Doll, J., T. Ulbrich, and A. Reimer. 2020. Biologicals: The new Green Revolution or snake oil for ag? Reflections from agricultural stakeholders. Agricultural Research & Technology 25:556293.
Modern agricultural systems are increasingly reliant on inputs and technological developments from private industry. In recent years, there has been a rapid growth in the market for inputs (seed treatments and inoculants, foliar sprays, etc.) derived from biological (especially microbial) origins, so-called “biological” products. Farmer use of these emerging technologies and farm advisors’ views of these products have not been systematically investigated. We report an exploratory effort to understand this emerging market and agricultural stakeholders’ perspectives on these new products. This research revealed significant communication and information disconnects between agricultural stakeholders and the farmers with whom they work. Four major themes emerged from our research:
a. the biologicals market is competitive and growing;
b. retailer and advisor knowledge of product development and mechanisms is lacking;
c. definitions of key terms are complex and contested; and
d. product efficacy is largely evaluated on production impacts (i.e. yield).
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