Global agriculture is facing some serious challenges over the next century, with decades of reliance on chemical fertilisers and pesticides beginning to take their toll.
As a result, the industry looks to move towards more sustainable ways to boost yields and new methods of crop protection.
In response to this, the market for agricultural biologicals, biostimulants, biopesticides and biofertilisers is growing rapidly.
Biostimulants are biologically derived substances that can be applied to plants or soils to improve nutrient uptake and tolerance of stresses, i.e. things that improve the plant itself, rather than traditional fertilisers and pesticides.
Biopesticides are a form of pesticide based on microbes or natural products, with several reported advantages over synthetic chemical pesticides.
Market research agency IDTechEx has been examining the markets, technologies and players in biostimulants and biopesticides in their new report
According to the report, biostimulants can improve the resilience of crops and reduce the need for chemical fertilisers, boosting yields and improving sustainability.
The report states that biopesticides are often effective in very small quantities and often decompose quickly, resulting in lower exposures and avoiding some of the pollution problems caused by conventional pesticides.
However, according to the report, there are challenges.
The industry is still young and biological products are not yet well-understood, leading to issues with efficacy and consistency.
There are still several barriers to cross before the biostimulant and biopesticide industries can reach their full potential.
The industries are still young and face challenges with delivering the desired result from the product consistently.
For biostimulants, this means they must either fit into unsuitable regulatory categories that do not adequately ensure efficacy or performance, or they escape regulation altogether, leading to a crowded market with little guarantee of product quality.
Biopesticides face the opposite challenge, as they often need to go through the same registration process as synthetic chemical pesticides, or a process mostly derived from it.
Biostimulant and biopesticide developers must also wrestle with regulatory systems designed for synthetic chemicals and poorly suited to biological products.
Nevertheless, IDTechEx finds that, by 2031, the total market for agricultural biologicals will reach $19.5 billion, with the biostimulants market being worth $7.5 billion and the biopesticides market reaching $12 billion.