Of course, the word “resistance” is usually on the minds of farmers and their agronomists, and biologicals can help prevent the problem by bringing in those additional modes of action. “We’re not walking away from synthetic chemistry; we’re known as ‘the chemical company,’ ” says BASF’s Clark. “We’re seeing incremental benefits from biological and plant health benefits, as well.”

Over at Bayer CropScience, the purchase of AgraQuest in 2012 started the company down the biological road. The California-based AgraQuest has several biological-based products, including fungicides and insecticides. For example, its Serenade MAX uses Bacillus subtilis to destroy disease pathogens in plants.

During a conversation at the Bayer CropScience annual press conference, CEO Liam Condon talked about biologicals and their role at the company.

He explained that AgraQuest has a “fantastic technology base,” and they want to get the products commercialized and fully integrated into the pipeline as fast as possible. “We want to develop the data that is needed to convince growers about the efficacy of these products,” Condon said.

Biologicals bring exciting science to the game of pest control, using nature to break through a yield-robbing disease or other pest’s defenses in new ways. It’s an area worth watching as companies ramp up development efforts. And the regulatory approval process is more favorable, as well.

“The process through the regulatory phase is usually two to three years,” says FMC’s Douglas. “That’s what we’ve seen so far, so our product time frame is later in this decade.”