Originally published in AGDaily by

As with so much else in nature, crop pests — including insects, fungi, and diseases — are not static. They are ever-changing and evolving, forcing agriculturalists to come up with new ways to combat and respond to them.

One of the beautiful things about modern-day agriculture is the many ways farmers can diversify their arsenals to better combat these pests to best fit the needs and situation of their particular farm. Among these tools are biological pesticides (or biopesticides).

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Crop Enhancement raises $8m Series B to support trials for its ‘safer chemistry’ pesticide coating

“When you think about putting a film around something in the food space, you most likely think about  packaging or perhaps one of the growing number of shelf life enhancement startups that coat produce in a special material to stop them going bad. Last year, for example, Sufresca raised a $500,000 seed round for its edible fruit and vegetable coating to reduce food waste and curb plastic packaging while Apeel Sciences scored a $70 million Series C in 2018 for a shelf-life extending coating made from agricultural byproducts.

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Q&A with Mike Wilbur, Kevin Chen on Cavallo Ventures’ Latest Bet

“With its investment, Cavallo Ventures aims to accelerate the development of Crop Enhancement’s breakthrough crop protection technology in the United States — particularly for the production of high-value fruit and vegetable crops.

CropLife chatted with both Mike Wilbur, President and CEO of Cavallo Ventures, and Kevin Chen, CEO of Crop Enhancement, on the background of the new investment, and what we can expect to see next with the company’s technology and marketing.”

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Cavallo Ventures Makes Seven Figure Investment In Pesticide Disruption

Cavallo Ventures, the venture capital arm of global agribusiness company Wilbur-Ellis, has just announced a seven figure investment in agricultural technology startup Crop Enhancement, Inc. The California-based company makes CropCoat, a unique protective coating being touted as an alternative to more toxic pesticides on the market.

“In trials we’ve completed, our first product, CropCoat, is proving to be an effective and sustainable crop protection technology, says Kevin Chen, Ph.D., CEO of Crop Enhancement. According to Chen, CropCoat works by creating a physical barrier to protect the plant from “biotic stress [like] insects and disease.” In the future, the company hopes CropCoat could also address stressors like drought and extreme heat.

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New Mode of Action to Stop Insects

Agriculture has seen its fair share of new startup companies in the last five years. With billions being invested in new ideas, a lot of brainpower is being put toward a range of new ideas. Recently, Farm Progress talked with Kevin Chen, CEO, Crop Enhancement, a venture-capital-funded company based in San Jose, Calif., with a different way to control crop pests: a spray-on barrier that keeps pests out of crops.

“Growers can protect crops by applying a biodegradable and transparent material that keeps pests from eating a crop,” Chen explains. “Our CropCoat product is a foliar-applied spray formulation.” The product is a proprietary mix containing natural ingredients.

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What does Marcus Meadows-Smith see in Crop Enhancement?

“As veterans of the biopesticide industry go, Marcus Meadows-Smith is a heavy hitter. His résumé is packed with transformative business performance at several major companies (Bayer, AgraQuest, Chemtura, among others). Currently the CEO of BioConsortia Inc., Meadows-Smith has just taken a role on the board of directors of Crop Enhancement Inc., an innovator of sustainable agrochemical products for enhancing crop yields, where he will help guide the management team on value-creation strategies for the company. It’s a great fit not only because of his deep experience and track record in the agrochemical industry, but also because the company is serving the needs of growers and the multinational food manufacturers that source their produce.

“I understand the grower mentality,” says Meadows-Smith, “and right now, growers are aiming to increase their yield to sustainably produce food for the world. A part of that sustainable approach is improved profitability and lower environmental impact, which is where Crop Enhancement has breakthrough technology.”

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