Via AgroNotizie: From the bacteria an aid for the plants
November 29th, 2017
Offered by AgroNotizie
Translated from the Italian Original
Originally published November 2, 2017
From the bacteria an aid for the plants
Inocucor is a Canadian company that has developed micro-stimulants based on micro-organisms that strengthen the growth of plants. “Bacteria and fungi have enormous potential that we have just begun to sense.” Interview with Donald Marvin, president of the company.
The study of the microbiota, the set of microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and so on) that live in symbiosis with plants or with humans, is only at the beginning. The development of products for animal and plant health is one of the big business on which international investors are throwing themselves and promising to change the way the farmer approaches the field.
In our intestine they harbor billions of microorganisms that are fundamental for our life: for example they regulate our immune system and help us to digest some substances, such as fibers. Similarly, plants also live in symbiosis with some strains of bacteria that help the plant grow, fight disease or resist environmental stress. The most famous case is certainly that of the legumes that are able to fix atmospheric gaseous nitrogen thanks to the support of some microorganisms.
“We have only begun to scratch the surface of the great potential that microorganisms can have in agriculture,” explains Donald Marvin, president of Inocucor Technologies, a Canadian company that develops biostimulant products based on microorganisms and has recently closed a round of $ 38.8 million funding with TPG Alternative & Renewable Technologies, a fund that invests only in ‘sustainable’ companies.
“Our goal is to develop products based on microorganisms that increase crop productivity, accelerate plant growth and protect the soil by making it healthier and more resilient,” explains Marvin during the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, an event that brought to London companies, startups and investors who tried to imagine the future of agriculture.
Can you give us an example of a product you have already developed?
“Three years ago we launched Synergro in the US, a product based on live microorganisms that stimulates the development of plant roots and is ideal for high value-added crops, such as strawberries, tomatoes and small fruits. It is usable in fields and greenhouses or with hydroponic systems.”
What effects does this product have on the plant?
“It strengthens the roots and therefore reduces losses in case of abiotic stress, such as excessive heat or cold, water scarcity, etc. But it also helps the plant to face a transplant or to adapt to a saline ground. We are also producing a similar product, Synergro Free, to be used instead on commodities such as soy or wheat.”
What are the differences?
“The two biostimulants are produced in a similar way thanks to the use of a consortium of ten strains of bacteria. In the case of Synergro Free, however, we separate the microorganisms from the metabolites useful to the plant at the end of fermentation.”
Let’s take a step back, how do you produce these biostimulants?
“We have selected bacterial strains that produce metabolites, substances that are the result of their biological processes, which are useful for the plant, for example growth hormones that serve to expand the root system and make it stronger. Through our patented technology we do a fermentation process with these microorganisms. In the case of Synergro, the product contains the metabolites and live microorganisms, in the case of the Free version we separate the bacteria from the metabolites that are then concentrated.”
Let’s do some clarity. Are your products intended for crop protection?
Are they fertilizers?
Do your products aim to replace synthetic products?
“No, our biostimulants and defense products or fertilizers are complementary: the two products of the Synergro family do not replace the two categories mentioned, but part of our research is dedicated to finding solutions for the control of certain diseases that today they do not have an effective cure with synthetic products: tests carried out using microorganisms for the contrast of potato scabies, tumor of tomatoes and some fungal diseases of strawberries have given good results.”
Are the bacteria used genetically modified?
“Absolutely not, they are not GMOs. They are bacteria isolated for the first time in the food supply chain and they are not from the soil, they are not pathogenic microorganisms and this is a principle choice made by our two founders: we want to work with organisms that are beneficial.“
Are you going to enter the European market?
“We are a small company with global aspirations. We were born in Canada, we moved to the USA and then to Latin America, our next target is Western Europe, with a particular focus on Spain. We also have an interest in viticulture in Italy.”
Are you looking for a bigger partner to market your products?
“No, because we want to be creators of our destiny, we do not want to be acquired by someone who does not even use our technology, we work side-by-side with farmers to find solutions to their problems and so we want to continue.”