Retired Cornell Professor to head new R&D facility in Geneva

News Date: 
01/07/2013

Retired Cornell Professor to head new R&D facility in Geneva

Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM) of Van Wert, Ohio, has been working with Dr. Gary Harman of the Experiment Station in Geneva New York since the Company began in 2001. Professor Harman retired from Cornell University November 16, 2012 and began work as the Chief Scientific Officer for Advanced Biological Marketing December 1. His duties will include development of new biologically based products to enhance crop productivity, control diseases, and other benefits. These products will be  suitable for use by both organic and conventional growers. ABM will establish and staff a facility in Geneva or nearby, to conduct this R&D program.

Harman developed strains of the beneficial fungus Trichoderma that reduce root diseases in commercial greenhouse production. These strains are used worldwide and were among the first successful biologically based biocontrol agents in commercial agriculture.

In 2004-5, ABM funded research at Cornell in Dr. Harman’s laboratory to develop new and improved strains of Trichoderma, as well as developing improved formulations of this and other strains. It was discovered that these fungi colonize the outer layers of roots and change plant physiology by altering the genes contained in crop plants. These changes induce plants that (a) resist   disease, (b) resistt  drought, salt, temperature and other stresses, (b) have greater root depth, (c) have improved abilities to utilize nitrogen effectively, and (e) have greater abilities to convert sunlight to plant growth.

Using this knowledge, Harman’s lab developed new strains of Trichoderma that are markedly improved over older ones. ABM sells seed treatments based on these improved strains for field crops and products for vegetables. Products for treatment of alfalfa, rice, cotton and other crops are being introduced while turf, ornamentals and home garden use are being developed. The seed treatments are very economical, costing only $4-5/acre. They routinely increase yields of corn, wheat and soybeans and provide returns on farmer investment of between 5:1 to 20:1. They provide benefits for the life of at least annual crops and, if desired, can be applied over chemically treated seeds.

Sales of these products are growing rapidly, primarily in the Midwest, although a greater marketing effort will begin shortly in NY. In addition, these same products are sold internationally in 11 countries, with rice being a major target crop. Registrations are pending in about 15 other countries. The products have advantages for both large commercial growers and small growers in developing countries that cannot afford inputs of fertilizers, pesticides and, in some cases, even irrigation water. The attached pictures demonstrate some of the advantages of the product.

The Geneva-based R&D program will include products developed by Harman, but will also include materials and unique active ingredients that will be obtained from Dr. Harman’s contacts around the world. The goal will be to provide unique new products that economically enhance food production in the US and around the world, and that increase farmer’s profits. The facility to be located here will be between 5000 and 15000 sq. ft. and will employ five to ten people initially, including two PhD level scientists. The strains and other technologies developed by Harman are owned the Cornell patent office and licensed to ABM. These patents earn royalties for Cornell.

 

 

In the developing world where farmers cannot afford inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, SabrEx can make a huge difference. The field above is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the seeds in the corn at the right of the picture were treated with Trichoderma. A variety of systems to provide high quality product to small farmers is being developed and it can make the difference between a harvest and no harvest.  

 

Drought resistance conferred by ABM SabrEx Trichoderma product in Illinois. The seeds used to grow the row of corn on the right were treated with SabrEx applied over standard chemical treatments, while the row on the left lacked the SabrEx treatment. In this case, the difference was between a harvest and no harvestable corn.

 

ABM Names Dr. Gary Harman Chief Science Officer

As of December 1, 2012, ABM is excited to announce that we have appointed Dr. Gary Harman as our Chief Science Officer. His contributions to the agricultural community have been remarkable and we look forward to unraveling the endless possibilities of improving and discovering new technologies available to the grower.

Dr. Harman has spent the past 42 years as a Professor at Cornell University dedicating his life’s work to the development of microbial technologies to enhance plant growth and productivity; Including biological control of plant diseases, enhanced resistance to stress, improved nitrogen use efficiency and increased yields, and development of products using agricultural waste products for environmental remediation. He has authored two books including Trichoderma and Gliocladium, co-authored by Christian Kubick of the Technical University in Vienna, Austria, nearly 150 scientific papers, and about 20 patents or patent applications.

In the past, working with Professor Gary Harman of Cornell University, ABM has developed the technology to isolate and identify specific strains of beneficial Trichoderma.  In that work, many thousands of strains were produced and screened over a period of more than 30 years.  ABM’s strains are the very best from this large effort, headed by the foremost leader in Trichoderma research: Dr. Gary Harman.