Microbes: Big Ag’s Next Big Thing

Is the next big thing a microbe?

Monsanto thinks it may well be. The Ag giant is investing heavily in new research with a partner company that already has made a big name for itself with microbes and microbial based technology. That company is Novozymes, A Denmark-based multinational with offices around the world. It claims the title of the world’s largest provider of enzyme and microbial technologies, and it is moving into the field of Ag Biologicals.

In the mid-1900’s, the company spearheaded development in enzymes used in detergents. The enzymes replaced hazardous chemicals with a biological substance that was non toxic and non polluting. Since that time, the company has developed other enzymes that convert biomass into fuel and they began research in biofertility solutions for agriculture.

Monsanto and Novozymes formed The BioAg Alliance to expand their research. They are presently testing more than 2,000 bacteria taken from soils around the world. This isn’t just more research on organic matter; the BioAg Alliance is hunting for something more than compost on steroids. They are looking for solutions to specific problems, whether they be fertilization, diseases, insect infestations, or any other specific challenge that growers face. They want to use bacteria and enzymes to control pests and solve problems.

Monsanto isn’t alone in their race to find microbial solutions to replace agri-chemicals. Bayer and DuPont have their own research effort. And there are several smaller companies who have been working with compost or compost teas and extracts. Rodale Press has touted the advantages of organics for decades. But compost is a shotgun approach. These researchers are looking for a specific bacteria or enzyme for a specific solution.

The bottom line is, these new Ag Biologicals could be a tool that helps you improve yield. They could reduce Ag’s reliance on chemicals for fertilization and pest control. It’s looking beyond the seed to improve yield and quality.

And that could be very good for your farm and the environment.

Previously published on The Western View by AgNet West.

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