The Mosaic Co. and BioConsortia Inc. have entered into a collaboration to develop and launch nitrogen-fixing microbial products for corn, wheat and other major non-legume row crops.
Modern agriculture depends on nitrogen fertilizers as an essential tool to grow the major food crops, with over 100 million tons applied each year to help produce half of the world’s food. However, nitrogen fertilizer applications can be inefficient with losses to air, ground water and waterways, sometimes having unintended consequences. Fortunately, there are new alternatives to providing this critical nutrient for plant growth. Through a process called “biological nitrogen fixation,” beneficial plant-associated microbes are able to naturally produce nitrogen in forms that are desired by plants, thereby reducing the reliance on synthetic inputs of nitrogen.
Mosaic and BioConsortia are collaborating to develop beneficial microbial products designed to reduce the amount of conventional nitrogen fertilizer application, while increasing crop yields and grower revenue. The Mosaic-BioConsortia partnership is aimed at developing yield enhancing in-furrow and seed treatment products that can be used either stand-alone or in combination with conventional chemistries and fertilizers.
Significantly reducing the use of conventional nitrogen fertilizer requires innovation not yet seen in currently available biological products. However, Davis, California-based BioConsortia has already discovered naturally occurring spore forming microbes capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen and colonizing corn, wheat and other non-leguminous plants. With targeted traditional and cutting-edge strain improvement and gene editing technologies, we will develop natural and improved strain microbial products that will increase crop yields while maintaining or reducing N fertilizer inputs.
The collaboration project will utilize BioConsortia’s patented Advanced Microbial Selection (AMS) process and other proprietary tools, including multi-trait screening, colonization technologies, ge-nomics, and gene editing, as well as BioConsortia’s existing collection of nitrogen fixing bacteria. The collaboration has a comprehensive development and field trial phase, followed by a distribution agreement for row crops in the Americas.
In addition to nitrogen fixing products, Mosaic will also have access to BioConsortia’s pipeline of superior phosphorus and potassium solubilization microbial products that could be combined with Mosaic’s existing range of potash and phosphate fertilizers to deliver a new generation of improved fertilizer products, thereby reducing growers input costs and boosting crop yields. The ultimate tar-get is to deliver products with superior effectiveness, at lower costs, higher yields, and an improved environmental profile.
“We are excited to partner with Mosaic, a proven leader in agriculture,” said BioConsortia CEO Marcus Meadows-Smith. “We believe their established expertise and market access in the field of fertilizers and crop nutrition is the perfect route to market for ground-breaking nitrogen-fixing microbial products. Our microbes will complement and expand Mosaic’s established crop nutrient business to the benefit of growers throughout the Americas.”
Mosaic will have exclusive rights to the nitrogen fixing technology for core row crops in the Americas, initially focused on corn, wheat, cotton and sugarcane. BioConsortia will retain all rights to the technology for fruit, vegetable, turf and ornamental crops and for all uses outside of the Americas. Under the agreement BioConsortia will receive an upfront payment and research funding, as well as royalties. Additional details about the agreement were not disclosed.