Innovation Profile: Pivot Bio

Mark Reisinger Pivot Bio

Pivot Bio PROVEN™ in has sold out inventories for both '19 and '20 crop years in the US.

Farmers across the Corn Belt are a taking an innovative new approach to fertilizing their corn crop, thanks to new technology introduced by Pivot Bio.

Instead of applying synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to fields or growing crops, farmers are applying Pivot Bio PROVEN™ microbes during planting. As the corn plant grows, the microbes in Pivot Bio PROVEN™ adhere to the plant’s roots, produce nitrogen and deliver it directly to the plant during the most important stages of the growing season.

Pivot Bio PROVEN™ is the company’s first product and was developed to deliver the nitrogen that growing crops need while avoiding some of the unintended issues associated with application and use of synthetic nitrogen such as volatilization and leaching. Research has shown that about half up the synthetic nitrogen fertilizer applied to corn is not used by plant as a result of unpredictable weather and other environmental factors.

“With Pivot Bio PROVEN™, farmers know that nitrogen is delivered efficiently and at the time the growing plant needs those nutrients,” said Mark Reisinger, Vice President – Commercial Operations, Pivot Bio.

The company was launched in 2011 by Karsten Temme, Ph.D. and Alvin Tamsir, Ph.D., who met while pursuing their doctorate degrees, but the passion for serving farmers was sparked when Temme was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa.

“I became keenly aware of the challenges facing rural Iowa and the agriculture community. I was surprised to learn that the expense of fertilizer is bigger than any expected profit or loss for a farm,” Temme wrote in a blog post. “Re-inventing fertilizer seemed the perfect way to reduce financial risk for the farmer, improve yield stability at each harvest, and reduce the global impact of fertilizer pollution.”

The company has expanded its lab, offices, and greenhouses since early 2019 to meet the growing demand for its product as well as add additional space for more experiments and testing. Part of this expansion includes a Customer Success Center at the ISU Research Park in Ames, which provides Pivot Bio with a location close to customers and partners where they can host meetings, offer training for sales representatives and employees, and provide office space for its growing employee base in the Midwest.

“We expect to have about 20 employees at the Customer Success Center over the next six months,” said Reisinger. “Establishing a hub for Pivot Bio in the Midwest is a critical component of our growth, and we couldn’t be more pleased with our space at the ISU Research Park. It’s a convenient location to provide training for our customers and reps. As we continue to expand, this office will further help us attract the great employees Iowa has to offer.”

Pivot Bio launched Pivot Bio PROVEN™ in 2019 and has sold out inventories for both 2019 and 2020 crop years in the United States. The company just released its first product for U.S. wheat crops, Pivot Bio RETURN™, in a limited early-adopter program for 2020.

After multiple years of lab, greenhouse, and large, on-farm trials, Pivot Bio PROVEN™ continues to demonstrate results equivalent to or better than the trials using synthetic nitrogen fertilizer alone. In addition to commercial sales, Pivot Bio partners with innovative growers and universities to gather data and better understand the full impact of reducing synthetic nitrogen. Iowa State University is among the agronomy programs testing Pivot Bio PROVEN™ this year. Other universities trialing the product include the University of Arkansas, University of Illinois, University of Nebraska, University of Minnesota, and Kansas State University. The company’s 2019 performance report details the university-managed trials demonstrated a 6 bushel per acre yield advantage using Pivot Bio PROVEN™ compared to trials using only synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. The full 2019 performance report is available on the company’s website.

“We have many on-farm trials underway across the Corn Belt and several that are just a few miles from our Customer Service Center,” said Reisinger. “As the growing season unfolds, we are working closely with our farmer cooperators and independent sales reps to gather data about our product and how it compares to acres without Pivot Bio PROVEN™. We’re looking forward to sharing these results and observations throughout the growing season and after harvest.”