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.