Tom Karst: You mentioned the importance of residue management. How can biopesticides, or biologics, assist growers in that respect?
Marcus Meadows-Smith: There are three main areas. One is that biologics can be just good products for efficacy. For fruits and vegetables, it is very much about residue management. For soybeans, corn and wheat, we have products more focused on yields, disease concerns and productivity increases.
For the fruit and vegetable growers, particularly when they have disease pressure in the growing season, using biologics to manage (pesticide) residue levels is a big advantage. Also the other advantage is for is for crops that are hand picked or when orders come in sporadically from the food chain, it can give flexibility in use, because biologics have shorter reentry intervals and short pre-harvest intervals. It allows the growers who get an order from Wal-Mart to spray in the morning and (the grower) can still go into the field in afternoon and harvest the crop in order to deliver the order. Having biologics in that tool kit is a great benefit to that grower.
Tom Karst: As you explain the terms of you have been using - biologics and biopesticides - what is the reaction of growers who don’t know their potential and aren’t familiar with your products?
Marcus Meadows-Smith: We are having to reeducate people on what our biologics are because I think there has been a historical perception of biologics and their historical performance. Historically they tended to be lower efficacy, tended to be poor quality formulations and were harder to use. The formulations we are coming out with today are really indistinguishable from their synthetic counterparts in terms of ease of use. So often times we are out often just talking to the grower about the brand name and what diseases it controls and what benefits it brings. I think the interesting part comes to them when they have a residue management issue or a resistance management issue that they want to overcome or when the growers are talking to the food chain and see that a lot of the food chain (is) focused on residues, and they also are focused corporate responsibility and sustainability. Our biologics are produced through a fermentation process, produced very much like you produce wine, beer or yogurts. (Biologics) are often viewed as something that would help the food chain meet sustainability targets.
Tom Karst: Now being a part of Bayer, what are challenges and the opportunities in building this market and creating more awareness of (biologics)?