Dan Custis CEO and Co-Founder, ABM

Since the hybridization of corn, followed by the development of genetically modified crops and the race to improve crop genetics, little attention has been given to the soil and what’s happening below ground. As seed and chemical companies focused on genetics, traits and chemistries for the plant to thrive above ground, I knew we had to start thinking about the soil, organic matter and what was happening below-ground.
There’s a natural synergy between crops and the myriad of organisms living in the soil. Each plant has a true relationship with the environment that surrounds it, both above ground and below.
Some organisms are beneficial while others are detrimental. Some can be more, or less, active depending on varying conditions such as temperature and weather. For instance, cool, wet weather can cause root rot or Pythium in a crop. At ABM, we understand the relationship between the soil and crops.
Just 16 years ago, many thought I was crazy to register a biopesticide. Today, it’s common practice for farmers to consider using a biopesticide to help control insects, disease and weeds. And others have since recognized the importance of helping to manage the relationships of plants and how they interact with the organisms in the soil and the soil itself. The dynamics change as you shift crops, soil types, varieties and growing zones.
During the past five to seven years, millions of dollars have been invested into the biological space. Companies have been acquired and new companies have been formed. This is an area that largely remains untouched in terms of scientific exploration and experts predict this is where the next big yield gains will be made.
To best manage the intricacies of these below-ground synergies, we partner with seed companies, fertilizer companies, seedsmen and farmers to find the best agronomics for not only a particular region but also a farm.
With scientific advances, we are able to isolate beneficial microorganisms by magnifying the properties of the soil profile. The process is lengthy to isolate microbes such as Rhizobia and Trichoderma. We can process up to 100,000 screenings of different microbes to fit into one specific category that will be beneficial for farming. Some of the areas we specialize in include: Disease resistance, insect control, nutrient uptake, drought resistance and root systems.
These are just a few of the benefits that biologicals can have in helping farmers get the most from their seed. It’s these naturally-occurring organisms that allow us to provide the best products possible. In the end, the main purpose is to maximize plant potential, and microbes are the way of the future to gain higher yields.