The German company Helm and the biotech company Protergium from Rosario joined forces and launched the first bio-stimulant developed from a microbial consortium.
Helm Argentina and Protergium launched Innobio Soybean, the first bio-stimulant for seed treatment and fungicide action created from a consortium of microorganisms and one hundred percent biological. Innobio is also the first product launched by this alliance between the 120-year-old German group, a leader in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and crop nutrition and protection industry, and the biotechnology company from Rosario, which is part of Terragene.
This firm was created by Conicet researchers in 2006 to develop products for infection control in the hospital sector, and in 2016 began to build its division of biological products for agriculture.
Terragene’s spin-off, Protergium, was born from this development and four years ago began working with biomolecules and intelligent microorganisms for crop protection. In April, Helm Argentina and Terragene signed an agreement for developing and commercializing these products.
This week, the first product resulting from this union was released. Innobio Protergium Soybean offers a seed treatment composed of Innobio Protergium Terra, a microbial consortium between a bacterium and a fungus (Bacillus velezensis T2 and Trichoderma harzianum TH10), and Innobio Protergium N-Fix, a specific inoculant (Bradyrhizobium japonicum), unique in the market. The synergy between both microorganisms improves the growth, adaptation, and survival of the crop under biotic and abiotic stress conditions. This product also facilitates the solubilization and absorption of nutrients through the excretion of extracellular enzymes that transform organic compounds into inorganic ones. It can compete effectively for the colonization of the rhizosphere, preventing pathogens from interacting with plant roots.
At the same time, it activates the plants’ natural defense mechanisms, preventing pathogen advance and producing diffusible and volatile metabolites with activity for the control of pathogenic fungi of soil and seed. These distinctive characteristics of both microorganisms are combined in a single formulation to achieve maximum potential for growth promotion and fungi control. Mauro Edalian, general manager of Helm Argentina, explained that the new product is available from this season for soybean and, from next season, for wheat and barley. They will also launch a product for potatoes.
Pablo Baloriani, from Asesoragro, was in charge of carrying out the field trials in the core region. He highlighted, as a result, the unified emergence of the plant, the phenotypic state, with a more turgid green color than the control, and the increase in root length. He also emphasized that where the seed treated with this technology was sown, “the yield per hectare increased and the following wheat crop improved.”
Osvaldo Barreiro, Helm’s sales and marketing manager emphasized that Innobio Protergium is a user-friendly product. He pointed out that it gives more life to the soil through the seed as it improves its structure. Helm is very optimistic about the rapid acceptance of the biostimulant in the market. In addition, the company has a worldwide presence that guarantees its internationalization. The company’s executives emphasized that they have just tripled their sales in the country and expect to double them in the next two years.
For several years, Helm has been undergoing a transformation process focused on creating biological products with higher added value and 100% environmentally sustainable. The challenges of the new agriculture, called to meet the growing demand for food while addressing the environmental crisis, are driving a wave of partnerships between companies traditionally dedicated to crop protection and nutrition and biotechnology companies. “It is no longer an era of change but a change of era,” Barreiro pointed out.
Adrián Rovetto, the founder of Terragene and Protergium, agreed: “We are living in a moment of crisis. There are no more than 60 crops left in the world due to desertification and the loss of arable land”. In this sense, he pointed out that biotechnology and molecular biology “will be part of the challenge to feed the world population.”
He explained that the products developed are not GMOs but biological developments arising from the stimulation of elements present in nature. Innobio was born from the combination of two strains chosen from a wide library that the laboratory has, resulting from a selection made in all regions of the country.
Protergium works through two research platforms. The one that develops microbial consortia, and the one that intervenes in the form of communication between soil microorganisms and plants, to stimulate them through small proteins that the plant sees as if it were a pest and generates strategies to immunize them.