I had the pleasure of attending the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit late last month in San Francisco, which has become one of the premier gatherings of farmers, biologists and technologists working together to feed a growing population on a warming planet. I met with many of my peers and heard first-hand the latest shared concerns and great hopes for the industry. There are too many great developments to share in one blog post, but the weeks since the event have allowed for reflection on a few takeaways that I found to be most important..


First, the importance of paying attention to farmer economics is more important than ever. Many of the technologies that affect growers are developed far from the field, even though farmers are the critical end customer. It’s clear right now that they are struggling with reduced yields and tight margins. As farmers continue to grapple with increasingly resistant pests and diseases, the requirement for increasing use of costly pesticides is pressuring those margins, especially in a down year for crop prices. We found good receptivity at the conference for adoption of what we are calling “smart agriculture”, that is the adoption of plant “priming” to extract the maximum productivity from crop genetics in order to increase yields and minimize the need for more costly inputs. Many of our conversations revolved around innovative ways to incorporate the next generation of biostimulants (such as priming) into farmer’s production processes.


Second, the enthusiasm for biologicals and biostimulants has only increased among biotechnologists and agricultural leaders, especially as farmer adoption grows. A 2024 outlook survey of agricultural outfits from CropLife found 72% of respondents are planning to increase the number of biological products their companies sell to grower-customers during the coming year. This is a marked increase from the 67% of respondents giving the same answer in CropLife’s first biologicals survey in 2017. Jennifer Marston of AgFunder recently wrote an excellent piece on the state of biologicals in agriculture, including the subsectors of the market, their respective histories, the questions that remain, and the optimism that exists for the future.


Third, it’s clear that the economics and attitudes of larger agricultural technology companies are catching up with the ground-breaking technology that has now demonstrated its worth across countless peer-reviewed studies and field trials. Key indicators of market maturation  — M&A actvity and strategic technology partnerships — have recently proliferated in the biological space. The latest is Certis Biologicals and SDS Biotech K.K. announcing a collaboration agreement for the development and commercialization of biological products.Companies like Corteva, Syngenta and Bayer have also made major moves to acquire or accelerate research and technology in the biologicals space. In turn, farmers are adopting biologicals at an increasing rate. A 2023-24 McKinsey survey of farmers in the United States saw nearly 30% of respondents report they had used a biological input (biofertilizer, biocontrol, or biostimulant). 


It’s clear that the biologicals sector is going places in the years to come, and Zero Gravity is well positioned to push biostimulants into the mainstream. We’re ready to grow, alongside farmers raising a variety of vital crops across the globe.