Interview by Laia Cortel, Director of Bioiberica - Plant Health, for New Ag International on the occasion of the Biostimulants World Congress
Tuesday, 14 November 2023
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Bioiberica is a company that crosses many industries, but at its core is an enzymatic extraction technology. Please can you expand on how biostimulants are central to the growth of Bioiberica since it was established in 1975?
Bioiberica is a one health company, it means that from its origins it has embraced a circular model as the motor to valorise all its active ingredients and byproducts, from pharmaceutical active ingredients to feed and bioag. The manufacture of L-α-Amino acid based biostimulants have given the way to add value to the agriculture sector, closing the circle with the end-consumer who eats the food, coming from agriculture, as a source of energy and health.
You have one of the most established biostimulants on the market in Terra-Sorb®. What improvements have you made to this product over the last 35 years?
Terra-Sorb® range of biostimulants is our most well-known branded products and one of the most used Bioiberica’s Biostimulants around the world. I like to say that Terra-Sorb® is unique but so versatile due to the different markets and conditions where it is used.
And it is unique because it has evolved with the different markets and adapt to different crops requirements. There is a Terra-Sorb® for drip irrigation to optimize fertilization, Terra-Sorb® formula for taking the most of high-value crops and a totally compatible Terra-Sorb® for field crops programs.
Amino acids is your business but what are the raw materials? Do all your amino acid products come from the same raw material?
We work with several types of natural raw materials such as animal, plant and more recently microbial based, depending on requirements, but according to our expertise, animal origin offers higher biological richness of proteins and a more balanced amino acidic profile for our L-α-amino acid based biostimulants. Also, the method of obtention of our biostimulant formulas based on enzymatic hydrolysis is key in guaranteeing biostimulant activity, high purity of the ingredients, high compatibility in blending andhomogeneity batch to batch.
Let’s dive into the technical part. Can you briefly describe your enzymatic hydrolysis process and explain why this can produce a biostimulant effect.
Bioiberica is an extractive industry, that means that all our active ingredients come from natural raw materials which are extracted using an exclusive technology named Enzyneer®, which uses enzymes to obtain L-α-amino acids and other bioactive compounds that acts in synergy to stimulate the physiological processes of plants. Bioactive compounds efficacy has been contrasted with studies on the regulation of photosynthesis and efficiency in nutrition, bioassays of hormone-like activity and analysis of gene expression. Besides, all our active ingredients are REACH and organic certified.
In recent years Bioiberica has moved in biostimulants emerging markets such as Brazil, CamCar region and the U.S. How were the experiences, main challenges faced and the successful strategy when introducing to these new markets?
It has not been easy, and still an “ongoing process” in some countries. The fact that these products are from natural origin, leaving no residues and the development of country regulations have helped the rapid establishment of these products as part of the technology farmers use to grow their crops aiming to maximize yields and fruit quality. The cost/benefit of their use and the increasing demand for environmentally friendly products that help reduce other inputs such as synthetic fertilizers and plant protection products are factors worth considering incorporating these products in current farmer’s programs.
For instance, one of our cases of success has been the introduction of our Terra-Sorb® to banana crops in several countries. Because of the wet conditions, they are applying so many plant protection products, but they are also more and more limited to chemical residues as banana is an export crop. At the beginning I remember that not any grower believed of what Terra-Sorb® biostimulant can do for them, but once they saw how by using our biostimulant they could manage the reduction of the chemical load by not losing PPP efficacy, then the perception changed completely. Now, it is nice to see how our products are used as a regular solution to their crops program.
Bioiberica has always distinguished itself to work with the higher standards of quality, social responsibility, and sustainability. Which is the last achievement and next objective regarding the impact of the company on the environment?
As a corporation, we’re acutely aware of the impact of our operations on the environment, and deeply committed to creating a positive influence on the planet to ignite a more promising future for people, animals, and plants. We’re investing in sustainable practices across all of our processes, from the sourcing of raw materials (responsibly) to reducing energy consumption and waste generation.
A key avenue through which we manifest this commitment is by actively contributing to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). As part of this pledge, we are steadfastly working towards a substantial reduction of 30 percent in our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 – and striving for complete climate neutrality by 2050. We have meticulously designed our production systems to minimise water consumption, energy usage and the utilisation of auxiliary raw materials. Since 2006, we’ve successfully reused approximately 21 percent of our treated wastewater, channelling it into various activities across our manufacturing operations. But our aspirations don’t stop there – we want to boost this reusage to 50 percent. Additionally, we have set our sights on achieving a major milestone in our energy sourcing practices by 2024, at which point we plan to power our electric al supply with 100 percent renewable sources.
And finally, a short one to finish on. What’s in the pipeline?
We are currently developing probiotic biostimulation projects through our new proprietary fermentation and patent pending technology named Priming Tech™. In this technology we use our own strains of microorganisms with nutrients mobilizing and solubilizing properties that allow us to optimize fertilizer resources, while protecting the health of the soil and promoting local microbiota diversity.