Biological Products Finding More Demand

Biological Products Industry Alliance Growing Rapidly

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) was started 16 years ago for only five biopesticide member companies. Now there are 129 member companies and membership ranges from manufacturers of biopesticides and biostimulants to service providers, marketers, distributors, and anybody who touches this industry.

Keith Jones is executive director of the BPIA. He said during a recent meeting in Rochester, NY, that the alliance is growing.

“The running theme for the event was the growth of our association, the growth of the industry, and much of that is driven by consumer demand, regulatory pressures, and just a real move towards a sustainable future in agriculture and other markets where biological products are used,” Jones explained.

Biological products got their start in commercial agriculture, such as fruits and vegetables but have grown in demand by other markets like golf courses and ornamental operations. Among the earliest biologicals used in production agriculture are B.t. products.

“For a variety of reasons, some traditional chemistries are losing efficacy because of pests developing resistance,” Jones said. “Biologicals can be helpful with that. They don’t replace traditional chemistries, but they can actually extend the life of traditional chemistries.”

Biologicals are all part of integrated pest management and can be used during different parts of the production season, where conventional products are not labeled for use.

Biologicals can be used at the onset of a growing season and when getting close to harvest, because there are less or no pre-harvest intervals.

“What’s great about biologicals is that most of them have multiple modes of action, so it’s very hard for the pests to become resistant to that,” said Jones, adding that, “There are many benefits of biologicals, and their acceptance is growing rapidly.”

Jones said that biological products don’t replace traditional chemistries, but they can actually extend the life of traditional chemistries.

Lallemand Plant Care Acts as a Voice for the Industry

Microbes Company Promotes Biostimulants for Ag

By Mikenzi Meyers, Contributing Editor

The term “regulation” is often an unattractive vernacular for farmers and ranchers, just as “pesticide” or “chemical use” would be for the uneducated public. Amy Roberts, Regulatory Affairs Manager for Lallemand Plant Care based in Montreal, Canada, is working to make both sides come together.

California Ag Today caught her comments at the 2018 Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) Fall Meeting and Sustainability Symposium in Rochester. Roberts has been appointed the 2019 chair of BPIA

Lallemand Plant Care is a company that specializes in the use of microbes in agriculture for pesticides and biostimulants. However, Roberts has assisted them in taking on an even greater task.

“We’d like to be a voice to help improve things in a regulatory standpoint and perception standpoint,” she explained, and with the organization growing to represent the industry as a whole, “the goal seems tangible.”

This doesn’t come without its obstacles though, and Roberts noted that there is a lack of clarity for the regulatory framework, making products harder to market.

“It’s challenging for people to market them, and it’s challenging for growers and users to understand what they are and how they should be using them,” she said.

This combined with the continuous hesitation towards pesticides and biostimulants from people unfamiliar with the industry makes education and understanding on both ends that much more important.

More information can be found at www.bpia.org

BPIA Executive Director Talks Biological Products

Biological Product Industry Meets in Orlando

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Nearly 200 individuals from the worldwide biological products industry were in Orlando this week for the Fall 2017 semi-annual meeting of the Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA).

The two-day meeting featured experts from the EPA, USDA, universities, major U.S.companies such as Nestlé’s and Coca Cola, and others involved in the biological products industry.

BPIA is made up of manufacturers of bio-pesticides, which control pest and diseases, as well as bio-stimulants, which boost the natural defense of plants in the agriculture.

“We’re also marketers, distributors, service providers, anyone who touches the biological industry as we define it,” said Keith Jones, Executive Director of the BPIA.

“There has been tremendous growth in the association,” Jones said. “When I came on board two years ago we were 85 member companies. As I sit here today, we’re 122 member companies, and our companies range from very small, sole proprietors – a couple of folks at some innovative, new technologies – all the way up to the largest agrochemical companies in the world.”

Some biological products, such as B.ts., have been around for more than 50 years, while others, along with bio-stimulants, are very new and innovative. Some aren’t even on the market yet, but many are making their way to market.

“There’s two big drivers for biological,” Jones said. “One is consumer demand. And really, if you look to Europe, they’re about five years ahead of us.”

“The other driver is increased regulatory pressure. Again, Europe is about five years ahead of us. They’re really ratcheting down on a lot of the traditional tools that were available to growers. They’re going away in Europe. I think here in the U.S., you may see some of that as well.”

Jones noted that the BPIA is a big believer in integrated pest management, IPM.

“We never say that biological are the silver bullet. They’re not. They’re most effective when they’re used in conjunction with traditional chemistries,” Jones said.

“The worst time to start a biological is when you’re having a major problem. The best time is to start early. They’re so effective as preventative. They’re really good in tank mixes, used in combination, because they’ll extend the life of traditional chemicals,” Jones said.

Most biologicals have multiple modes of action, so they help with pest resistance.

“They don’t build up the resistance in the same way that they might to a traditional, but by using them together, you can extend the life of that traditional chemistry,” Jones explained.

Biopesticides Play a Bigger Role in Pest and Disease Control

By Colby Tibbet, California Ag Today Reporter

 

Pam Marrone, founder and CEO of Davis-based Marrone Bio Innovations, says biopesticides, a new frontier of pest control, works better when combined with conventional methods. “In the past, these biological products were standalone—like you see at your land grant colleges,” said Marrone.

“They would test standalone against the best cocktail chemicals. But where you see the best result is when they are incorporated into the mix,” said Marrone. “Likewise, nearly all the time, you see better results when biologicals are incorporated into the program than chemical-only programs, and you can validate that over and over again with on-farm demos,” added Marrone.

Marrone noted that biopesticides are price-competitive with traditional pesticides. “When you compare, dollar-for-dollar, today’s biopesticides are actually very cost-competitive. I think that’s a holdover from the past. There are high-priced and low-priced products—just like chemicals; you have sulfur and copper on the low end and chemical fungicides on the high-end.”

“It’s the same with biologicals. So, in our company, we looked at the full range of competitive products and priced in the middle-of-the-block to be competitive,” said Marrone.

“Historically the penetration has been in high-value fruits, nuts and vegetables,” Marrone said, “because of the issues of resistance, residues and worker re-entry. And that’s where the predominant use of these products remains, but there is now an interest is using them in the large-acre crops as well,” said Marrone.

CAPCA’s Terry Stark: Biopesticides More Mainstream

Stark Speaks About CAPCA and its Role in the Biopesticide Industry.

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

 

Terry Stark, President and CEO of California Association of Pest Control Advisors (CAPCA,) told 140 attendees at the Biopesticide Industry Alliance semi-annual early April meeting in Sacramento, what his organization thinks about the softer pest and disease control products.

“CAPCA represents 3,000 members of the 4,000 licensed-PCAs in California.

We have expanded our educational outreach through CAPCA-ED. We run 40 seminars annually throughout the state to aid all license-holders to improve their categories,” Stark announced,” said Stark.

“The regulatory burden pushes us to be better and more advanced,” Stark said. “CAPCA has 16 chapters, and each chapter has a director seated on the state board. My Chairman of the board is Jeremy Briscoe a Certis USA national manager. So I believe CAPCA is very well integrated with the biopesticide industry. Jeremy is the first representative that is a non-retail, non-independent to serve as the chair of CAPCA. This is a big move in the mentality of what we do,” said Stark.

CAPCA has traditionally centered on the San Joaquin Valley – production agriculture – the heart and soul of diversified agriculture and the money. “However, in the last 10 years, the wine industry has taken a step higher than the our other crops. All of a sudden we have Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, and southward to Santa Maria and Ventura County.”

Stark explained that everything west of I-5 tended to be the “softer side” of PCAs and chemical use in California. “I say that with respect because the wine industry was looking for ways to use less conventional products, ways to brand both organically and sustainability and with lower tolerances for their products. That caught on solidly seven or eight years ago.” Stark continued, “My largest independent PCAs are between Mendocino and San Francisco.”

“Like my Ventura guys and gals, they use more biological controls by releasing a lot of beneficials,” said Stark. “And it’s hard to come in with a hard-core application and maintain your beneficial populations,” he said.

When Stark was asked to speak at the Biopesticide Alliance meeting, he was asked to talk about perceptions. “I reflected on what I saw as a manager when they hired me to come to CAPCA. You talk about perception of biopesticides, with all due respect to my membership, 30 percent think that it’s one way or the highway.

In the central part of the state, from Kern County and throughout the desert valleys, it’s still spray and run. It’s big business, big acres. But it has its place,” said Stark.

He spoke about California being a hodgepodge of the most invasive species in the world, with many new pests coming in seemingly every week.

“Our entire citrus industry is facing Asian Citrus Psyllid which vectors the deadly citrus greening disease; we just survived the Glassy-winged sharpshooters in the wine industry; and, we’ve got Shot-hole bores coming to avocados. This represents huge production areas,” he said.

CAPCA has recognized that there are new ideas in pest and disease control and has moved towards being able to incorporate other chemistries, pheromones, and other items into the tool chest.

 

CAPCA’s Aging Demographics

Stark shared some demographics of CAPCA. “In CAPCA meetings, I don’t see a lot of dark-haired people sitting in the room. I don’t see a lot of females sitting in the room.

Our gender is 10-15 percent females,” he said.

Seventy five percent of my membership has 16-plus years of experience as PCAs. CAPCA also manages 1,000 Certified Crop Advisor (CCAs) who focus on nutrient recommendations, and the same demographics carry over to them. Of that, 35 percent have 30-plus years of experience. Do you think many will work past 30 years?

CAPCA’s last membership survey was done in 2010. We are projecting a 20% loss of membership by 2015. And that continues outward in a five-year cycle.

Through the Department of Pest Regulations we are only testing maybe 12-15 percent maximum replacements with young PCAs coming into the cycle.

How do we survive? We are turning to electronics, iPhones, and iPads.

PCAs have to be licensed in California if you are using restricted-use materials, soliciting for sale, and/or acting as an expert thereof. That takes care of the whole sales group too.

So, in biopesticides, you’re outside of that umbrella in most ways. You have some products that you to play with, but overall, that gives a “softer approach” for the younger PCAs to look at.

 

 Working Areas of PCAs

Sixteen percent of PCAs work in field and row crops; 34 percent in trees & vines, the only ones getting water this year; vegetables at 12 percent; and turf and ornamentals –10 percent. Turf and ornamentals in California drop 50 percent in the last 5 years with the collapse of the housing and commercial real estate industries, plus golf courses, they have had a pullback. So our members have moved to retail and other areas.

If you are in PAC and you are in retail, you represent 30 percent of the industry. Eighteen percent are independents, and that means you truly do your own thing: if you have alfalfa, you have 20,000 acres you’re looking at; if you have citrus, you’ve got 3-5,000 acres; if you have vineyards, you’d better have 2-3000 acres to pay for it—if you want to make big money—and you’re working 7 days a week to do that. Seventeen percent are in-house; these are the Paramount’s and the Boswells of the industry. They hire CCAs and PCAs like full-time employee of the ranch.

The dynamics of I-5 is not moving into the Central Valley or into the southern counties. You have pockets of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara where you have nursery stocks, that‘s always been kind of open to the biopesticides industry and its products.

What I think has made the biopesticide industry successful, beyond all of your research, hard work and marketing, are the opportunities and the new wave of using your thumbs, and twitter, and communications, and Facebook, and social media in general. The outreach that you can do your business on the iPhone and still drive down the road, answering your clients’ questions has enabled the “boutique” industry in the last 5 years to come closer to the mainstream because customers don’t have to do any special work to find out about you. You are in their feed lines of information. These are important tools,” said Stark.

“California is a highly-regulated environment, so electronics has complemented other resources. I think the known fact that many products are less toxic is a huge benefactor,” he said.

“Take the Light Brown Apple Moth, which ended up being a environmental community PR campaign that kicked food and agriculture’s butt in California. And now every fruit tree in Santa Cruz is going to die from the apple moth. You can’t even move the firewood because it will contaminate the rest of the area,” Stark said.

The unknown elements of a pheromone to treat the moth were a big problem because the public did not understand, and the industry took it for granted. “The pheromone is about as soft and appropriate as you can get in the marketplace,” said Stark. “But we need to approach the public in a different way. And I think the biopesticide industry is doing a much better job,” he said.

“I’d be remiss with all of the large companies sitting in the room, the BASF’s, Syngenta’s, Bayer’s, the Valent’s—all have learned to adopt and bring into their tool chest additional products that can complement their conventional materials and usually make the grower more profit,” noted Stark.

“CAPCA doesn’t get into this much, but we have a lot regulatory obligation responsibility to protect the field worker. The toxicity and the life of the product go a long way in how you get back into the field,” he said.

“So, in the biopesticide world, you have a better opportunity of targeting the exact pest you need to target. It’s not a broad-spectrum-type deal. So that gives you the advantage. My PCAs see that– my 50 percent younger side in the house – sees that. And that’s a positive for this industry,” Stark said.

IPM is not a word that is understood until you get to California. CAPCA cannot do anything in his recommendation without being CEQA-oriented (California Environmental Quality Act) must look for alternative uses before any restrictive material can be made; otherwise he is in violation of his own recommendation. IPM, and biopesticide products fit that requirement to make that check mark when they do that.

“In addition, biologicals are lower priced than they ware 7-8 years ago. And that’s good because the grower doesn’t spend a dime more than they have to. If you think PCAs are out there pounding product or fertilizer on, and the farmer is not making any money, just three minutes later in the coffee shop, that guy is fired and another is hired,” Stark said.

“It is important to the sustainability in going forward, when you have a regulatory environment like we do in California. We have a built-in arena here and people are always listening to what can be done better and still make a profit. In my opinion, you are off to the races and biopesticides are mainstream now,” noted Stark.

If you can hit 15-20% of the marketplace, it’s been a great quarter-century run for you to get there and I think the CAPCA membership is looking forward to a long-lasting relationship.

He reminded attendees of the popular CAPCA Conference, Oct. 19-21, 2014 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. “I have 1,300 attendees and 150 exhibitors. What better place to be than with 800-900 license holders. It’s all relationships. Once you get the relationship, your social media, and your electronics, your product will sell itself,” Stark concluded.