GUY ELITZUR is the Chief Executive Officer of STK bio-ag technologies (STK). He joined STK as the Chief Financial Officer in 2011 bringing more than 15 years of executive management experience to his role and in 2016, he became the CEO of the company. In this interview with World Agri-Tech, Guy shares his expertise on using botanical-based solutions in the farm-tech sector and reveals the development of STK’s exciting new product ventures. 

Founded in 1994, STK is a bio-ag technology company, committed to food protection from field to fork. Our botanical-based solutions (BBS), a synergy of cutting-edge scientific research and technology, enhance the safety, yield and quality of multiple crops. STK helps growers, food companies and supermarkets deliver healthier and safer food to market. Our botanical and hybrid solutions are easily integrated into conventional spraying programs, helping to advance the Integrated Pest Management approach to food production. With activities and product registrations in over 30 countries, STK bio-ag technologies is an enabler in the global sustainable agriculture movement, offering a transformative solution for solving 21st century food protection challenges.

How are consumer demands for sustainable, traceable ingredients impacting the supply chain including growers?
We all talk about sustainable agriculture – a global ecosystem that enables ample food production for feeding a rapidly growing population while simultaneously reducing chemical impact and providing higher quality and safer food. Yet today, it’s no longer just about the grower. Different edges of the food chain are overlapping and influencing one another. Food companies and supermarkets are more involved than in the past in setting the agenda, as they themselves are being held accountable for their own chemical footprint. The regulatory demands for food protection throughout the field-to-fork supply chain are stricter than ever, so that farmers need to adhere to a completely new set of criteria and standards. This is creating new challenges for the crop protection industry and is triggering the development of new technologies and solutions.

How is your company addressing that challenge?
From its first days, STK was established as a commercial company staffed by agronomists who have a genuine love for the farming life. As such, we have cultivated close working relationships with growers of all sizes and crops in over 30 countries. We understand their needs and pressures and it has influenced our R&D activities accordingly. Over the last decade, STK has been developing a growing portfolio of Botanical-Based Solutions (BBS) which are easily integrated into conventional spraying programs. Our solutions enable the holy grail of food protection – helping growers to deliver more product with higher nutritional value and no synthetic input residue. They are environmentally-friendly and cause no harm to bees, domestic farm animals or endangered species. We truly believe that biological solutions in general and botanicals specifically will play a major role in assisting farmers of all types and sizes to have a smoother transition into sustainable agriculture.

How is that different to other bio-agtech companies currently in the space?
We believe that using botanical based solutions gives the farmer several unique advantages over other types of biological solutions. At STK, we identify a plant molecule with the requisite pest-resistant qualities and mass-produce it as a scalable and effective alternative to synthetic inputs.  BBS has high compatibility with synthetic products and is thus a better fit for the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, either in rotation, tank-mixed or through our unique Hybrid solutions (pre-mixed, ready-to-spray botanical and chemical formulations). Due to their unique chemical structure, BBS are far more compatible with conventional products in IPM programs than most of their biological counterparts.

Can you share any examples of those BBS in action? 
We have many proof points with our flagship product, Timorex Gold®, in many countries and on multiple crops. But REGEV™ – our first recently launched Hybrid product is a new broad-spectrum foliar fungicide based on the mixture of TTO and Difenoconazole. It’s an easy-to-use formulation which creates an excellent synergy between chemical and biological ingredients. The combination of these two control the disease and provide a physiological boost effect, leading to plant health and higher yields. REGEV™ features several modes of action in one unique formulation, belonging to two distinct FRAC groups – F7 and G1. This makes for an innovative, anti-resistance tool and promotes a strong induced systemic resistance (ISR) activity that is effective against a broad range of pathogens, triggering the plant’s defense mechanism. This is a compelling example of how botanicals can be used to create a fast track for the adoption of the IPM approach and the transition to Sustainable Agriculture.

Finally, what’s next for STK?
We are commercializing two products in the US, Timorex Gold® and Aviv®, in addition to our Hybrid product that is being launched all over the globe. These solutions, in conjunction with the launch of our new brand identity, emphasize STK’s strengths in bringing cutting-edge technology to farmers that helps them to meet the evolving needs of 21st century agriculture.
The World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit is an important venue for us in furthering our efforts to expose our new brand, convey our core messages, and teach growers and distributors alike about the benefits of our unique technology. In addition, we are excited at the prospects of meeting other biological companies with whom we can potentially collaborate.

Guy Elitzur will speak about The Changing Face of Crop Protection & Demand for Bio-Based Solutions at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco, March 20-21, 2018. See the full agenda here:

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