Speciality Chemicals Magazine JUL / AUG 2022 - Page 30

Fyteko has developed the first ‘ agribiomolecule ’ based on a natural defence process , says Adrian Bell of Agro Mavens

Crop problem ? Turn to Mother Nature …

Fyteko has developed the first ‘ agribiomolecule ’ based on a natural defence process , says Adrian Bell of Agro Mavens

Agriculture often stands accused of being behind the curve when it comes to modernisation and adopting new practices . A 2015 report from McKinsey named it the world ’ s least digitised industry , using 70 % of the world ’ s fresh water and contributing up to a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions . That said , we need to eat and , as the invasion of Ukraine has shown , this industry is highly susceptible to jitters and price shocks when supply is threatened . Now imagine a future where most of the world ’ s crop-producing countries are also at risk . Agricultural climate scientists see climate change as one of the biggest threats facing agriculture in the next 50 years . “ Truth is , we don ’ t know how serious climate change will be for agriculture . What we do know is that it ’ s not going to be a walk in the park and growing crops is going to become more difficult ,” says Guillaume Wegria . Wegria co-founded sustainable agriculture company Fyteko with Dr Juan Carlos Cabrera in 2014 , specifically to provide the answer to one question : what would nature do ?

“ Agriculture is in transition . It ’ s abundantly clear that we need to move towards a lower-input , more sustainable model that delivers on the dual fronts of productivity and environmental performance . Such a philosophy will not only help us mitigate the effects of climate change , but we can also deal with resource-use efficiency for water and nitrogen , as well as addressing the loss of biodiversity attributed to intensive agriculture .”
Don ' t stress it
Wegria ’ s stated aim is to help forge a bio-based input economy for agriculture , using original research to identify and emulate solutions that already exist in nature . Some scientists suggest that climate change may benefit agriculture . Warmer temperatures might extend growing seasons and expand the cultivation range for certain crops , while higher concentrations of
CO 2 could improve the efficiency of photosynthesis . Equally , climate change might shrink the world ’ s available croplands , as more extreme weather events , new weather patterns and shifting seasons
Figure 1 – Enhanced tolerance to a simulated drought stress of wheat plants growing from seed treated with signal molecule developed by Fyteko
make cultivation less predictable and more challenging . “ We ’ re most concerned about the propensity for greater occurrence of drought events ,” Wegria explains . “ Crops in parts of the world already struggle – and even fail – owing to inadequate rainfall and high