How Biological Solutions Can Keep Your Farm Healthy and Productive

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Corn field at sunrise

As a farmer, you’re always looking toward the future. You know you have to plan ahead to stay ahead of the curveballs Mother Nature constantly throws your way. And you also know — better than most people — just how many curveballs Mother Nature can throw.

For example: Over the years, you’ve likely seen at least one weed or pest develop resistance to at least one control solution. So, you understand it’s essential that you stay up to speed on the latest tools and technologies that can control those pests to help optimize yield potential and ROI season after season.

“We’re losing actives [ingredients] to resistance. One thing about nature is that it does not stay static for a long time, and we need the introduction of new modes of action very fast to keep ahead of pests,” says Brooks Coetzee, global biology leader, Corteva Agriscience.

Coetzee says one way the agriculture industry is introducing those new modes of action is by turning to the solutions nature already provides: biologicals.

A Closer Look at Biologicals

Biological solutions are defined as crop treatments that are either living, derived from naturally occurring materials, or when synthesized are  structurally identical to natural materials. Biologicals are not genetically modified.

And while biocontrols — which are biologicals that can control pests — may be the first type of biologicals that come to mind, there are several categories these solutions can fall under. These include:

  • Biocontrols are solutions that can control pests like insects or fungi, offering additional modes of action and complementing integrated pest management solutions.
  • Biostimulants are solutions that can:
    • mitigate crop stresses from lack of water and extreme temperatures
    • enhance nutrient efficiency by helping crops make better use of available nutrients
    • support plant functions that result in improved growth, development, quality and yield
  • Pheromones are solutions that offer further options to manage targeted pests and are used to disrupt the mating behavior of certain crop destructive insects.


Coetzee says, when used correctly, biologicals are very effective and provide farmers additional benefits, including:

  • Sustainability: Biologicals are typically sustainable products that offer environmentally friendly options for farmers to enhance their agronomic practices, utilization of water and use less fertilizer.
  • Diversity: Biologicals allow farmers to introduce new modes of action in their operations and implement integrated pest management programs that can help to mitigate and/or prevent resistance.
  • Flexibility: Biologicals are often registered for a wide variety of crops and can typically be applied alongside traditional synthetic solutions, enhancing operational efficiencies for farmers. 


Coetzee says another asset of biologicals is that they can make certain restrictions easier for farmers to work within.

“For example, biocontrol products may be more effective in staying under maximum residue levels, known as MRLs, in food and feed, and biological products provide shorter pre-harvest intervals” Coetzee says.

With all the benefits biologicals can provide, Coetzee says it’s important to note that they are not meant to replace synthetic solutions. He says a balanced approach that uses both types of products in tandem is the best way forward.

“The main idea is that this is an integrated system where we want to optimize what is already happening, adding an additional mode of action and extending the conventional products’ effectiveness,” Coetzee says. “It’s a way of finding a natural solution that you can add to your existing practices to help take care of some of your economic challenges and yield losses that you may suffer.”    

The Future of Biologicals

Coetzee says biologicals will have a major impact on the future of farming. And while biologicals can certainly seem like the “next big thing,” he says these solutions have a long history in farming. One of the first examples of a biocontrol solution was used in China more than 2,000 years ago. Farmers used a natural predator to control aphids that were destroying citrus yield.

Even with this established history, you may have a lot of questions and maybe even a little bit of skepticism about using biologicals. You can’t afford to use inputs that won’t add to your ROI. That’s why Coetzee says it’s important to thoroughly research and discuss these products with your trusted advisers to find the right ones for your farm. He also advises working with companies you trust.

“Now more than ever, we need to have a transparent science-based approach, and that’s critical,” Coetzee says. “I am personally very passionate about incorporating or adopting new technology, but I have a caveat: It needs to be scientifically proven.”

Corteva has been partnering with some of the most prominent biological technology companies to bring a range of biological solutions to market over the next few years. Coetzee says Corteva also has been working with scientists and farmers across the globe, extensively testing these solutions to make sure they work and to pinpoint how farmers can use them to get the best results.

For example, UtrishaN nutrient efficiency optimizer is a biostimulant that naturally captures nitrogen from the air for crops to use to optimize plant growth and production for maximum yield potential. Last year, Corteva ran field trials of Utrisha N on roughly 150,000 acres across the United States. This year, Corteva will run field trials on about 200,000 acres in the United States. Similar trials are being done in Europe and South America.

Utrisha N is available for the 2022 growing season, as are three other biologicals from Corteva:


If you’re thinking about adding biological products to your crop protection program, talk with your local ag retailer about what will work best for your farm. You also can visit the biologicals website on Corteva.us to learn more about these solutions from Corteva that can keep your farm healthy and productive today and tomorrow.


Bexfond, Hearken, Instinct NXTGEN, SosdiaStress, SosdiaStress Plus and Utrisha N nutrient efficiency optimizer and Instinct NXTGEN® are not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions.