Originally published in AgriBusiness by David Frabotta

CropCoat is showing that there are effective organic control options for insects and disease. Biological startup Crop Enhancement is growing its pilot trials on cocoa, coffee, and almonds and is setting the stage for entry into pistachios, apples, grapes, and higher-value vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach.

“We are generating an approach for safer biological-based crop protection. It is really a new class of product. There are very few products that act the way our product does,” says Jean Pougnier, Crop Enhancement CEO. “We don’t act on the pest. We change the pest’s perception of the environment so that the plants are camouflaged from the insects, and that provides the protection, so it’s a unique technology.”

Read the full article on AgriBusiness.com.

Trials found CropCoat®, a non-toxic biological product, provides a similar level of protection as traditional synthetic pesticides
 

San Jose, CA — February 23, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. PT — Crop Enhancement, a maker of sustainable crop protection products, today announced the results of pilot trials on coffee and almond trees. Crop Enhancement’s solution, CropCoat, takes a different and biological approach than traditional chemical pesticides. Rather than trying to control pests with harsh chemicals, CropCoat coats crops in a non-toxic film to camouflage them and mitigate damage from insects and diseases.

Field trials on coffee trees conducted across Hawaii, Central and South America over the past three years found CropCoat reduces damage caused by the coffee berry borer, a significant pest of coffee, by up to 60%, compared to untreated trees. The trials also found CropCoat is able to successfully control the coffee leafminer, another common enemy of coffee. Coffee treated with CropCoat is not expected to be subject to the import restrictions that many coffees treated with synthetic pesticides face.

Crop Enhancement has also conducted field studies on almond trees in California over the past three years and found CropCoat reduced the damage caused by navel orangeworms, a familiar pest of almonds, by up to 40% compared to trees left untreated. This protection prevents economic losses of several hundred dollars per acre and provides almond growers with a sustainable solution that does not require additional equipment or protective gear for application.

“Crop Enhancement continues to achieve outstanding results in a wide variety of crops and is proving to be a leading biological solution,” said Jean Pougnier, CEO of Crop Enhancement. “We’re able to achieve promising results in a safer, more sustainable way and still see nearly the same efficacy of some of the best chemical products on the market.”

“Biological pest control has the potential to fundamentally change the agricultural industry and these results are exactly what we need to get one step closer in making that shift happen,” said Damiam Hadjuk, chief technology officer at Crop Enhancement. “We remain committed to providing farmers and growers with more sustainable solutions and believe CropCoat will continue to prove itself as a valuable alternative.”

Crop Enhancement recently announced trial results in cocoa as well, which found CropCoat boosted cocoa yields by 33% and increased grower net income by 21%. In addition to coffee, almonds and cocoa, Crop Enhancement’s CropCoat technology targets major fruit and vegetable crops across the world. The company continues to develop its technology and is expanding trials to include apples, leafy vegetables, brassicas, and more. The product is currently available in Indonesia and will become available in the U.S. once registration from the Environmental Protection Agency is received next year.

The application of CropCoat does not require growers to purchase additional equipment and is safe for both workers and the environment. Crop Enhancement’s formulations can be applied in addition to other agricultural inputs such as nutrients, and other active ingredients, enabling farmers to reduce costs.

About Crop Enhancement

Crop Enhancement is pioneering a new approach for safer, biologically-based crop protection, enabling growers to meet increasing demand for sustainably produced food. With Crop Enhancement’s CropCoat® solution, growers now have a nontoxic choice for protecting crops from destructive pests without the need for chemical pesticides and without harm to the environment. Crop Enhancement’s mission is to create innovative, safer, and more sustainable pest control solutions for growers. Visit us at www.crop-enhancement.com.

Latest trial conducted with a group of 30 Indonesian cocoa growers in Cargill’s network demonstrated a 33% increase in crop yields and 21% increased income.

San Jose, CA — January 27, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. PT — Crop Enhancement, a maker of sustainable crop protection products, today announced the commercial launch of its CropCoat® solution after conducting a successful pilot project with Cargill cocoa growers in Indonesia. Growers and producers are now able to purchase Crop Enhancement’s CropCoat® solution to effectively meet sustainability goals and diminish the use of chemical pesticides without negatively impacting production.

 Crop Enhancement’s solution takes a different approach than traditional chemical pesticides. Rather than trying to deter pests with harsh chemicals, CropCoat® coats crops to camouflage them and mitigate damage from insects, and disease. In the latest Indonesia trial conducted by Cargill’s NGO partner Swisscontact with a select group of 30 cocoa farmers, CropCoat® technology has been shown to boost cocoa yields by 33% and increase grower net income by 21%.

 “With an increasing demand for more sustainable pest control options, more and more growers are discovering there are better solutions available that can still meet their needs,” said Jean Pougnier, CEO of Crop Enhancement. “CropCoat® has shown that growers can provide consumers with chemical-free fruits and vegetables without having to change their operations.”

 “The pilot demonstrated that this innovative, non-toxic solution was effective in helping Indonesian cocoa growers improve productivity of their farms, which in turn supports their livelihood and local communities, all of which are very important to Cargill,” added Megan Willis, Asia-Pacific Sustainability Lead, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate.

 In addition to cocoa, Crop Enhancement’s CropCoat® technology was developed to target major fruit and vegetable crops across the world. The company continues to develop its technology and is expanding trials to include almonds, coffee, apple, leafy vegetables, brassicas, and more. The product is currently available in Indonesia and will become available in the U.S. once registration from the Environmental Protection Agency is received.

 According to Crop Enhancement, the application of Crop Enhancement’s formula does not require growers to purchase additional equipment and is safe for both workers and the environment. Crop Enhancement’s formulations can be applied in addition to other agricultural inputs such as nutrients, and other active ingredients, enabling farmers to reduce costs and increase crop yields.

About Crop Enhancement

Crop Enhancement is a venture-backed agriculture technology corporation based in San Jose, California. Founded by renowned materials scientist and serial entrepreneur Dr. David Soane, Crop Enhancement is developing sustainable agrochemical formulations that employ advanced and environmentally friendly products to improve crop yields, eliminate or minimize pesticide use, and enable precise and effective delivery of active ingredients and fertilizers. Visit us at www.crop-enhancement.com.

Originally presented on The Modern Acre by FarmTogether

Damien Hajduk, Ph.D., is the CTO and COO of Crop Enhancement, a San Jose-based startup that works at the intersection of materials science and biology to bring new and effective solutions to agriculture that help growers protect their crops and the environment, while meeting the global need for sustainably produced foods.

In this podcast, Damien joins us to talk about his impressive background that ultimately led him to Crop Enhancement. We discuss the origin story and how they have approached going to market with their sustainable crop solutions. Tune in to learn more!

Tune in to the podcast on The Modern Acre.

Originally published in Forbes by Jennifer Kite-Powell

Michael Lavin, founder and managing partner of Germin8 Ventures, says over the past decade, consumers have shifted their mindset around food in exciting ways.

“Whereas we once favored convenient nutrition at low-cost, over time we have placed greater importance on clean labels and wholesomeness, and now consumers want functional, health-supportive ingredients as well,” said Lavin.

Read the full article on Forbes.com.

Originally published in IFT by Dale Buss

Tomorrow’s grain rows, vegetable fields, and specialty crop groves will be much busier places than the relatively passive acreage of yesterday. On the surface, sensors built into crops will signal soil conditions; digital irrigation systems will precisely direct water streams; and robotic guardians will pull weeds. In the air above, satellites and drones will photograph plants with enough precision to count the spots on a ladybug’s wing. In the soil below, new wonders of botanical manipulation and digital information will optimize available nutrients, elevate plant performance, and store results.

Read the full article on ift.org.

Originally published in New Atlas by Ben Coxworth

While pest insects can have a devastating effect on crops, pesticides can likewise cause a great deal of damage to the environment. That’s where CropCoat comes in, as it’s designed not to kill harmful insects, but to “hide” plants from them instead.

Created by California-based startup Crop Enhancement, CropCoat consists of a proprietary blend of non-toxic ingredients including an undisclosed botanical extract. It gets mixed with water then sprayed onto crops, using conventional agricultural equipment. Within 12 to 24 hours, the water evaporates and the CropCoat hardens into a biodegradable film that coats most of each plant’s stems and leaves.

Read the full article on newatlas.com.

Crop Enhancement Appoints Industry Veteran Jean Pougnier to CEO 

Pougnier brings more than 30 years of global experience as a senior agtech executive to lead the next phase of growth

SAN JOSE, Calif.— Jun 17, 2020: Crop Enhancement Inc., an innovator of sustainable plant-based crop-protection products that protect or enhance crop yields, announced the appointment of Jean Pougnier to CEO from his former role as chief business officer, succeeding Kevin Chen, Ph.D., who moves to a new role as an independent board director of the company, effective June 22.

Pougnier takes leadership of Crop Enhancement at an opportune time in the company’s growth trajectory as further field validation of its CropCoat® technology platform brings the product towards commercialization with key partners and distributors. A highly respected, seasoned executive from the agrochemical industry, Pougnier brings decades of management and business development experience over 30+ years at industry leaders DuPont, FMC, and AMVAC. Notably, he served as global business development director for DuPont’s multi-billion-dollar crop-protection portfolio, and led business development and marketing for AMVAC prior to his joining Crop Enhancement last December.

“It’s an exciting time for Crop Enhancement. Our field trials have proven that our initial product, CropCoat, is a very effective deterrent to pests for several important crops, so we’ve engaged with key partners to optimize it for more applications,” saidPougnier. “I look forward to working closely with our partners to launch Crop Enhancement’s unique technology and provide to growers outstanding pest control in a sustainable way. I would like to thank Kevin for his strong leadership and tireless efforts, which have positioned Crop Enhancement for continued growth.”

“With a full slate of field trials placed for the 2020 season on our CropCoat platform and numerous evaluation engagements underway with agrochemical strategic partners, Crop Enhancement has officially entered into its next phase of growth,” said Chen. “With these objectives secure, I am pleased that the board has approved my nomination of Jean to succeed me to lead the charge in this next chapter of our company’s trajectory. I’m extremely proud of what has been accomplished during my tenure as CEO and thankful to have worked with such talented employees, visionary investors, and dedicated partners. Crop Enhancement has never been stronger. As a director, I’ll continue to work with Jean and our board to realize the maximum potential of our business.”

“We were thrilled to bring Jean on board last December as chief business officer, and he has proven invaluable in our efforts to identify strategic partners and establish key go-to-market relationships around the globe,” said Andrew Chung, an early investor in Crop Enhancement and managing partner at 1955 Capital. “Jean’s extensive leadership, deep industry knowledge, and solid track record as a top executive at DuPont will propel Crop Enhancement into this next phase of growth, something he already demonstrated during his tenure.”

“We are delighted to have Jean as our next CEO, and I am certain he will have high impact,” said Marcus Meadows-Smith, chairman of the board of Crop Enhancement. “Thanks to Kevin’s effective leadership over the last 4.5 years, Crop Enhancement advanced from a seed-stage startup through Series A and B equity raises. Kevin recruited a world-class team and established Crop Enhancement as a valuable Silicon Valley company with an agronomically proven crop-protection product now in trials with multiple top-tier strategic partners. As Kevin begins his next challenge as a venture capital investor, we are grateful for his service as CEO and look forward to his continued contributions on the board.”

Crop Enhancement has developed proprietary sustainable biological products that, when sprayed using conventional farm equipment, beneficially protect plant surfaces—leaves, stems, and fruit—to significantly improve their resistance to pests and diseases and decrease the need for synthetic pesticides and pesticide applications.

The company’s first product, CropCoat®, offers growers a new sustainable solution with effective modes of action that has demonstrated yield protection and enhancement relative to synthetic chemistries in several global crops. CropCoat can also be applied in conjunction with agricultural inputs such as nutrients and other active ingredients.

About Crop Enhancement

We work at the intersection of materials science and biology to bring new and effective solutions to agriculture that help growers protect their crops and the environment, while meeting the global need for sustainably produced foods. Our investors include Spruce Capital Partners, 1955 Capital, Phoenix Venture Partners, Cavallo Ventures, Bandgap Ventures, Davinia Investment Ltd, and Alexandria Ventures. For more information, visit crop-enhancement.com and follow @CropEnhancement on Twitter.

Our patented CropCoat® technology helps coffee growers control the coffee berry borer, which threatens the livelihoods of coffee growers worldwide

Coffee is one of the most important tropical commodities, with global production estimated to be over 165 million 60-kg bags and annual revenue exceeding USD 200 billion. Around 25 million farming households depend on coffee for their living. Coffee is grown and processed in more than 70 countries. The top 5 coffee-producing countries account for more than 70% of global output. Brazil is the leading producer with an estimated annual output of 53 million 60-kg bags, followed by Vietnam (28 million bags), Colombia (14 million bags), Indonesia (12 million bags) and Ethiopia (7 million bags).

Coffee rust and the coffee berry borer are the biggest enemy of the coffee growers. At Crop Enhancement we have been working on a biological solution that will help coffee growers deal with these two enemies. Let’s start with the coffee berry borer.

The tiny beetle is endemic to central Africa and over the last 100 years has spread to most coffee-producing countries through contaminated seeds. The coffee berry borer (also known as the coffee borer beetle) has optimized itself well for a life in the coffee berry. As its name implies, it has strong mandibles that enable it to drill into the berry through either the central disc or the side walls.

Once inside the berry, it lays several dozen eggs, which become larvae that start eating the beans. There are about 10 females for every male, and new offspring mate inside the seed. Males remain in the berries for their 40-day lifespan. Females, which can live up to 150 days, are fertilized a few days before they generally disperse to colonize more berries. The same plant can host three to five generations of beetles.

Crop damage and pest control responses

Three types of coffee borer damage have been reported: 1) premature fall of young berries, 2) increased vulnerability of infested ripe berries to fungus or bacterial infection, and 3) reduction in both yield and quality of coffee. The economic fallout from this damage effects the livelihood of more than 20 million families across several continents. Coffee berry borer damage also affects the gastronomic qualities of the coffee, causing our cup of coffee to taste bitter. As a result, growers with significant borer infestations see the marketability of their crop severely impacted.

Coffee berry borers are very difficult to manage with insecticides because they are protected by the berries. Growers have been using a variety of toxic pesticides. The most widely used insecticide was endosulfan—now banned because of its significant toxicity. Nowadays, growers often use another chemical: the now infamous Chlorpyrifos. The Chlorpyrifos label recommends the use of a respirator and other significant personal protection equipment (PPE). Its label also states that Chlorpyrifos is toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates, small mammals, and birds. The use of this product can significantly endanger the health of the growers and their family, and have a harmful impact on the local ecosystem if not used properly. However, in a tropical environment characterized by high heat and humidity, the workers are generally not adopting the extensive PPE recommendations.

Crop Enhancement’s CropCoat® technology is displacing toxic insecticides

Soon however, growers will be able to use Crop Enhancement’s products. Our CropCoat® product forms durable, biodegradable coatings on plant surfaces that camouflage plants from pests. Insects do not recognize coated surfaces as desirable locations for feeding or reproduction. And if they ultimately choose to feed on the plant, they often consume the coating, which displaces nutrition from their diets. The malnutrition and starvation that results causes the pest population to collapse, providing effective control without the use of conventional chemical pesticides.

To demonstrate CropCoat performance, we carefully selected more than 20 trial sites in Latin America and tested our product using industry-recognized testing standards such as randomized plots with at least four replications. In those trials, we compared CropCoat against the newest and best synthetic chemicals available.

Our results have shown that there are no statistical differences in controlling coffee berry borers between CropCoat and those industry-leading products. We will continue in the next couple of years to test CropCoat in coffee with our partners in Brazil, Columbia and Central America. In the meantime, we will soon start applying for registrations in a number of Latin America countries so that growers can add a sustainable solution to their toolbox to control this devastating pest—and will no longer need to use one of the industry’s most toxic pesticides.

Crop Enhancement Raises $8M Series B to Help Growers Protect Crops with Safe Coatings 

Additional funding enables agtech innovator to capitalize on near-term opportunities to bring much-needed sustainable solutions to market; investors include Spruce Capital Partners/MLS, 1955 Capital, Phoenix Venture Partners, Cavallo Ventures, Davinia Investment Ltd., and Alexandria Ventures

SAN JOSE, Calif.— Apr. 14, 2020: Crop Enhancement Inc., an innovator of sustainable agrochemical products that protect or enhance crop yields, has raised an $8M Series B financing round led by Spruce Capital Partners/MLS. Joining Spruce are existing investors 1955 Capital (managed by Andrew Chung), Phoenix Venture Partners, Cavallo Ventures, and new investors Davinia Investments Ltd. and Alexandria Ventures.

The funding will be used to support strategic partnership development with agrochemical companies and regional distributors, broaden field trial targets in high-value fruit and vegetable segments, and advance regulatory efforts in the United States, European Union, Brazil, and Central America.

“This latest financing reflects the successful de-risking of multiple aspects of our business: we’ve advanced our core technology, brought in top talent, addressed regulatory requirements, and cultivated several market-entry approaches,” said Kevin Chen, Ph.D., CEO of Crop Enhancement. “Helping growers protect or enhance crop yield is even more important during the current crisis. We are grateful for the support of our investor syndicate and look forward to welcoming other like-minded organizations and investors to join our mission.”

Crop Enhancement has developed proprietary sustainable bio-compatible chemistries that, when sprayed using conventional farm equipment, beneficially protect plant surfaces—leaves, stems, and fruit—to significantly improve their resistance to pests and diseases and decrease the need for synthetic pesticides and pesticide applications.

The company’s first product, CropCoat®, offers growers a new sustainable solution with effective modes of action that has demonstrated yield protection and enhancement relative to synthetic chemistries in several global crops. CropCoat can also be applied in conjunction with agricultural inputs such as nutrients and other active ingredients.

“Today’s consumers are increasingly aware of and concerned about how their food was grown and made. In response, the agriculture and food industries are investing in new approaches to improve production,” said Greg Young, managing director at Spruce Capital Partners. “That’s why we’re so excited about Crop Enhancement, whose technology provides growers with crop protection solutions that employ softer and safer chemistries.”

“A growing middle class coupled with economic advancement across Southeast Asia, Central America, and Africa, has ratcheted up pressure on growers globally to improve crop production output and sustainability,” said Andrew Chung, managing partner at 1955 Capital. “We’re pleased to be supporting Crop Enhancement as they pursue their mission to help growers around the world face this macrotrend.”

The Series B raise,  along with recent appointments of industry experts Jean Pougnier and Dr. Damian Hajduk to its leadership team, enables Crop Enhancement to focus more resources on its go-to-market initiatives and broaden its IP portfolio.

Crop Enhancement has achieved several important milestones in its field trial programs of the CropCoat product. Recent field trial highlights include:

About Crop Enhancement

We work at the intersection of materials science and biology to bring new and effective solutions to agriculture that help growers protect their crops and the environment, while meeting the global need for sustainably produced foods. Our investors include Spruce Capital Partners, 1955 Capital, Phoenix Venture Partners, Cavallo Ventures, Bandgap Ventures, Davinia Investment Ltd, and Alexandria Ventures. For more information, visit crop-enhancement.com and follow @CropEnhancement on Twitter.

Media contact:

Tim Cox, ZingPR, tim@zingpr.com, 650-369-7784