marks a turning point in the biofertilizer market.
5. Symborg announced the acquisition of Glen Biotech earlier this year. How are Glen Biotech technologies integrated into Symborg to improve the sustainability of agriculture?
The acquisition of Glen Biotech responds to Symborg's commitment to continue investing in innovation and talent. Once again, we have listened to farmers. One of the main agronomic challenges is how to successfully cope with crop management in a context where there are fewer and fewer tools for pest and disease control. Here, again, biotechnology is the answer.
That's why at Symborg, we strengthened our product portfolio and opted for the incorporation of biocontrol solutions, which are so necessary for the farmer in the current context.
Through Glen Biotech's technology, based on the fungus Beauveria bassiana 203, Symborg will develop new products that provide farmers with biological mechanisms for pest control. This step is aligned with international regulations, such as the European Union's Farm to fork strategy.
The current global market value of Beauveria bassiana is estimated, according to a recent study published by Mnemonics Research Analysis, at around one billion dollars and for which an annual growth of around 16% is expected, reaching close to 2,500 million dollars in 2027.
6. Symborg's biostimulants and biofertilizers have entered the Chinese market. What do you think about the consumer response to these products? Will the market demand succeed in launching a new product in the country?
Chinese farmers are showing great interest in our solutions after seeing the excellent results in the field. For example, the biostimulants MycoUp and MycoUp 360 and the biofertilizer VitaSoil have been well received. Symborg helps farmers produce more by consuming fewer resources; to be more efficient as well as sustainable. Hence the good reception in China of these innovative biotechnological solutions.
In addition, our differential value is precisely our model based on proximity to the farmer. Symborg's innovation starts in the field. We listen to farmers, understand their needs, and seek solutions through biotechnology. In the Chinese market, we listened to the farmers, and we are with them in the field, accompanying them with trials and personalized attention so that they know firsthand how to incorporate biostimulants and biofertilizers in their agricultural management.
As for in the future, we plan to continue growing with new products in China. As I previously mentioned, the agricultural sector is in full change and farmers need innovative solutions to adapt. China too. In addition, I would like to remind you that biotechnology not only helps to increase profitability in a way that respects the environment, which is already a real demand on the part of consumers. Our products also solve the challenge of those areas where food needs to be produced to feed the population and to do so safely. We are also part of the transformation of economies in more rural areas, boosting their results. Do more with less. That's biotechnology.
7. Would you like to talk about Symborg's plans for the future?
Our vision for the future focuses on three areas, with the aim of continuing to solve the challenges of farmers and leading the transformation of the agri-food model.
The first focus remains the same as when we founded the company: to work close to the farmers—listening to them, understanding their needs, and converting them into effective, profitable, and sustainable solutions.
The second focus is sustainability, combining biotechnology with digitalization for better use of resources. In this way, we will continue to increase efficiency and reduce environmental impact, such as greenhouse gases, nutrient leaching, pest and disease resistance, and residues on fruits and vegetables, among others. We also envision the future of agriculture with research tools such as computational biology, which will allow us to process a lot of information and have a more profound knowledge of agrosystems.
And the third focus is on the development of new innovative products focused on the areas of biostimulation, biofertilization, and biocontrol. Biostimulants to make crops more productive and capable of offering their maximum potential under stressful conditions, using new microorganisms and biomolecules. Biofertilizers to improve fertilizer use and plant nutrition while maintaining soil health. And biocontrol, with biological solutions based on microorganisms and biomolecules that are effective in controlling pests and diseases, assisting the management of anti-resistance strategies, and all without producing waste.