“…comparing the chemical with the biological will deprive people of knowing the best solution, that is the integration of these technologies…”
Arnelo Nedel is co-founder and commercial director of Ballagro Agro Tecnologia, and former president of the Brazilian Association of Biological Control Companies – ABCBio. Ballagro is a Brazilian company, in the agricultural market since 2004.
AgriBrasilis – What is the market for organic products in Brazil?
Arnelo Nedel – Based on market studies, the 2021/22 season ended with a value of US$ 662 million.
Because of the size of the cultivated area, the main crop is soybean, followed by corn, cotton, beans, citrus, and horticulture.
AgriBrasilis – Do biological products complement or replace treatments with chemical products?
Arnelo Nedel – When we focus on sustainable food production, we talk about IPM, that is integrated pest management. Producing food sustainably must mean producing enough to feed the world, in an affordable way. In this way, biological pesticides complement and allow a more rational use of chemicals, in the same way that we use an antibiotic when necessary, when we are sick.
In my opinion, it is a big mistake to compare biological products with chemical ones, when the solution is to integrate. This comparison only makes sense if there is no adequate technical understanding about the use of pesticides.
Especially in a tropical climate, comparing the chemical with the biological will deprive people of knowing the best solution, that is the integration of these technologies. These technologies present totally different mechanisms and forms of evaluation.
For example, when a chemical product presents 60% of pest control, this can be considered a bad result, but if in the same situation a biological product presents 40% of control, this can be excellent, since while this biological product is integrated in the environment, this result tends to grow after more uses. In the case of chemicals, the situation is reversed. In that way, it is best to integrate rather than compare these products.
AgriBrasilis – What is the purpose of the mixtures of microorganisms in biological products? When is it advantageous to use a single organism product or a mixture?
Arnelo Nedel – The purpose is to take advantage of the beneficial interactions between some strains of certain microorganisms. In many cases, in addition to a better effect, we have a wider range of targets.
When there is a very specific target, it can be advantageous to just have a single microorganism, focusing on that target. However, we must consider that, when we talk about biological management, in general we must think beyond the crop that is being cultivated at the time. We should think about what will come later, about the managing og the production system. Thus, normally the integration of strains and microorganisms is advantageous.
AgriBrasilis – What is the focus of Ballagro’s product development? What’s in the pipeline for the next few years?
Arnelo Nedel – Focus will always be on the main needs of the farmer. One objective is to constantly evolve in formulation quality, so that we are increasingly successful in the use of biological products in the field. The higher the technology employed, the greater the establishment of microorganisms in the farming system.
Regarding the pipeline, we are focused on new microorganisms and new formulations, with greater efficiency and longer shelf life.