Field trials have resulted in significant improvement, while leaving minimal footprint
ICL, a specialty minerals company, and ag-biotech company PlantArcBio, have announced the development of a novel bio-stimulant technology platform, which will improve crop yields while having minimal impact on the environment. The platform uses RNAi technology to maximise a plant’s natural yield increase mechanisms, without any genetic modification, and was the result of a multi-year research collaboration between the two companies.
In early-stage canola field trials, the platform has increased seed weight per hectare for canola crops, and ICL and PlantArcBio are planning larger-scale field trials in 2022. These will include testing the new technology platform using both commercial sprayers and standard farming practices. Greenhouse trials for soybeans and rice are in progress, with early results showing potential.
“The use of novel biostimulants based on RNAi technology helps promote sustainability, by reducing the use of chemicals in agriculture,” explained Hadar Sutovsky, vice-president of external innovation and general manager of ICL Planet. “This aligns perfectly with ICL’s long-term goal of creating impact and sustainable growth in the agriculture end-market, alongside ensuring food security.”
The global biostimulants market was estimated to be $3.2 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 12.1% to reach $5.6 billion by 2026, according to ReportLinker.com.
“ICL and PlantArcBio have filed for a joint patent on the application for multiple crops,” said Sutovsky. “The application does its work, then rapidly disappears from both the plants and the environment, lasting no more than a few days, as it is highly biodegradable and also leaves no residual footprint.”
“The positive canola field trial results constitute another milestone in strengthening PlantArcBio’s capabilities in the development of RNAi-based products,” said Dror Shalitin, PhD, founder and CEO of PlantArcBio. “ICL, a market leader in crop nutrition products, is a great strategic partner for us to commercialize this sustainable technology worldwide.”