The sustainable crop protection sector has been boosted in recent days with a new CEO appointment and the launch of a new technology that could result in a 50-80% rate reduction of traditional crop protection products.
Crop Enhancement Inc, a supplier of sustainable plant-based crop-protection products that protect or enhance crop yields, named agtech veteran Jean Pougnier as CEO, on 17 June, 2020. Previously chief business officer, Pougnier takes over from Kevin Chen, PhD, who has begun a new role as an independent board director of the company.
Pougnier’s appointment comes at a crucial time for the San Jose, California-based company, which is currently undergoing further field validation of its CropCoat technology platform, in preparation for its commercialisation with key partners and distributors. When applied to plants in conjunction with crop nutrients, CropCoat offers farmers improved yield protection and crop improvement compared to synthetic agrochemicals, according to the company.
Previous field trials have assessed its ability to protect against coffee berry borer, coffee leaf miner insects, and coffee leaf rust; to protect almonds against navel orangeworm; and shield cacao from mirid and cocoa pod borer insects, as well as black pod mould. Current trials are focused on grapes, apples, broccoli, onions, and tomatoes.
Highly respected, Pougnier brings decades of management and business development experience, with over 30 years at industry leaders DuPont, FMC, and AMVAC. Notably, he served as global business development director for DuPont’s multibillion-dollar crop protection portfolio, and led business development and marketing for AMVAC prior to his joining Crop Enhancement in December 2019.
“It’s an exciting time for Crop Enhancement – our field trials have proven that our initial product, CropCoat, is a very effective deterrent to pests for several important crops, so we’ve engaged with key partners to optimise it for more applications,” said Pougnier.
“With a full slate of field trials placed for the 2020 season on our CropCoat platform and numerous evaluation engagements underway with agrochemical strategic partners, Crop Enhancement has officially entered into its next phase of growth,” added Chen.
“We are delighted to have Jean as our next CEO, and I am certain he will have high impact,” noted Marcus Meadows-Smith, chairman of the board of Crop Enhancement. “Thanks to Kevin’s effective leadership over the last four and a half years, Crop Enhancement advanced from a seed-stage start-up through Series A and B equity raises. Kevin recruited a world-class team and established Crop Enhancement as a valuable Silicon Valley company with an agronomically proven crop-protection product now in trials with multiple top-tier strategic partners. As Kevin begins his next challenge as a venture capital investor, we are grateful for his service as CEO and look forward to his continued contributions on the board.”
Crop Enhancement is focused on the development of proprietary sustainable biological products that, when sprayed on using conventional farm equipment, beneficially coat and protect plant surfaces – leaves, stems, and fruit – to significantly improve their resistance to pests and diseases and decrease the need for synthetic pesticides and pesticide applications. CropCoat is biodegradable and safe for human or animal consumption.
New product to reduce herbicide and fungicide use rates by 50%+
Meanwhile Texas-based Farm Shield has begun actively marketing its eponymous product to improve crop protection product performance and lower use rates, as a more eco-friendly solution to safeguard crops globally. Farm Shield, which utilises a proprietary aqueous-based supramolecular host chemistry to enhance the efficacy of crop protection formulas, is now available to license in the crop protection market.
“There’s a clear pull in our industry for sustainable practices, so we explored the potential of our technology to reduce effective rates and improve efficacy of different active ingredients,” said Farm Shield president, John Appel.
“About 80% of crop protection products are off patent, so we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we can help those companies make their products better?’ There’s a clear pull in our industry for sustainable practices, so we explored the potential of our technology to reduce effective rates and improve efficacy of different active ingredients.”
To help validate internal product development results, Farm Shield has already undergone trials with researchers at Syntech Research and Michigan State University on herbicides and fungicides.
“This is a unique approach to improve the many existing crop protection products already on the market,” explained David Coorts, technical director at Farm Shield. “With our supramolecular host chemistry, we can breathe new life into these active ingredients. Empirical data from our research partners has shown substantial increased performance of numerous pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides, for example, enabling effective rate reductions of up to 50-80%.”