The future of farming: robots, bees and plant jacuzzis
Ashish Malik, CEO of Bee Vectoring Technology (BVT) (beevt.com), delivers a fascinating insider analysis of the current state of crop protection via bees. Mr. Malik is the former VP of global marketing for biologics at Bayer CropScience where he worked on the portfolio of biological assets and strategies to advance integrated crop solutions. Before his tenure at Bayer, Mr. Malik was SVP of global marketing at the California-based AgraQuest, an international supplier of advanced biological pest management solutions founded upon natural microorganisms. Mr. Malik received his MBA, specializing in finance and marketing, from Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business and his bachelor’s in engineering from Swarthmore College.
With a passion for safe, healthy foods, Mr. Malik sought to bring his interests to a larger audience with Bee Vectoring Technology. BVT is a top technology company that utilizes commercially-reared bees to establish sustainable, efficient, and effectual crop control. Highly focused on agricultural innovation as well as targeted pest and disease management solutions, BVT seeks to advance global crop production while decreasing the use of chemicals.
Farmers seek to expand their productivity per acre of land, but consumers are demanding fewer chemicals in the process. Thus, pollinators that help to create a higher yield with a more organic footprint are in demand. As Malik states, his company uses bees to pollinate, to deliver a safe, biological product to the flowering crops. And it is this biological product that then protects the crop from disease and pests ongoing. BVT’s system thus reduces the chemical input, eliminates water waste, and often increases efficiency.
The crop pollination expert explains that BVT is continually studying the ratios for success, such as how many hives per acre are necessary to deliver the right amount of biological product to maximize yield, and protection. Additionally, efficiency is also connected to temperature, as bees tend to be more productive in warmer temps. And as fruit quality and health can be improved through BVT’s methods, use of their system can increase revenue per acre, as well as fruit shelf life.
BVT utilizes bumblebees to implement their pollination solutions. Working with commercial bee-rearing companies, BVT’s product is composed of a tray that carries the microbe that can be inserted into the commercial beehive delivered to the farmer. And with honey bees, the tray would be positioned outside the beehive. Honey bee keepers who work with the BVT system are given an opportunity to increase their revenue per hive.
Malik discusses the various strategies for positioning the hives and how placement can increase productivity. But workers, tractors and farm equipment, etc. must be considered regarding placement, as the bees should not be disturbed in order for them to be able to work efficiently. And he explains how the bees systematically cover an area, as the first wave of bees will deplete the nectar in the closest flowering crops, and then the second wave will go further or deeper. Therefore, consideration of placement is always important, and refinement of the entire process is critical as well to achieve the best results. Malik states that crop protection, and agricultural inputs (products permitted for use within organic farming) are a $50 billion dollar industry, so clearly, efficient, more organic pollination is here to stay.