For any sector every year there is a tremendous supply of conferences, trade fairs, exhibitions, networking and partnering meetings, investment forums and other events. Many of them declare among their objectives to bring together key industry players and to expose the state of the art of the sector, the former being much simpler than the latter.
One of the larger events for the sector of Biostimulants and Biopesticides has been recently held in Warsaw between the 26th and the 28th of March, the NEWAG Conference, hosted by one of the most outstanding specialized media about this industry, NeWAG International.
The meeting brought together 700 top executive people from 60 countries, with an impressive attendance from Poland and surrounding countries: manufacturers, suppliers, distributors (of which the whole distribution from Poland and the largest coop in Europe), consultants, scientists, journalists, service providers, etc. 50 exhibitors from around the world, amongst which Futureco Bioscience had its own stand. The event was also used by other organizations to arrange their own meetings such as EBIC (European Biocontrol Industry Council) general Assembly, IFA (Internation Fertilizer Insutries Associaton) meeting of the speciality fertilizer committee, or large companies holding Press conference to announce new mergers/acquisitions and partnerships.
The conference program of the event, performed by with 31 speakers from 18 countries, covered a broad range of subjects: plant nutrition, irrigation, fertigation, biocontrol and of course biostimulants with more than 10 new products and technologies introduced on this occasion. This year the NewAG conference also had a paper covering the impact of biotechnology on irrigation, plant nutrition, biostimulants and plant protection/biocontrol.
Most of the speeches were based on the lapidary conclusion of FAO studies, which collect the unstoppable growth of a population that in 2050 will require twice as much food for nourishment than nowadays. The increase is quite far to be proportional to the availability of fields or agricultural productivity today. This context requires best technological solutions to exploit infertile surfaces and optimize the performance of those that are already being used for agricultural production for food and feed.
The conference began with sessions on technological convergence between ICT and biotechnology, with special emphasis on all the mechanisms of remote control and precision instrumentation to increase the efficiency of water consumption and improve yields fertigation. The remaining sessions addressed the use of adjuvants to enhance the effectiveness of absorption of fertilizers by the plant, the use of bioestimulants based on micronutrients to enhance the final product and its nutritional value, as well as the use of microorganisms in symbiotic relationship that help plants to be healthier and get to the final consumer as a high quality product.
The use of microorganisms as bioestimulants does not seem to be as advanced as their use in biocontrol. There was also a session on biopesticides. In this regard, advances in research on relationships between living organisms to improve the quality of crops and due to a symbiotic relationship imbalance, is often selected by the degree of development of differents branches of science studies. This justifies, for example, bacteria are more commonly used to invetsigate and develop bioestimulants than mycorrhizae or nematodes, although there are references and examples in the three different species that can give a similar result.
Nematodes and mycorrhizae often escape the control of R&D, this has not to do necessarily to be less effective, it is related to the methodologies to test its efficacy and register its environmental impact that make them more difficult to study and manufacture them than those methods employed for the analysis and controlled growth conditions of microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria, which are widely used in many biotechnology applications, from human and animal health to the food industry.
Participating in a program of papers that shed light on the actual state of a sector is difficult if done from the representation of entities such as companies, universities, governments and research groups. It carries the risk of not exposing the standpoint of the art for instead advertising the company who has the luck of being in the program. Contribution to knowledge is also difficult to manage without compromising relevant information obtained from heavy investment in R&D that can be a shortcut or competitive advantage.
Still, the scientific program was varied and of quality, and provoked discussion and opposition between its participants, for example, supporters and opponents of the use of chelated elements to enhance the absorption of micronutrients by plants; or who is favor or against that all has been already invented, as developers of mechanical irrigation systems or producers of agrobiological solutions respectively, both complementary and dependent of each other methods in the B&Bs activities and market.
Next year’s conference will be held in Dehli/India mid-March. In the meantime NewAG will celebrate its own regional conference in China on june 2014, focusing on fertigation and Foliar feeding.