Verdesian Life Sciences

Plant health specialists help growers ensure results
Written by: 
Matt Dodge
Produced by: 
Dana Merk-Wynne

Verdesian Life Sciences is an emerging plant health and nutrition company focused on a simple mission: help growers maximize the output of their row crops and specialty crops through the use of patented biologicals, plant nutrition, nutrient managers, specialty micronutrients, seed treatments and inoculants.

Founded in 2012, the company has quickly grown to become a worldwide leader in this emerging market. With six locations in the U.S., a global presence in Europe, Central and South America, and the Asia-Pacific region and more than 240 employees, Verdesian has garnered a lot of industry attention over a relatively short period thanks to an approach that places producers’ needs above all else.

Verdesian Life Sciences

“Our focus is on helping growers increase yield and improve their bottom line. Improving plant health and nutrition offers the next big opportunity for yield increases,” says J.J. Grow, CEO of Verdesian.

In addition to increased production efficiency and profitability, Verdesian technologies hold the promise of reducing negative environmental impacts. “There is also an environmental risk if we continue to do things the way we’re doing them. We want to increase yields but also provide solutions for farmers to be more environmentally sustainable, so we invest in polymer technologies to help farmers keep the nutrients where they belong and not allow them to move off-site into other places,” Grow says.

Innovative new products drive growth

Verdesian came into being just four years ago as agriculture industry veteran Grow started the journey to research and find companies to form Verdesian Life Sciences. “The idea for Verdesian Life Sciences came in 2011 when I looked at the many fragmented, plant health and nutrition companies in the marketplace. The goal was to build a solid company poised for growth that could move forward and act quickly to bring new technologies to market,” says Grow.

Grow, who grew up raising cattle, watermelon and cantaloupe in Florida, was heavily involved with the Future Farmers of America (FFA). In recognition of more than 30 years of involvement with the FFA, he was recently awarded an Honorary FFA Degree, an honor reserved for members who have advanced agricultural education and the organization through outstanding personal commitment.

Prior to forming Verdesian, Grow had served as executive vice president in charge of sales for NuFarm Americas, where he was responsible for building and maintaining relationships with key national distribution partners. He has also held key leadership positions with other agricultural companies, including Purfresh, United Agri-Products, Novartis Crop Protection, American Cyanamid and Merck Agvet. Grow started his first business, Gro-Pro, LLC/Etigra, a turf, ornamental, aquatic, forestry and crop-protection company, in 2003. That business was acquired by NuFarm Limited in 2008. 

Today, the Verdesian portfolio consists of a wide range of plant health and nutrition products including the soybean inoculant Preside CL®, which helps soybeans reach their yield potential by providing four times more aggressive, multiple strain nitrogen-fixing rhizobia per seed than competing inoculants. Soybeans inoculated with Preside CL demonstrate better plant health, growth, development and nutrient utilization, closing the canopy sooner and capturing more sunlight for stronger yield potential at harvest.

The company also offers AVAIL® Phosphorus Fertilizer Enhancer, which has been used on more than 59 million acres and on a variety of crops to shield applied phosphorus from elements in the soil that tie that nutrient up and make it unavailable to growing plants. Without AVAIL, as much as 75 to 95 percent of applied phosphorus fertilizer can become fixed in the soil.

But it’s one of the latest technologies in the nutrient management and efficiency technologies category that Grow says is particularly exciting. Take Off® is a soil- and/or foliar-applied nitrogen management technology that works inside of plants to accelerate nutrient uptake and nitrogen efficiency. Tested extensively on a range of crops, Take Off has been proven effective for use on plants as diverse as corn and wheat to cantaloupe and switchgrass. Because of the improved inside-the-plant nutrient uptake and nitrogen use efficiency, this technology aids in crop growth rate, increases biomass and improves photosynthesis.

While the company has some competitors in the nitrogen management sector, Grow says the efficiency of products like Take Off is unmatched by anything else currently on the market. “Verdesian also has a nitrogen management product, NutriSphere-N® Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager, which helps to reduce nitrogen loss to the environment and increase availability of that nutrient for plant uptake throughout the growing season,” he says.

Take Off might be one of the newest and most promising innovations to emerge from Verdesian in recent years, but it’s far from the only one. The company has some 270 patents for nutrient use efficiency technologies and has made a significant investment in ongoing research and development.

“Research is the foundation at Verdesian,” says Grow. “While we conduct independent, third-party research, we also conduct research internally with our technical development managers. We have specialists across the country working in specialty markets with citrus and vegetables, row crops like cotton and peanuts, and in the upper Midwest on crops such as blueberries and cherries.”

Verdesian works closely with Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to help develop and produce some of its innovative products and technologies. The company also hired a new director of research and development last year in a bid to maintain competitiveness in the plant health and nutrition technology market sector.

The company also contracts with many laboratories and universities around the country which carry out their own, independent tests of the company’s newest products, ensuring that every new innovation is extensively researched before it’s applied to farmers’ fields. “We have an entire team dedicated to research -- not just in the lab, but also under real world conditions in the field,” says Grow.

“While we do conduct research internally with our product development specialists, we also rely on an extensive network of independent, third-party research entities,” Grow says. “Our products also go through extensive field testing with agricultural retailer and distribution networks, including many on-farm test plots.”

Helping growers through hard times     

Government regulations and flagging commodity prices have long been a challenge within the agriculture industry. When prices drop, farmers look to cut corners and reduce overhead, and they often target their plant health and nutrition programs for the cutting block.

“They have a tendency to reduce the use of nutrient-enhancing products in an effort to lower production costs, but  a down market is exactly when you don’t want to be doing that,” says Grow. “Obtaining high crop yields is essential when commodity prices are low. When our customers are feeling the squeeze from commodity prices and government regulations, it’s our job to help them navigate those waters.”

Grow also sees an opportunity in serving the growers who are working to feed a rapidly expanding population. “The world is increasing its population and caloric intake and there is only so much land suitable for agriculture. What Verdesian is trying to do is to bring products to the market that will increase yields, because that is the only way that farmers will be able to keep up with a global population that is expected to hit 9 billion people by 2050,” he says.

As Verdesian continues to grow into a major player in the plant health and nutrition market, the company is looking to continue its strategy of acquiring new businesses and expanding its international presence. The company recently set up shop in Canada and has seen increased growth in Europe, Central and South America, and the Asia-Pacific Region.

“We have really set our sights on becoming the premier global plant health and nutrition company, and the only way to do that is through a focus on innovation and technology. Once our technology is proven, we then have to make sure it gets to our dealer partners and ultimately, to the grower,” Grow says.

The Verdesian focus will continue to be providing technologies that work and provide a good return on investment for farmers by increasing crop yield and minimizing the environmental impact of agriculture.

Important: Always read and follow label use directions.

Avail, NutriSphere-N, Take Off and Preside CL are registered trademarks of Verdesian Life Sciences. © Verdesian Life Sciences. All rights reserved.

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