Timac Agro USA: Learning Plant Nutrition the European Way

Alex Duffy, at Commodity Classic in Orlando, FL

AgriBusiness Global caught up with Alexander Duffy, National Product Manager with Timac Agro USA in Orlando, Florida at Commodity Classic in early March. Timac Agro USA has deep roots in plant nutrition in Europe, which, notes Duffy, is “probably 25 years ahead of where we are now in the U.S. They’ve been using seaweed extracts and humic and fulvic acids for a very long time, especially in Spain and France, which are two of our biggest countries. These markets have very similar crops to here, and lot of times I look at European yield data, and they’re using a lot less input, and they’re still getting more yield than we are. So what are they doing differently?”

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Timac Agro’s Roullier Global Innovation Centre (top) and one of its R&D labs.

That is, in part, what Timac Agro has set out to determine via its $40 million R&D facility in France, 60 patents, and 100-plus peer-reviewed publications in plant nutrition, at the same time growing its U.S. business from barely there to 100 reps across 27 states and four manufacturing sites in the space of just a few years. For row crops, the company focuses heavily on patented nutritional humic/fulvic acid and seaweed extract formulations, fertilizer additives and seed treatments, aimed at maximizing nutrient availability, reducing plant stress and improving plant health.

“We take hundreds of different plant and seaweed species under very different extraction methods — extraction methods matter. We’re not just throwing seaweed into a vat and stirring it and calling it a finished product. We’re doing precision seaweed extractions and using chemistry to classify and isolate the bioactive compounds using HPLC or GCMS and then running screening on multiple plant species in our greenhouses and growth chambers. We have one of Europe’s only plant phenotyping facilities for plant nutrition. By the time they get me a product to field-test here in the USA, it’s gone through about three years of R&D. We get really high-quality finished material here.”

“In order for products like ours to work really well — seed treatments, fertilizer additives, or patented liquid formulas — we have to have really good knowledge of the farm that we’re working on. I think that the key to our field trial success is a consultative sales model. We have reps on the ground working to get to know the operation, so we can position the right product at the right time for that field that can then translate to really good success. As I’ve traveled around to almost 30 states in the last two years with our reps, that’s the most consistent thing I’ve seen. My reps that really get involved on the farm have the best field trial results and get the best ROI for the customer.”