Bioceres Crop Solutions Corporation – Building the Future
Bioceres Crop Solutions Corporation is an agri-tech company dedicated to developing solutions for preserving the environment. It has been operating for over 40 years and as of last year entered the New York Stock Exchange. We learn how this agri-tech company is looking to create a carbon-neutral farming future.
Bioceres has evolved into a fully-integrated provider of crop productivity technologies, designed with the specific goal of easing the transition to carbon-neutral agriculture. The agri-tech company offers solutions that give farmers and other stakeholders economic incentives to adopt environmentally friendly production practices. Bioceres’ unique biotech platform has high-impact, patented technologies for seeds and microbial ag-inputs, on top of the next generation in crop nutrition and protection solutions. Bioceres also offers its HB4® – drought-tolerant seed technology program and is bringing digital solutions to support growers’ decisions and provide end-to-end traceability for production outputs.
The ag-input industry, which is worth about $300 billion globally, is broken up into three segments- crop nutrition, crop protection, and seeds, all of which are operated by Bioceres.
“We are developing microorganisms to help crops utilize atmospheric nitrogen instead of depending on chemical fertilisers as the predominant nutrient source,” says Federico Trucco, CEO of Bioceres. “That provides an environmental benefit but also a cost-effective solution for farmers in the crop nutrition space. In addition to biological nutrition, we are utilizing micro-beading technology to deploy fertilisers more effectively, reducing application rates to about one-quarter of those used with conventional fertilisers, minimising waste in the nutrition of crops, and avoiding nutrients leaking all the way to water sourcing or contaminating other environments.”
These are just some of the solutions Bioceres is offering the market. Within the crop protection segment, Bioceres is developing an alternative to fungicidal chemicals in the form of another fungus that serves as a biological means of controlling destructive fungi. It’s equally effective, doesn’t generate resistance and has less environmental impact. Meanwhile, in the seed segment, Bioceres is known globally as the first company to achieve technology for drought tolerance in soybeans and wheat.
“That is the reason why we’re globally known,” Trucco says. “What we did there was incorporate a genetic system derived from sunflowers into these crops.”
Bioceres’ portfolio is highly differentiated with over 200 patents.
“It gives us a unique position in the fastest-growing sub-segments within each of these areas,” Trucco points out.
Working in the agri-tech sector brings unique challenges with it, particularly if the business is international in nature, with a variety of environmental and regulatory issues to navigate.
“We’ve achieved a lot but there’s still a lot we need to achieve,” Trucco explains. “China is the main customer of our soybeans. We also need to be approved in Brazil and other locations. These approvals take time and are often multi-million-dollar investments, but I would argue we are also racing against time. We have a deteriorating planet, and we don’t have much time left to turn that around. So that’s the number one challenge that we face. How do we deploy these solutions as quickly as possible?”
The key to delivering these solutions in a time-effective manner is a combination of company culture and nurturing skills and expertise.
“To deal with these things you need to create human capital and build an organisation that thrives on challenge,” Trucco points out. “You can become blocked by the immensity of what we’re trying to accomplish. Organizations need to understand that global goals can’t be achieved by any one person or entity, but only by a collaborative approach.”
Bioceres does not intend to swoop in and solve these problems all by itself. The word Trucco keeps using is an “ecosystem” of businesses and organisations.
“We use the rules of enterprises and capitalism to creative incentives but at the end of the day we need prosperity to build trust,” Trucco says. “We build an ecosystem in which we’re participating by learning and remaining agile without losing the robustness that some of these operations require around biosafety and human health.”
A Sense of Purpose
Of course, building the human capital that makes this ecosystem possible is a challenge in itself, and Trucco insists it takes a special kind of person to join the Bioceres team.
“We try to identify people with a high sense of purpose, that don’t want to work just for the economic compensation, even though that is always important,” Trucco says. “We want people interested in building for the greater good. I’m a true believer in that and it’s the first layer we have to go through in recruitment. Finding people who know we serve a greater purpose. At the end of the day, we’re all united by that purpose and need to collaborate in a selfless manner.”
It’s this instinct that drives the philosophy which permeates everything Bioceres does.
“The more you give the more you get,” Trucco says simply. “These aspects are well understood and are part of a consensus approach to recruiting managers and senior-level personnel, but I believe we’ve been built as an organisation that has these values imprinted from day one. The key is to preserve them, not to lose them as we grow. That is a constant challenge that we have. How do we preserve these values when we interview new talents?”
It’s something Trucco has considered at length as the company has grown from 20 people to more than 500.
“We don’t want employees,” he says. “We want partners.”
Looking forwards, Trucco doesn’t pretend to have a crystal ball, but he has high hopes.
“The only way you can be right about predicting the future is to be a participant in the building of that future,” Trucco insists. “We can use the digital revolution and the revolution in the life sciences to accelerate our development, but the specifics of how they come together is hard to predict. We see ourselves playing an important part in the process. At the end of the day, I believe we can rebuild the bridge between urban society and farmers in the rural world.”