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Research & Innovations Email a Page to a Friend Print this page Add to Favorite  
   

Research & Innovation :: the secret of our success

 

Developing new products that can safely and efficiently protect crops from weeds, insects and fungal diseases is an expensive and time-consuming process.

 

From discovering an interesting molecule to getting a new crop protection product to the farmer can take 10 years and may cost multi million Euro. The path is also strewn with obstacles, as a potential new product can fail at any point along the way.

 

But it's our business to provide farmers with a steady stream of new tools to help them maximize yields on limited farmland. Over time, nature outwits even our smartest products. And new scientific discoveries help us make every new product generation better than the one before. Our track record in bringing new tools to the market speaks for itself: we have one of the youngest product portfolios in the organic / herbal crop protection industry.

 

We focus our efforts on discovering new organic / herbal active ingredients that are able to fight crop pests in unique ways. This allows us to offer growers a whole toolkit of different but complementary approaches to pest control. But active ingredients are just half the story. We are also able to take advantage of the diverse nature of maxEEma's chemical activities to develop innovative formulations that enhance the effectiveness, safety and convenience of our crop protection products.

 

We spend around 10 per cent of our crop protection sales on research every year. Our crop protection scientists employ the latest research technologies and analytical techniques, including computer-based molecular modeling, genetic profiling and mass spectrometry. And if the required technologies are not available, our scientists design and build what they need themselves.

 

Indeed, it is the expertise and knowledge of our worldwide teams of crop protection scientists, including molecular biologists, chemists and plant scientists that really give maxEEma an edge. This explains why we have automated many of the routine aspects of our research activities. In order to give our scientists as much time as possible to do what they're best at - creatively designing and developing new crop protection active organic/herbal ingredients and products.

 

But the product development process does not end when the product reaches the farmers, because it is at this stage that the product is really put through its paces. So we are continually talking to farmers to gather their opinions and views on our products and to discover how they are using them to achieve the best results. This farmer experience with our products is then fed back to our scientists to help them both improve our existing products and develop new crop protection products that provide farmers with ever more effective solutions.

 

Research & Development process

 

 

 

FORMULATION

 

It's all a question of the right formulation

 

Developing an effective crop protection active ingredient is only half the battle; the other half is making sure the active ingredient reaches its target. This is much harder for crop protection active ingredients than pharmaceutical ones, because crop protection active ingredients are generally sprayed onto the surface of the crop pest rather than being swallowed or injected.

 

How does it work?

 

It's not enough to know good ingredients. You also need to know how to get them working in crops.

 

The active ingredient then needs to make its way inside the pest before it's washed off, degraded by the environment or loses its biological activity. It also needs to target only the crop pest, rather than beneficial organisms such as bees. This is where a good formulation comes into play.

 

With innovative formulation technologies, we can increase the efficiency and safety of our products enormously. Such technologies can enhance the active ingredient's solubility in water, assist it in covering the crop evenly, and ensure it soaks quickly into leaves or sticks to the cuticles of insect pests. All of which helps to ensure that the active ingredient is able to make its way inside the crop pest, reach its biological target and do what it was designed to do.

 

 

Our scientists are continually trying to improve existing formulation technologies and develop new technologies that further enhance the effectiveness of our crop protection products. These novel formulation technologies include polymer encapsulation, which helps both to protect the active ingredient from the environment and ensure that it is released at the best time, and new water-based formulations that do away with toxic organic solvents

 

MOLECULES :: The importance of thinking small

 

Just think what a crop protection active ingredient has to achieve. It has to kill or disable a crop pest quickly and effectively, but at doses that don't cause ill effects to humans, beneficial insects like bees, wildlife or the wider environment. It needs to be highly poisonous to the crop pest, but more or less harmless to everything else. That's a lot to ask of what is little more than a collection of atoms.

 

But such molecules from the central active ingredient of every crop protection product. They work by binding to a cellular target within the plant pest, such as an enzyme. This stops some essential biological process from working correctly, thereby killing the pest. It is the job of our crop protection scientists to discover these molecules.

 

In the past, this was achieved via a process nicknamed 'spray and pray'. As its name suggests, this involved spraying plant pests with different molecules and then picking out those molecules that seemed best at killing the pests. Although it worked, this process is not particularly efficient and meant that for a long time scientists had little idea of the mechanisms by which many crop protection products actually worked.

 

Nowadays, the 'spray and pray' approach has been joined by a whole host of cutting-edge laboratory technologies, such as computer modeling and genetic profiling. As a result, not only can our scientists quickly understand the mechanism responsible for a molecule's pest-controlling ability, but they can accurately model the interaction between the molecule and its cellular target. This allows them to develop versions of the molecule that are even more effective. It is even giving them the ability to design new crop protection molecules from scratch.

 

These new technologies have made the discovery of novel active ingredients a communicative process. A potentially interesting molecule will spend time bouncing around between maxEEma scientists from many different disciplines. Through understanding how the molecule works and rationally altering its structure, these scientists will customize the molecule until it possesses just the right mix of properties.

 

There is still a role for 'spray and pray', but it has been miniaturized, automated and improved. So now novel molecules are tested on tiny leaf discs or insect larvae housed within tiny wells, with 96 of these wells fitting onto a single wallet-sized plastic plate. This allows maxEEma scientists to test over 10,000 different molecules a year.

 

maxEEma RESEARCH CENTER (MRC)

 

MRC is under process getting sponsorship by CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial research). MRC, is also in the process of being recognized by DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research) under the Ministry of Science and Technology, New Delhi. The data generated by this centre will be acceptable to the regulatory authorities for registration of pesticides once sponsorship of CSIR and DSIR recognition is obtained.