• Plant Health
  • Apr 29, 2022

Making Sense of the Biologicals Market

Early-season soybean plants.
The biologicals product category has grown exponentially in the past few years. What was once focused on specialty crops and other niche markets is now moving into row crops. That said, the market is still relatively young, leaving plenty of room for confusion and skepticism.
 
At WinField® United, we’ve invested significantly in bringing more clarity to this market through thorough testing, robust research and quality product development. It’s hard to find trustworthy, independent data in such an ambiguous space but we strive to provide agronomic solutions.
 
First, let’s clarify the three subcategories within the biologicals market.

Biologicals

Simply put, biologicals are living organisms. For example, a popular biological product is soybean inoculant. These are live bacteria that can be applied to support nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). To fix nitrogen, soybean plants form a symbiotic relationship with rhizobia (soil bacteria) to create nodules on the roots. When soil does not have sufficient soil bacteria to support this process due to non-optimal soil pH, floods, drought, or a multiyear gap since soybeans were last planted, applying inoculants is often necessary to optimize NUE and crop production.

Biostimulants

Biostimulants are not living organisms. They are typically an extract, amino acid or a protein derived from a biological product. These products trigger the plant to produce a hormonal or stress response. Typically, they are used to mitigate in-season stresses that could challenge your crop. For example, Voyagro® biostimulant fertilizer helps corn, soybeans, cotton and wheat overcome in-season stress due to inadequate rainfall. YieldOn is a biostimulant that modulates cell division and expansion while improving transport of sugars and nutrients.

Plant Growth Regulators (PGR)

PGRs are classified as biochemicals. They are naturally made in the body of the plant and, without their natural existence, the plant would be unable to grow and develop. By applying products like Ascend® Pro PGR, which contains a combination of three PGRs: cytokinin, gibberellic acid and indolebutyric acid, you can further enhance natural processes to help boost crop performance. Ascend Pro helps support cell division, leaf expansion and root growth for more stress-resilient plants.

WinField United Testing Platform

Biological, biostimulant and PGR products hold great potential but unlike other agricultural inputs like crop protection products, their impact on the crop is variable. To fully understand where and how they work, they require rigorous testing and trustworthy results. Last year, we launched a new biologicals testing platform using the Answer Plot® system so products can be systematically tested in this new market.
 
Here’s how it works: Manufacturers bring their products to us to collect quality, third-party performance data. Then, we test the product in the field through the Answer Plot system using a rigorous and unique testing method to obtain actionable data in one year.

Tips for Selecting a Biological Product

We know the biologicals market can be overwhelming with there being so many products and so little data. Here are a few tips to help you sort through the crowded market and find a solution that can help increase ROI potential.
  • Look for products backed by WinField United. You can trust that any product that makes it through our testing platform has been rigorously evaluated, is backed by data and has insights available for where and when to use it. 
  • Make sure you’re comparing like products. This category is vast, and there are many different responses you can trigger in a plant. When comparing products, make sure you’re considering options that work in similar ways to get a valid perspective on price and performance differentials. It’s too easy to simply say, “Our product works just like this other one, but cheaper or better.”
  • Make sure the person positioning the product can explain how it really works. Like we mentioned earlier, biologicals can’t always be measured by yield response so you really have to understand how it affects the plant to be able to make an informed decision.
  • Most importantly, make sure it’s backed by data. There’s often a really good story about what the product does, but the data may be limited or irrelevant to the specific crop or situation. 
There’s a lot of buzz around biologicals, biostimulants and PGRs, but your trusted advisor can help you sort through the noise and find solutions that work. Contact your local retailer for more information on the WinField United testing platform, Voyagro or Ascend Pro.
 
All photos are either the property of WinField United or used with permission.

© 2022 WinField United. Important: Before use always read and follow label instructions. Crop performance is dependent on several factors many of which are beyond the control of WinField United, including without limitation, soil type, pest pressures, agronomic practices and weather conditions. Growers are encouraged to consider data from multiple locations, over multiple years and to be mindful of how such agronomic conditions could impact results. Voyagro, Ascend, Answer Plot and WinField are trademarks of WinField United. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.



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