As global food demand increases, the agricultural sector is faced with the double challenge of increasing productivity while reducing the sector’s environmental impact. In an effort to help farmers worldwide address this challenge, Chr. Hansen has entered the rapidly growing plant health market.
Feeding the world in 2050
The global agricultural sector is facing a massive productivity challenge in the years ahead. According to the World Resources Institute, the agricultural sector needs to produce 69% more crops by 2050 in order to feed the growing population compared to 2006 levels1. This means that crop yields will need to grow by more than one third in the next 44 years compared to the past 44 years. At the same time consumers worldwide are putting a stronger focus on food quality, healthy nutrition and well-being while stricter regulation and registration requirements for conventional crop protection products put the industry under pressure to phase out many of the chemicals that has been the main driver of the last 5 decades of productivity growth.
With crop yields already at high levels and with climate change adding additional stress to productivity in many agricultural regions, the industry is in need of, innovative, healthy and sustainable solutions to help meet the growing demand for food.
Finding the answers in nature
One promising approach to improving agricultural productivity comes from nature itself in form of the microbial communities that live in, on and around plants. According to the American Academy of Microbiology, microbial solutions to improve plant health have the potential to increase crop productivity by 20% and reduce fertilizer and pesticide requirements by 20% within 20 years2.
Biological products can play a vital part in addressing some of the world’s big challenges. The use of bio-stimulants and bio-pesticides is a promising approach to improve agricultural productivity while benefiting the plants, the product quality and the environment.
With a long-term ambition of leveraging its microbiological platform and knowledge to become part of the solution, Chr. Hansen has entered the rapidly growing biological plant protection market in a strategic alliance with FMC Corporation. Through the alliance, Chr. Hansen and FMC are working to combine knowledge and expertise to create a broad portfolio of biological solutions for farmers worldwide.
Towards a sustainable alternative for farmers worldwide
The alliance builds on an existing collaboration between Chr. Hansen and FMC, under which the first product for sugar cane farmers, NEMIX® C, was launched in 2013. NEMIX® C has already proven the potential to increase sugar cane yields by 10% through enhanced root development and protection and is a purely biological product. Going forward, the alliance will expand into additional geographies and crop types with existing and new products.
What are microbes and why do they matter to plant health?
Microbes in the soil function much like the human microbiome, which helps break down food, access nutrients, and defend against harmful invaders. With the help of genetic analysis new information can be uncovered about the link between microbes and plant health, uncovering clues as to which bacteria, fungus or virus can help plants withstand unhealthy conditions such as heat, drought and diseases.
1 WRI: Crop Breeding: Renewing the global commitment, working paper
2 “How Microbes can help feed the world”, American Academy of Microbiology, 2012