New agricultural biological inputs are continually emerging, often proving to be more targeted and effective than traditional products. According to The Wall Street Journal, record-high fertilizer prices and land degradation are prompting farmers to try new biological ag inputs that are often cheaper, while benefiting soil biodiversity.
Farmers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of sustainable biological inputs for the environment and the bottom line. Retailers equipped with the latest technologies are essential to helping them choose the right products. For instance, recently, a retailer that wanted to provide a California brussels sprout farmer with data-backed biological input recommendations completed a Be Crop® Test on the farm. The test analyzed soil health, biodiversity, and nutrient cycling. The resulting BeCrop® Report gave the retailer the data they needed to recommend a new, targeted fertilization practice that helped the farmer cut agrochemicals by 50% in favor of soil biologicals and save $22,958 per year while realizing an 8% higher yield. At the same time, the retailer realized a 5x increase in profits, earning the same revenue but by selling the higher-margin biological inputs.
Such positive results are spurring healthy growth in the agricultural biologicals market worldwide. The days of poor-quality biological products backed by false claims are being ended by new legislation, such as the USDA Plant Biostimulant Act and the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, which call for consistency in product claims, definitions, and labeling. Market demand for transparency and clarity on input ingredients and performance is being heard, and consumer pressure for organic agriculture is driving the market growth. The global agricultural biologicals market, valued at USD $11.66 billion in 2022, is expected to reach USD $29.31 billion by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 14% over the period.
Why Are Retailers Turning to Soil Biology to Guide Their Input Recommendations?
Improving the soil’s microbial environment builds overall soil health. Healthy soil promotes nutrient uptake, movement, and availability. It increases soil aggregation and water retention. It also strengthens plant response to stress, disease, and pests. The key to ensuring healthy soil is working with the microbes. Yet approximately $218 billion worth of microbe-killing agrochemicals were applied to the soil in 2021 alone.
From fertilizers to stimulants to pesticides, biological inputs can help farmers achieve better results than ever before. And especially as newer, conservation-minded generations of farmers take the reins, they are eager to embrace innovative and sustainable inputs. However, in general, customers are often unsure about how these unfamiliar packages and products will advance their precision farming efforts and target the specific issues on their fields. This is where retailers can shine as trusted and knowledgeable advisors, leveraging the most advanced soil microbiome analysis tools from BeCrop®. BeCrop® Test provides functional soil analysis and translates complex data into user-friendly reports. By looking at soil biology through a functional lens, retailers can help farmers optimize inputs and reduce costs without losing yields.
BeCrop® Technology has helped to improve the biodiversity of more than 440,000 hectares of land, using the largest taxonomic database of 14M microorganisms. It provides retailers and farmers with the most comprehensive reports on biological soil functions for all crops. Using BeCrop®, farmers worldwide have decreased their agrochemical usage by 20%, saving time and money.
Retailers can support their customers by selling the BeCrop® testing kits directly or providing on-field testing as a service. BeCrop® Test identifies biological pathways involved in crop yields, nutrition, health, stress adaptation, and resilience. By analyzing and understanding the soil’s biodiversity at the individual field or crop level, retailers and farmers can make science-backed decisions based on the abundance of microorganisms in the soil and their functions.
Soil Testing Can Play a Critical Role in How Farmland Performs
By taking an in-depth look at the soil biology, retailers can help farmers proactively address nutrient deficiencies, stress adaptation, pathogen pressure, and more. Once an agricultural biological input strategy is in place, soil testing can be pivotal to determining whether goals have been accomplished, such as a post-application soil test showing how a product performed and whether the farmer achieved ROI.
While some outdated farming practices that produce positive short-term results lead to soil degradation and other serious problems, farmers are searching for long-term, sustainable input recommendations. This is where future-forward retailers can help.