Bayer Crop, Biome Makers Partner For AI-powered Sustainable Farming


Bayer Crop Science and Biome Makers team up to validate an automatised recommendation engine, using soil microbiome and environmental data, to optimise yield and soil health.

In the same way, virtual assistants help us discover our next favourite song, Biome Makers has developed a software package that uses advanced machine learning to help farmers and agronomists pinpoint what their crops and soils need to boost yield in a sustainable way.

The scientific teams of Bayer Crop Science and Biome Makers tested and disclosed the first application of this groundbreaking technology on bioRxiv, the preprint repository operated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The study and resulting scientific paper details the analysis of the soil microbiome to assess the effectiveness of Bayer´s biological fungicide Minuet. Specifically, machine learning software allowed Bayer CS to predict potato yield improvement before the application of the input. The predicted result was a yield bump of up to 40 per cent in one of the fields tested in Idaho, US.

‘It’s a unique approach to utilise soil biology and optimise the use of crop inputs moving forward towards sustainable and economically favourable solutions to improve crop productivity’, said Varghese Thomas the project leader at Bayer CS.

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Agronomists should be happy. This technology is a giant leap forward for those who, up until now, have lacked the data required to accurately determine biological solutions for their seasonal soil and crop decisions. Soil is a valuable asset to increase crop yield and quality, but as it currently stands, agronomic recommendations are based on little knowledge of the biological processes occurring in it. But today, the availability of an AI virtual assistant to help predict the effect of different solutions is game-changing, and progress towards a more productive and sustainable agriculture system.

AI is an ever-evolving resource and, as such, is currently being ‘trained’ to resolve other farming concerns as well, including questions about produce shelf-life, nutrient quality of the product, and projected carbon credits based on the use of different products or management practices. Input manufacturers can add their own, custom solution to the AI recommendation system by testing it under the strict Gheom field trials protocol, a service Biome Makers offers.

Gheom® is a microbial-based protocol for field trials

Biological solutions are an effective tool for increasing yield and crop quality while reducing environmental issues, which is why transparency is crucial in the world of biological inputs. Many promises are made about the positive impact of these inputs, but farmers and agronomists lack independent and reliable tools to assess their real effect on soil health.

That’s where Gheom comes in. It is designed to accurately gauge biological product efficacy by analysing the most meaningful bioindicator in nature: the soil microbiome. This is a vital service Biome Makers offers to ag-input manufacturers in their pursuit of credibility and complete transparency. This, in turn, will create even more options for the farming community to deliver a sustainable food supply.

Similarly, LIVENTIA is assessing how their microbial biostimulants based on microbial consortia impact the ecological balance of soils, promoting effects like root growth, nutrient uptake, and stress tolerance to boost yield and crop quality. Likewise, Fertile Ground is another company sourcing the program to validate its product performance. Other companies like Sustainable Growing Solutions or the European manufacturer, Bioiberica, are already using protocol results to confirm the functional claims of their products for different crops such as vineyards, lettuce, or olive trees.

‘This data-driven assistant is a game-changer to upgrade agronomic advice on fertilisation and crop protection programs, including biologicals, in an integrated management approach’ states Juan Jose Chavez, the Product Manager for Advanced Analytical Services in DISAGRO, the international crop input retailer based in Central America.

As the biological input market segment grows, it is becoming the Wild West of ag products and its players are working actively to dispel scepticism leftover from the past. As crop input manufacturers adopt the use of Gheom protocols, it instils a much-needed rigour with measurable independent data into the evaluation and claims associated with crop inputs. Gheom is truly a market-changing tool to deliver food security and sustainability.

Microbial Soil Profile technology is a great investment for agriculture

New ways of evaluating biological crop inputs are highly valued by manufacturers, growers and regulators alike. These technologies are similarly attractive to investors for their short development timelines and low development costs compared with synthetic chemicals. Result? A rapidly evolving sector projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6 per cent, reaching a value of $18.9 billion within the next five years.

‘Combining this breakthrough technology with the entire toolbox of precision agriculture, such as self-driving tractors and precision spraying applications, allows us to imagine a bright, new future of secure and sustainable farming worldwide’, said Alberto Acedo, Chief Scientific Officer at Biome Makers.