The BioAg Alliance readies new microbial solution to improve corn harvests

Researchers from Monsanto and Novozymes see progress in U.S. field tests, plan to launch corn inoculant in 2017.

The BioAg Alliance, Novozymes’ and Monsanto’s collaboration to improve crop harvests through naturally-occurring microbes, today announced results from its 2015 field trial program. Those results included a corn inoculant product, which increased yields by an average of 4 bushels per acre in U.S. field tests. The product is based on a fungus found in soil and researchers from the two companies have found a way to coat the microbes on corn seeds without harming the microbes’ performance or longevity. The Alliance plans to launch the new solution in the United States in 2017.

“The BioAg Alliance is focused on identifying ways that soil microbial solutions can deliver improved harvests from existing land,” said Brad Griffith, Vice President of Global Microbials for Monsanto. “This work is critically important to farmers as they work to meet demands and preserve their soil system. This breakthrough collaboration is unlocking new insights into soil microbial candidates to benefit farmers and our work with this corn seed inoculant is a great example of the results of our combined research.”

World’s largest microbe research program
Microbial-based solutions are derived from various microbes such as bacteria and fungi. The BioAg Alliance markets two types of microbial products: Inoculant products, which help plants with nutrient uptake, and biocontrol products, which help protect plants against pests and diseases. The products can be applied to seeds before planting, applied to growing crops or applied to soil in-furrow. The companies said that they can be used by farmers that grow broad acre crops such as corn and soy, and on fruits and vegetables. Microbial products can increase crop yields and can complement or replace agricultural chemicals and fertilizers.

The BioAg Alliance is currently running the world’s largest microbial research program to develop the next generation of these products. In 2015, the Alliance tested more than 2,000 microbial strains across 500,000 field trial plots in more than 50 locations in the United States. The companies said results from its U.S. field trial program showed its top new microbes increased corn yields by an average of 4-5 bushels per acre and soy yields by an average of 1.5 bushels per acre.

The BioAg Alliance expects to continue testing thousands of strains across a broad range of environments in extensive U.S. field trials in 2016.

“I believe we will witness a microbial revolution in agriculture”, said Thomas Schäfer, Vice President of BioAg research at Novozymes. “The world needs to produce more crops from our arable land while using fewer resources. The more we learn about microbes and their symbiotic relationships with plants, the more we realize how key they are to this challenge.”

Today, The BioAg Alliance’s products are used on around 65 million acres, but Monsanto and Novozymes envision that their products will be used on 250-500 million acres globally by 2025.

The agricultural market for microbials is estimated at $1.8 billion, while the market for traditional fertilizers and pesticides totals $240 billion.

The 2015 field trial results were announced as part of Monsanto’s annual pipeline update. For more information, go to

What is a field trial?
Agricultural field trials are conducted to compare the yields of different varieties of crops or crop inputs under realistic conditions or in the actual situations for which they are intended. These trials are an important part in the development of products for use in agriculture as they provide information that helps assess the performance of the new product.

Field trials can involve several phases including field testing, which include screening and selection of a small number of plants. Small-scale trials typically yield results that can be used for further screening and selection of plants for testing in larger field trials.

What is an inoculant?
Inoculants are microbes, such as bacteria or fungi, which provide a beneficial effect when added to soil or plants. Inoculants can enhance availability and uptake of nutrients, for example by fixing nitrogen from the air or by breaking down inorganic soil phosphates so these nutrients become available to plants.


About The BioAg Alliance
First announced in December 2013, the BioAg Alliance is unique in the industry, bringing together Novozymes’ BioAg operations and capabilities within microbial discovery, development and production with Monsanto’s microbial discovery, advanced biology, field testing and commercial capabilities. The result is a comprehensive discovery, development and commercial collaboration to help farmers globally meet the challenge of producing more with less in a sustainable way – for the benefit of agriculture, consumers, the environment and society at large.

About Monsanto
Monsanto is committed to bringing a broad range of solutions to help nourish our growing world. We produce seeds for fruits, vegetables and key crops – such as corn, soybeans, and cotton – that help farmers have better harvests while using water and other important resources more efficiently. We work to find sustainable solutions for soil health, help farmers use data to improve farming practices and conserve natural resources, and provide crop protection products to minimize damage from pests and disease. Through programs and partnerships, we collaborate with farmers, researchers, nonprofit organizations, universities and others to help tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. To learn more about Monsanto, our commitments and our more than 20,000 dedicated employees, please visit: and Follow our business on Twitter® at, on the company blog, Beyond the Rows® at or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.

About Novozymes
Novozymes is the world leader in biological solutions. Together with customers, partners and the global community, we improve industrial performance while preserving the planet’s resources and helping build better lives. As the world’s largest provider of enzyme and microbial technologies, our bioinnovation enables higher agricultural yields, low-temperature washing, energy-efficient production, renewable fuel and many other benefits that we rely on today and in the future. We call it Rethink Tomorrow.

Media contacts
Johan Melchior, Novozymes
+45 3077 0690

Lee Quarles, Monsanto
+1 (314) 406 5739