Combining the powers of biological agents and synthetic chemistries

We speak to Professor Moshe Reuveni, Chief Scientist at STK bio-ag technologies, about the advantages of biopesticides and a new generation of ‘hybrid’ products that may present a new era in pest control.

Combining the powers of biological agents and synthetic chemistries

As a leader in biopesticides innovation, STK Bio-ag Technologies (formerly Stockton) is pioneering a new generation of ‘hybrid pest control’ products that combine the powers of biological agents and synthetic chemistries, and which may present a new era in pest control. With recent partnership agreements with industry giants such as BASF, Syngenta and Seipasa, this seemed like a great time for Chemicals Knowledge to catch up with STK’s Chief Scientist, Professor Moshe Reuveni.

STK seems to be in a great place right now! How have the values and mission of the company led you here?

STK was founded and is headquartered in Israel, the ‘innovation nation’! Innovation and sustainable agriculture are in our DNA, and we are committed to the values of sustainable agriculture – from field to fork. This stems from our main mission to provide premium, highly effective products, with low chemical residues and novel and unique mechanisms of action (MOA). We also aim to provide additional yield benefits, and to ensure that our products are flexible and easy to apply, and chemically compatible with many other active ingredients.

What are the main benefits of biopesticides?

There are many advantages. Biopesticides come from nature – they may be plant extracts, like Timorex Gold, which effectively ruptures pathogen cells (Figure 1), or bacteriological, like Aviv, a powerful Bacillus subtilis requiring less than half the dosage of other biopesticides. In any case, biopesticides contain no synthetic chemicals. They are produced from renewable sources, and they leave minimal crop residue, making crops treated with biopesticides much more competitive in domestic and international markets. Regulators, consumers and retail supermarkets all want to reduce the chemical residue on their produce.

The selectivity of biopesticides, which target only their natural enemies, also helps to maintain beneficial insect and mite populations, ensure worker safety and promote environmental safety.

Today’s biopesticides are as effective – or even more effective – than synthetic chemical pesticides, in terms of crop protection and increasing yields. Furthermore, biopesticides are an important weapon in managing pesticide resistance. They can help reduce the selection pressure for the evolution of resistance to synthetic pesticides, and the risk of pests and pathogens developing resistance to biopesticides is low, especially as these agents often have multiple modes of action.

Switzerland recently announced that it is considering a total ban of synthetic pesticides – do you think it is feasible to have a world free of synthetics?

The world’s population is expected to grow from the current 7 billion people to 9 billion people by 2050. In order to feed all of these people and avoid mass starvation, mankind will need to double crop yields globally. This is a tall order, and to achieve this, growers will need effective tools for combating diseases – we think this will need to include biopesticides and synthetic chemical pesticides; or hybrid technologies that combine the two.

The use of biopesticides is forecast to grow by 15% to 20% annually for the foreseeable future, while synthetic chemical use is predicted to grow at a slower annual rate of 3%. If those growth rates are maintained, eventually we will be in a situation where more biopesticides than synthetic pesticides are being used. We think this will be a good situation to be in, for the many reasons discussed above, but we still see a continued need for good synthetic pesticides.

Can you tell us more about ‘hybrid’ technologies and how they expect to encourage uptake of biological agents?

STK has introduced the world’s first ‘hybrid’ pesticide, Regev – the ‘pre-mix’ of a synthetic pesticide with a botanical-based biopesticide. Specifically, it combined a Tea Tree botanical extract and difenoconazole in an easy-to-use formulation. The combination of a natural product with broad-spectrum activity and a traditional site-specific synthetic provides growers with the different modes of action of a botanical-based active ingredient and an effective chemical pesticide. The hybrid combination results in a reduced synthetic chemical load on the environment, compared with other

traditional mixtures based on two synthetic chemicals. Regev is an effective and unique tool for resistance management, and it is clearly suitable for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs.

This product is also a bridge for growers who have never previously tried a biopesticide. These growers can use Regev in exactly the same way as their current chemical pesticide: no mixing, no rotating, easy-to-use… and with the benefits of lowering chemical residues, improved resistance management and yield growth. Regev will accelerate the uptake of biological products by making it easy.

Historically, biopesticides have been used largely on high-value crops, such as fruits and vegetables, but hybrids like Regev are not only being used on fruits and vegetables, but have proven to be a cost-effective approach for row crops like soy beans, and field and broad acre crops like corn. Regev is already being used in 10 countries throughout Latin America, Israel, Serbia and the Philippines. Plans for 2019 call for the global rollout of REGEV.

How are you working with global majors to encourage global distribution of these technologies?

To accelerate the distribution of STK’s biological technologies for sustainable agriculture, we have entered into partnerships with various companies . In Brazil, Timorex Gold botanical-based biofungicide is co-distributed by both STK and BASF, which is proving to be very effective in this very large country. In the US, Aviv, our low-dose Bacillus subtilis biofungicide, is distributed by Syngenta. Not all of our distributors are the global majors, and STK is always open to partnerships with companies large, medium and small.

What’s next for STK?

Beyond the continuing geographic distribution of Timorex Gold, Regev and Aviv, STK has a powerful pipeline of new biological products to provide new tools to help growers reach the goal of doubling their yields by 2050. This pipeline includes new biopesticides based either on powerful natural plant molecules or plant extracts to be used as bio-fungicides or bio-insecticides. In addition, new hybrids combining natural active ingredients and reliable synthetic active chemicals, to be used on wide range of crops and pathogens, are under development.

Interview with: Professor Moshe Reuveni, Chief Scientist at STK bio-ag technologies, Ha’Mefalsim St 17, POB 3517, Petach Tikva 4951447, Israel

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Summit Agro becomes the Exclusive Partner of STK in the USA

Summit Agro will distribute STK Botanical Biopesticides and Innovative ‘Hybrids’ in the USA April 15,  (Petach Tikvah, Israel) – STK bio-ag technologies, the innovative Israeli leader in botanical sustainable crop protection, has partnered with Summit Agro U.S.A., which will become the exclusive distributor of STK products in the United States. Effective immediately, Summit Agro USA will assume the marketing and sales responsibility for STK products in the USA.  Currently registered STK products, include TIMOREX GOLD® and Timorex ACT®.  TIMOREX GOLD® is the world’s leading botanical-based biofungicide, used in nearly 40 countries and currently approved for use throughout the USA for a wide range of uses.  Timorex ACT®, is a new OMRI – listed biofungicide for organic farming and conventional agriculture.  Pending registration is REGEV®. REGEV® is the first ‘hybrid’ pre-mixed combination of a botanical-based biopesticide with a chemical pesticide. Comprised of Tee Tree Oil (TTO) and Difenoconazole, REGEV® is already used in approximately 15 countries and has proven activity on a wide range of horticultural and row crops. EPA registration is anticipated in the first quarter of 2020.   In addition to the STK products, Summit Agro will also assume the STK non-exclusive rights to sell AVIV® biological fungicide in the US. Already successfully launched in the US, AVIV® offers broad spectrum disease control in key fruit and vegetable crops. CEO Arye Tennebaum of STK declared, “I am delighted to announce this partnership with Summit Agro. They are a world-class organization, with a great team of highly knowledgeable and dedicated professionals to help fruit and vegetable growers with STK’s cutting edge technologies for plant health and yield growth.”   The President and CEO of Summit Agro USA, Bill Lewis, also commented, stating,” Summit Agro is very excited with this opportunity.  The addition of the STK brands to the existing strong Summit Agro brand family will allow Summit Agro to offer a wide range of disease control options.   We are confident that in coordination with our exclusive distribution partners, Helena Agri Enterprises and the Tenkoz Member Companies, we will be able to effectively deliver STK’s  innovative biological and ‘hybrid’ solutions to growers all across the USA. We know these are outstanding products and we’re very proud to have been selected to represent them in the USA.” About STK Founded in 1994, STK is a bio-ag technology company committed to sustainable crop protection through the use of innovative biological products. STK’s botanical-based solutions (BBS), a synergy of cutting-edge scientific research and technology, enhance the safety, yield and quality of multiple crops. STK’s botanical and hybrid solutions are easily integrated into conventional spraying programs, helping to advance the Integrated Pest Management approach to food production. About Summit Agro Summit Agro USA, located in Durham, NC is focused on working with our partners to identify, develop, and deliver innovative solutions that meet the needs of growers across the United States.  Summit Agro has a history of bringing innovative solutions to market and can manage the full process from initial development to sales. This integrated business approach enables us to provide reliable, high-quality products to US growers.  Whether the need is for insecticides, fungicides, or herbicides, Summit Agro has a full range of product offers to meet the needs of our customers.

Exclusive Distribution Agreement Announced For STK In Colombia

March 11, 2019 (Tel Aviv, Israel) – STK bio – ag technologies, the innovative Israel-based leader in bio-ag technologies and hybrid technologies for sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, and ADAMA , a global leader in crop protection products,  are announcing an exclusive agreement for the distribution of Timorex® Gold botanical-based bio-fungicide and STK REGEV® ‘Hybrid’ fungicide throughout Colombia. Under this exclusive agreement, ADAMA will sell the products throughout Colombia under STK’s trade name, Timorex® Gold and  STK REGEV®. Timorex® Gold is currently approved for use in Colombia for the following crops: Bananas, Rice, Ornamentals, Tomatoes, Avocados, Onions, Coffee, Corn, Tobacco, Potatoes, Passion fruit and Pitahaya. Colombia has also approved STK REGEV® on rice, with expected label extension on bananas, ornamentals, coffee and tomatoes. TIMOREX GOLD® is a highly effective and popular botanical-based bio-fungicide. Based on Tea Tree Oil, TIMOREX GOLD® is used by growers in nearly 40 countries throughout the Americas, Asia, Australia/New Zealand and Israel. TIMOREX GOLD® protects fruits and vegetables from a wide variety of diseases, substantially increases crop yields and quality, leaves no chemical residues, and makes TIMOREX GOLD® treated crops more competitive and agriculture more sustainable internationally. STK REGEV® is the world’s first ‘hybrid’ fungicide. It is used successfully in many countries and several regions of the world.  A ready to use mix, STK REGEV® is used exactly as other fungicides, but with the added benefits of reduced chemical residues and much better resistance management due to its highly complex formulation of Tea Tree Oil and Difenoconazole. This easy  to use fungicide serves as a ‘bridge,’ enabling farmers who have never used any biological product to try one, without having to mix, rotate or do anything differently, thereby expanding the use of biological products for sustainable agriculture. Commenting on the Agreement, STK CEO, Arye Tenenbaum declared, “We are very pleased to be partnering with such a great company as ADAMA, whose world-class team of experts will promote the use of these exceptionally innovative and highly-effective biological products to Colombian growers." ADAMA Andeans Countries CEO, Edgardo Iglesias commented, “TIMOREX GOLD® and STK REGEV® complement ADAMA’s portfolio in Colombia. With these highly-advanced technologies, we aim to continue providing valuable services and products to enable farmers to optimize yields and help them grow." STK Colombia Country Manager, Jose A. Estevez added, “I have great expectations for this strategic agreement to accelerate the STK market penetration and sales growth in Colombia.”

EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT ANNOUNCED FOR TIMOREX® GOLD IN SPAIN

STK & Sipcam announce an exclusive Distribution Agreement for Timorex® Gold botanical-based biofungicide in Spain January 23, 2019 (Petach Tikvah, Israel) - STK bio – ag technologies, the innovative Israel-based leader in bio-ag technologies for sustainable agriculture, and Sipcam , a global leader in crop protection products,  are announcing an exclusive agreement for the distribution and market development  of Timorex® Gold bio fungicide throughout Spain. Under this exclusive agreement, Sipcam Iberia will market and sell the product throughout Spain under STK’s trade name, Timorex® Gold. Timorex® Gold is currently approved for use in Spain on cucumber and zucchini, with label extensions applied for grapes, tomatoes, eggplants, pumpkins and gherkins. Timorex® Gold is a highly- effective, eco-friendly, Maximum Residue Level exempted premium biofungicide, meeting the highest standards for sustainable agriculture. Timorex® Gold’s unique mode of action protects plants by rupturing fungus cells, increasing overall plant health and yields for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Timorex® Gold works to protect plants from Botrytis, Powdery Mildew, Black Sigatoka and many other fungal and bacterial diseases. While Timorex® Gold is currently used by growers in over 30 countries in various regions, Spain is the first country is Western Europe to approve its use. The plan is for Timorex® Gold to enter the rest of the Western Europe over the next few years. According to STK CEO Arye Tenenbaum, “The collaboration between STK bio – ag technologies & Sipcam Iberia is a testament to both companies’ commitment to sustainable agriculture and our mutual goal of providing innovative, effective and environmentally friendly solutions to growers. “  Sipcam CEO Pablo Montañés declared, “Sipcam has a rigorous process for identifying the most innovative and effective biological products and companies for distribution partnership.  We look forward to our collaboration with STK and rolling out Timorex® Gold with great success bringing a highly-effective new tool to hundreds of Spanish growers, completing the already interesting Sipcam portfolio in bioprotection.”