Biologicals: snake oil or science, and how do we know?

Biologicals are touted as one possible solution to help farmers shift toward lower chemical intensity production while increasing yields. Companies, with solutions from biostimulants to biopesticides to biofertilizers, are promising natural, chemical-free alternatives and complements to existing inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. But biologicals also have a reputation for being ‘snake oil,’ with companies making claims that seem too good to be true, or that don’t stack up outside the lab.

So what’s the science behind biologicals, and how do we know they work? And when they do work, how do we get them in the hands of more farmers?

This episode features Jarrett Chambers, founder and President of ATP Nutrition, a Canadian plant nutrition company, and Shane Thomas, agronomist and author of Upstream Ag Insights. In it, we discuss:

  • What biologicals are, and how to think about the different categories

  • What questions investors, retailers, and farmers are asking about biologicals (and why they’re different)

  • What’s driving interest in biologicals, and how the science behind them is evolving

  • What characteristics, business models, and incentives can help ensure biologicals fit into established farming systems.

  • How digital tools are being used to bring credibility to the biologicals market

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