By Adam Woods, PhD
Abstract: Microbial biopesticides are a rapidly growing market, in part due to a favorable ecological profile when compared to conventional pesticides. However, microbial biopesticides efficacy is lower than synthetic pesticides. BASF concern to meet both needs, sustainable profile, and performance, introduces the new tank mix adjuvants Agnique® BioHance 100 and Agnique® BioHance 200 as a tank mix adjuvant designed to enhance the biopesticide mode of action to surpassing traditional synthetic benchmarks. In field trials, products containing Agnique® BioHance 200 at 0.5% %v/v concentration in combination with a biopesticide, outperformed the synthetic pesticide fenhexamid by inhibiting growth of strawberry gray mold. This significant breakthrough enables producers to leverage the microbial biopesticides with the favorable ecological profile while still protecting valuable crops from common pathogens. Both products contain TSCA (US) and DSL (Canada) listed components. Agnique® BioHance 100 contains components that are acceptable for organic operations, and the product may be eligible for listing under OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute). Agnique® BioHance 100 and Agnique® BioHance 200 also qualify for inclusion in EPA’s List of Trade Names of Inert Ingredients.
Remarkable boom on Microbiological biopesticides, but still room to growth
Tomato blight. Spinach downy mildew. Strawberry gray mold. Pumpkin powdery mildew. These common pathogens devastate crops and cause significant economic impact for the people depending on the crop’s survival. That includes farmers, distributers, retailers, and even consumers who see higher prices when supply doesn’t meet demand.
Microbial biopesticides are a rapidly growing market, in part because biopesticides tend to pose fewer risks when compared to synthetic pesticides.1 The US EPA outlines several advantages of biopesticides. Biopesticides usually show lower toxicity and a more selective mode of action than the conventional pesticides.2 Biopesticides are often effective in small quantities and decompose quickly and can significantly reduce the use of conventional pesticides when used as a component of Integrated Pest Management programs.
One significant barrier in the biopesticide market is that microbial biopesticides are often less effective than synthetic pesticides when tasked with controlling medium and heavy pest pressures due to slower modes of action.
Figure 1A demonstrates Bacillus amyloliquefaciens on pumpkin leaf as organic inhibitor. Figure 1B shows the microbe and BioHance treatment. Figure 1C demonstrates powdery mildew on pumpkin leaf without any treatment. Figure 1D displays pumpkin leaf treated with Pristine® fungicide.
A breakthrough for the agricultural industry to balance consumer demands on produce successful crops and sustainability profiles
Agnique® BioHance 100 and Agnique® BioHance 200, BASF new solutions aim to provide a solution for sustainability and customer demand. BASF commitment to performance, efficacy and sustainability is part of the strategy, therefore it’s the first to market with a line of products that not only addresses this urgent and previously unmet market need, but also does so with the backing of sound testing via field trials.
This is a significant breakthrough, and it means producers can leverage the microbial biopesticides with their favorable ecological profile while still protecting valuable crops from common pathogens.
Agnique® BioHance solutions are designed to be used as a tank mix additive at the time of application. Methodologies were developed in-house at BASF to evaluate the compatibility and performance of products with Bacillus spores and vegetative cells. All the ingredients in both products were screened for compatibility with Bacillus species, and the methodologies used to develop these products can now be easily applied to other microbial biopesticides. Figures 1A-1D display the combination of B. amyloliquefaciens and Agnique® BioHance to match the synthetic pesticide treatment of a pumpkin leaf.
The performance of the new adjuvant concentrates was confirmed in extensive field trials with Bacillus Biopesticides over 2 growing years against 11 pathogens on 9 different crops. Both adjuvant concentrates have been optimized for enhanced protection and safety. Both products contain TSCA (USA) and DSL (Canada) listed components. Agnique® BioHance 100 contains components that are acceptable for organic operations, and the product may be eligible for listing under OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) per internal review. Agnique® BioHance 100 and Agnique® BioHance 200 also qualify for inclusion in EPA’s List of Trade Names of Inert Ingredients for pre- and post-harvest applications, based on an internal assessment. The crops and the applicable adjuvant product are shown below in Table 1.
Table 1 displays Agnique BioHance line showed statistical adjuvancy with Bacillus biopesticides against 11 pathogens on 9 different crops in field trials.
Tailor-made solution with a detailed precision
The reason behind two different products comes down to the level of precision and detail of the pesticide formulation. The list of commonly threatening pathogens is so diverse that no single product could address all eleven organisms. Rather than have a product that was broader yet less effective, BASF opted to develop two finely tuned solutions that are engineered specifically for targeting certain pathogens.
Figure 2 below demonstrates the superior efficacy that a product containing Agnique BioHance 200 offers to control strawberry gray mold with B. amyloliquefaciens. The results show that the product containing Agnique BioHance 200 as an adjuvant at 0.50% v/v concentration in combination with the biopesticide controls up to 92% of strawberry gray mold which is higher than the traditionally synthetic fungicides with the active ingredient Fenhexamid.
Figure 2 shows the % control strawberry gray mold as a function of Agnique BioHance 200 concentration and biopesticide as a comparison to a synthetic fungicide. The BioHance 200 shows superior efficacy at 0.50% concentration than the commercial synthetic fungicide in Fenhexamid.
Raising the bar on sustainability without sacrificing performance
The field tests of Agnique BioHance adjuvants alone shows no fungicidal activity. The combination of Agnique BioHance products and biopesticides are shown to be effective synergists for Bacillus amyloliquefaciens to promote the activity of protective bacteria. That means these solutions have the potential to deliver the lift that the microbial biopesticide market needs to get over the efficacy hurdle.
The market has long lacked a field-tested solution to outcompete pesticides and produce healthier, faster-growing crops without sacrificing the use of microbial biopesticides. That solution is here, and it packs the power of BASF.
1. Leahy, J., Mendelsohn, M., Kough, J., Jones, R., & Berckes, N. (2014). Biopesticide oversight and registration at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Biopesticides: State of the Art and Future Opportunities, 3–18. https://doi.org/10.1021/bk-2014-1172.ch001
2. Environmental Protection Agency. (2022, June 27). What are Biopesticides? EPA. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-usedpesticide-products/what-are-biopesticides
Contact: Adam Woods, PhD Industry Marketing Manager Agricultural Chemicals North America
Phone: +1 973 245-6000
This article was initially published in the magazine 2022 Biologicals Special.