Plant Response, Inc., a biologicals focused company headquartered at Raleigh, N.C., recently announced its acquisition of WISErg.
WISErg is a Seattle-area startup that has created a system for upcycling nutrients from food scraps. The nutrients can then be used in fertilizer and nutrient efficiency products that can enhance plant and soil health.
The company has sales in the U.S. and Mexico, and Plant Response is strategically building its platform of biologicals and nutrient efficiency technologies — this being its third acquisition.
“Our focus is really bringing biological products to the market, accelerating the adoption, and really building the industry’s broadest and most robust portfolio in the marketplace,” says Jeff Wheeler, chief commercial officer at Plant Response.
A lot of companies work in the biologicals space, but Plant Response is a “pure play” biological company that looks at the market in three segments: biocontrol products (e.g. biofungicides, bioinsecticides), nutrient enhancement products, and biostimulants. The company focuses on making their products out of materials of natural origin, or from reclaimed resources.
Biologicals potentially have a good fit in the regenerative agriculture narrative, and Wheeler says that it’s critical for policy makers, in all parts of the world, to consider how to do this at scale.
“From a policy standpoint, from a consumer preference, until you’re able to do that at, at scale, and farmers see that they can utilize products that can encourage regenerative agriculture, or what we like to call restorative agriculture, they really won’t move to or adopt those products,” says Wheeler.
While agriculture has seen many singular innovation events over time — synthetic fertilizers, crop protection products, and trait technologies and genetic advancements — Wheeler points out that biologicals have the potential to work in combination with each of those innovations or to work across all three of those trends.
There’s a lot of pretenders out there, but the scientific and agronomic backing (an investor syndicate of nine companies) behind Plant Response ensures that the mode of action of each product is clear. The second step that provides credibility is testing plot products at a commercial scale with farmers, not just in-house or with a third party company, says Wheeler.
Product testing doesn’t just start with corn at Plant Response either. “We’ve tested our products extensively in Canada,” says Wheeler, in wheat and canola.
Catch the full conversation between Wheeler and RealAg founder Shaun Haney for more on the regulatory process and how industry can participate in the biologicals market: