BASF is working with a maker of diagnostics for human health to develop a new generation of in field crop analysers for the early detection of plant health issues.

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The German multinational’s Agricultural Solutions division is collaborating with Ontera, a California-based company established in 2013. It makes diagnostics that use single molecule detection and genome analysis platforms to identify nucleic acids, proteins and small molecules in the same run. The diagnostics are used in human health, the life sciences and agriculture. The business worked with Monsanto in 2017 to develop assays for the detection of certain biomolecules in crops, pests and diseases.

The latest collaboration seeks to develop a portable form of Ontera’s molecular diagnostic platform to detect diseases and resistances in plants. A 20 minute in-field test will warn of potential yield-threatening issues, providing “easy-to-use, laboratory-quality molecular information in the field to enable early, more precise treatment of plant diseases and ensure healthy, high quality crop yields”, say the partners.

“Innovative diagnostic technology to catch threats to yield and quality early on is vital for modern, sustainable agriculture,” comments Jürgen Huff, senior vice-president R&D crop protection at BASF Agricultural Solutions. “Ontera’s platform is a great complement to the strong innovation portfolio of BASF – it provides farmers with critical information needed to save crops, reduce losses and optimise pesticide applications.”