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Pivot Bio ramps up funding, announces new wheat product

Investors have pumped $100 million into fertilizer replacement and expansion into wheat

There is big news from the folks at Pivot Bio. 

The Berkeley, California, agriculture input start-up secured $100 million in Series C funding April 30, which will help the company increase production and marketing of its “…first-to-market microbial nitrogen technology” for corn, called Pivot Bio Proven, the company said in a statement. 

The $100 million in funding comes from return investors, indicating their belief in the product, which features an in-furrow microbial product that helps corn convert atmospheric nitrogen to nitrogen the crop can use, boosting yields an average of 5.8 bushels per acre compared with using synthetic nitrogen only. This is based on field tests with land-grant universities in 2019, says Mark Reisinger, senior director of commercial operations at Pivot Bio. 

But that’s not all. 

The company has announced the launch of its new microbial fertilizer for wheat, Pivot Bio Return. Using a similar technology to help wheat create its own nitrogen from the atmosphere, Return promises a similar yield enhancement. Also, Return provides an average 1-point boost in protein content of wheat too, Reisinger says. “That was unexpected, but both of those create value for farmers.” 

Farmers would not dare reduce nitrogen application in corn, but in wheat, they often may be tempted to do so when times are tough, he adds. “Wheat is a different play,” he explains. “With Pivot Bio Return, they don’t have to cut corners.” 

Reisinger says Pivot Bio Return is to be used for in-furrow application in spring wheat, and it’s sold out for 2020. High-management farmers are the intended users, with the company using a Performance Based Pricing model, with price-per-acre for Return based on whether farmers are willing to reduce synthetic nitrogen application while using the product.

Pivot Bio plans to ramp up production of Return. In 2021, it will be available for all wheat classes, and in 2022, it will be available as a just-in-time wheat seed treatment. 

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