Making Crop protection safer

Making Crop protection safer
Making Crop protection safer

By 2030, the world’s population is expected to rise from the current 6.7 billion to over 8.0 billion. As a consequence much farm land will be lost under cities and roads. This, coupled with economic growth across Asia, and a renewed focus on biofuels, is putting increasing pressure on food supplies and a growing demand for higher crop yields. The need for safe and environmentally-friendly crop protection chemicals has never been greater.

Calix is a leading global innovator of award-winning environmental solutions for industry.

Through developing unique processes and materials, we work with businesses and governments to help them minimise their impact on the environment whilst still achieving performance levels that they require.

Innovating for the Earth.

With global climate, energy, and sustainability challenges set to intensify, Calix has identified some key challenges that have emerged in the last decade and are increasingly putting our planet at risk. These Global Challenges are at the heart of everything we do.

Calix BOOSTER-Mag is a revolutionary agricultural solution for increased yield, more efficient fertiliser usage, insect / pest management, and fungal control.

Safe, low cost, environmentally sustainable and easy-to-apply, BOOSTER-Mag can improve yield and natural resistance to pests and diseases. It demonstrably provides a substantial safety, simplicity, sustainability and productivity benefit.

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Safer and more sustainable crop protection is a key focus for Calix and, indeed, for farmers across the globe who are looking to sustainably increase productivity and produce healthy and nutritious food.

Conventional crop protection products face increasing scrutiny.

In Europe, conventional crop protection products have their registration reviewed every 10 years, safety and environmental standards become more stringent and many conventional chemicals currently in use will be de-registered and will no longer be available for use by farmers. This will create demand for new products that do meet new requirements; products that are effective, safer and less damaging to the environment.

The cost to develop a new crop protection product is reported to require an investment of US$250 million and take 10 years, however with products being de-registered and withdrawn from the market, farmers need new safe, affordable crop protection products now. This is driving increased research to products that are safer and less harmful to the environment but still provide growers with necessary crop protection. Understandably, new crop protection actives based on plant and microbial extracts and natural minerals are generating substantial interest.

Demand is growing for non-chemical safer and sustainable alternatives to conventional pesticides

Calix BOOSTER-Mag, an easy-to-apply foliar spray that both acts as a fertiliser and assists with crop protection, fulfils the market’s need for lower-toxicity or non-toxic products that can help manage crops.

Reducing dependence on the so-called hard chemicals is important for the agriculture industry. And markets around the world are starting to accommodate this kind of thinking. In the US, there is a category for bio-pesticides to be registered for use as crop protection agents that are non-toxic and stimulate plant growth. The requirements for registration under this category are less stringent and restrictive than for hard chemicals, making it an attractive growth market. There is also some discussion regarding introducing a similar category in Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron wants pesticide use halved by 2025 and has suggested establishing a European food safety force. Brussels is in the final stages of reforming the General Food Law, which would give the European Food Safety Authority additional powers to conduct its own safety tests on products such as pesticides.

Scientists in Germany have sounded the alarm about massive insect losses in terms of species diversity and total biomass, with dire consequences for the animals that feed on them and for plants that require them for pollination. The recent insect decline is seen by experts as part of a gathering mass extinction of species, only the sixth in the last half-billion years. According to a peer-reviewed study by Francisco Sánchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney and Kris Wyckhuys of the University of Queensland in Australia: “Unless we change our way of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades.

As a consequence, the German state of Bavaria has announced that it will pass into law a popular “save the bees” petition that promises drastic changes in farming practices without putting it to a referendum first. The proposal sets a target for 20% of agricultural land to meet organic farming standards by 2025, before reaching 30% by 2030. To achieve these ambitious goals and increase productivity, farmers will need new products and technology that are safer for farmers, consumers and the environment and reliably allows the use of conventional pesticides to be reduced. However, farmers are concerned about a current lack of new products and technology that will let them minimise the amount of conventional chemicals they use.

BOOSTER-Mag fills this need. Calix has now completed its third year of field trials of BOOSTER-Mag on crops in Australia, and Europe. In Australia, large-scale trials on commercial farms demonstrated that BOOSTER-Mag suppressed pest and disease pressure to the point where conventional insecticide use could be halved, or in one case completely eliminated, without compromising yield or yield quality. Similarly, field trials on vines in the Champagne region of France demonstrated that BOOSTERMag treatment could enable conventional fungicide use to be substantially reduced without compromising yield. The results from recent field trials in the Netherlands are also very encouraging with BOOSTER-Mag demonstrated to provide greater control of a highly.

De-registration is creating urgency

Existing chemicals and pesticides are already in the process of being de-registered, especially in Europe.

Some products with certain active ingredients are being pulled from the shelves. And if they’re not being de-registered, these chemicals are facing tighter regulations on when and how they can be used. For example, in the past, growers may have been able to apply pesticides to their crops any time they noticed an issue or felt the need to treat the crops. Now, there may be rules that say a certain chemical can only be used once, and only within the first three weeks of the growing cycle, for example.

These restrictions will require farmers to look to innovation to help them overcome pests and disease in their crops. However, the long lead time involved in creating a new solution is cold comfort to farmers who need to protect their crops immediately.

These long lead times are the result of requirements for lifetime accumulation studies to be conducted before bringing a new chemical to market. Anything deemed potentially harmful to the environment, waterways, or humans, must undergo a stringent regime of testing to specify how it may be safely used, which is almost impossible to navigate. This is creating significant frustration among growers and pesticide producers.

An industry crying out for innovation

Most of the major crop protection companies are now heavily invested in researching products that either reduce the use of conventional chemicals by developing precision farming techniques or developing new alternatives to replace traditional products.

These new products include actives derived from natural plant extracts, bacteria that compete with plant diseases and actives that stimulate plants natural defences. Innovation is also occurring in growers crop treatment programs with greater consideration being given to the impact of beneficial insects, seed pretreating, plant breeding and even the soil biome. Many of these solutions do not have the overwhelming “knock-down” impact of traditional products and must be applied with a more preventative mindset.

In some cases, the push to develop new options for growers is being driven by growers.

An example of this is an established olive grower in southern Spain that has recently commenced a 12-month trial of BOOSTER-Mag. This forward-looking grower is investing his own resources into the project not only because of the imperative to reduce pesticide use and produce safely and sustainably, but also because of the premium he can achieve for lower residue produce.

Australian farmers are on a similar path. Once a product is banned from use in Europe, Australian regulators won’t be far behind. Australia also has a clean and green reputation to maintain, and relies on exports of food products to European countries where those products may be banned, so there is no incentive for Australian growers to continue using chemicals once they’re banned elsewhere.

All of this points to a burgeoning opportunity for non-chemical approaches to managing pests and disease in food crops. Calix is developing BOOSTER-Mag to provide a safe, low-cost, environmentally sustainable option for farmers around the world. It can help manage pests and disease without increasing growers’ input costs, and it can also help improve vitality and yield.
With support from the Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) and local growers, a rigorous evaluation of BOOSTER–Mag was undertaken across 3 farms.

Insect related fruit damage was consistently reduced within all three farms.


Optimal yield and plant vitality – healthier plants with optimal natural resistance to diseases and pests. Real potential for lower production costs through reduced chemical inputs (fertiliser and crop protection products).


Non-toxic to humans, animals, fish and plants (non-phytotoxic). BOOSTER-Mag is non-hazardous and non-dangerous according to criteria of Safe Work Australia.


Applied as a diluted foliar spray (1 – 5 percent v/v) using conventional agricultural spray equipment. No leaf-burn (even at ten times the recommended dose). Rain-fast: good adhesion to leaf surfaces and resistant to wash-off.


Environmentally beneficial and poses no accumulative risk.

Introducing Robert Van Merkestein – Business Manager BOOSTER-Mag

Rob joined Calix in October 2015, primarily to commercialise BOOSTER-Mag, a new product developed by Calix for use in agriculture around the world.

Rob started his career with the CSIRO, initially developing environmental applications for MgO powder derived from mineral Magnesium Carbonate, before developing a process to manufacture a more user-friendly liquid form – Magnesium Hydroxide Liquid. This work led to the establishment of Australia’s first production facility of MHL.

Rob then joined the private sector where he helped establish and manage a Liquid Magnesium Hydroxide business focused on developing and commercialising a suite of new solutions. After over 15 years working on this technology, he decided to move on and started working on several other new and innovative technologies.

Rob’s worked extensively in Australia and throughout Asia within the water sector. He had many opportunities to travel and lived in Beijing for a few years with his family. He married Michelle and has two boys – Remy, 9 and Lucas, 12. He doesn’t have much time for hobbies but does enjoy the “surprise” when a bottle of red from his cellar has actually improved.

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Calix has unique potential to scale solutions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Calix’s solutions for Making Crop protection safer can be a major driver of sustainability on a global scale and therefore an important step in reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Our purpose explained

BOOSTER-Mag Partners

Calix has established a network of local distributors and partners who can deliver our solutions across the globe, to ensure you receive excellent customer service and support, wherever you are located. To find a partner near you, go to our contact page.

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Making Crop protection safer

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