KWS has been working on the further development of biologicals for many years. With a new stabilization process, beneficial microorganisms can now be preserved in microbeads and applied as a seed treatment for various crops – a breakthrough in the industry. Following intensive development work with the biotech company Evologic Technologies, KWS now offers a first seed treatment product based on preserved beneficial bacteria.
Biologicals are beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and other substances of natural origin. They support, strengthen, and protect arable crops, and in this way contribute to sustainable agriculture. Not all beneficial microorganisms can be used in seed applications as they might be too sensitive to survive the dressing process or prolonged storage. Those sensitive microorganisms can only be applied in an additional step immediately before sowing.
To extend the portfolio of seed treatments to all microorganisms and to offer farmers additional options in biological seed dressing, KWS has been successfully researching the stabilization of these biologicals with the Graz University of Technology. They developed a process, in which bacteria are first embedded in microscopically fine beads and then applied to the seed in this preserving formulation. By applying beneficial biologicals as part of the dressing, the seedling is efficiently supported in its development right at the beginning. In addition, the amount of work required while sowing is reduced.
KWS partner Evologic Technologies, a spin-off from the Vienna University of Technology, has succeeded in developing the method into an industrial production process and scaling it to meet the requirements of commercial seed production. The partnership’s first success is a sugarbeet biostimulant that will be rolled out on the market in 2022. “For some of the process steps, technical solutions had to be designed and implemented for production. Realization was a true process engineering challenge,” says Dr. Wieland Reichelt, CEO of Evologic Technologies.
This product is a combination of six strains of bacteria specifically selected for sugarbeet. They support juvenile plant development and yield potential under stress conditions such as drought or cold. Varieties with this new technology will be available for sowing in 2022 in first European countries. “After intensive joint R&D work, we can now offer farmers a specific biological for sugarbeet as a seed dressing for the very first time,” explains Jörg Philipps, Head of the KWS Sugarbeet Business Unit.
The raw material used for the preservation in microbeads is plant-based. That means that the process offers solutions for both conventional and organic farming. Dr. Nora Temme, Manager Biologicals at KWS, explains: “We are pioneers with this new process. The application of beneficial microorganisms directly in the seed dressing efficiently strengthens the seedling right at the very start of development. Those biologicals offer sustainable benefits for soil health and yield protection and are one part of the solutions for integrated crop protection. We are currently developing further products for KWS crops, for example rye and rapeseed, based on this technology, and will offer them as seed treatments in the KWS INITIO program.”
Background information on biologicals:
Seed treatments offer protection of sensitive seeds from diseases and pests and support their development directly after sowing. In addition to, for example, synthetic crop protection agents, these dressings can also contain so-called biologicals. Biologicals consist of microorganisms or substances of natural origin (e. g. plant extracts) that take on a variety of functions: They can promote root and shoot vigor of plants, strengthen them against external stress factors or contribute to improved nitrogen fixation or act as biological crop protection. Biologicals thus make an important contribution to reducing the use of synthetic crop protection products and fertilizers while at the same time ensuring yield performance.
Sustainability starts with the seed – Learn more about our Sustainability Ambition 2030 at www.kws.com/sustainability.