BOOSTER-Mag magnesium hydroxide insecticide gains approval

This foliar spray claims to act as a fertiliser and also assist with crop protection as it fulfils a need for lower-toxicity or non-toxic product to help manage crops

Environmental technology company Calix Limited has gained APVMA approval to release its claimed environmentally friendly BOOSTER-Mag into local growers cropping systems

Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is the first regulator anywhere in the world to allow a magnesium hydroxide insecticide into the cropping system.

The registration of BOOSTER-Mag is the culmination of six years of scientific product and application development and is a major milestone for developer Calix and its Biotech business.

According to a peer-reviewed study by Francisco Sánchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney and Kris Wyckhuys of the University of Queensland in Australia, “Unless we change our way of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades.”

Calix has developed BOOSTER-Mag as an easy-to-apply foliar spray that both acts as a fertiliser and assists with crop protection. The company says demand is growing for non-chemical safer and sustainable alternatives to conventional pesticides.

Calix says this product release fulfils the market’s need for lower-toxicity or non-toxic products that can help manage crops.

This initial registration validates that the unique form of Calix materials can be safely applied to suppress a highly destructive crop pest. With suppression efficacy also apparent on additional crop pests and a variety of crop diseases, the initial registration provides a solid basis to expand the addressable market.

BOOSTER-Mag application

Calix’s core calcination technology enables the production of unique materials characterised by their high porosity and reactivity. Due to the intrinsic safety of produced materials, Calix has focused on the production of highly porous magnesium oxide and magnesium hydroxide products which are bioactive – early laboratory studies indicated that materials were capable of supressing common and highly destructive crop diseases.

BOOSTER-Mag is a suspension concentrate (“SC”) of bioactive magnesium hydroxide, developed as a foliar treatment to supress a variety of crop insect pests and diseases. Large-scale fpaddock trials have indicated that regular foliar application of BOOSTER-Mag reduces grower reliance on conventional pesticides without compromising crop yield or yield quality.

The BOOSTER-Mag value proposition can be summarised as a way to reduce grower input costs and produce food more safely and sustainably.

With the support of grant funding through the AusIndustry Accelerated Commercialisation program, Calix completed a six-year development and testing program, culminating in the January 2020 submission of a technical dossier to the APVMA.

In June 2021, it was announced that the Australian Government’s Manufacturing Modernisation Fund (“MMF”) would support Calix to develop and transform its biotech manufacturing capability at its Bacchus Marsh facility in Victoria through the award of a grant of $1 million. The MMF grant is being used to transform the development of, and establish an advanced manufacturing capability for, bioactive materials for crop protection, marine coatings, and health and pharmaceutical applications.

International collaboration, supported by the Australian Government, with the Greek research organisation, CERTH, developed insights into the mode of action of BOOSTER-Mag on tomatoes by measuring the microbiological response of the sprayed plants. The published results support a view that BOOSTER-Mag may have a broad range of applications in agriculture.

APVMA approved

In Australia, all agricultural and veterinary chemical products sold are required to be registered by the APVMA.

The APVMA acts as the Australian Government regulator of agricultural and veterinary (“Agvet”) chemical products.

The registration process involves scientifically evaluating the safety and effectiveness of a product in order to protect the health and safety of people, animals, plants and the environment.

The APVMA regulates Agvet products up to, and including, the point of retail sale. Once approved by the APVMA, a product can be sold for the sole purposes and uses as stated on the product’s label.

Market size and need

The initial label release allows BOOSTER-Mag to be applied for the suppression of two spotted mite in tomato and cucurbit crops, which present an addressable market opportunity estimated at 16,000 ha in Australia. Both tomato and cucurbit crops are vulnerable to insect pests and disease and, as such, conventional pesticides are critical.

In addition, BOOSTER-Mag is part of several larger paddock trials overseas where other types of crops and applications (eg anti-fungi) are being evaluated.

Next Steps

Calix is developing commercial relationships with specialist global crop protection companies with the expertise and capability to fully utilise Calix’s material bioactivity. BOOSTER-Mag paddock trials are currently underway.

This action will support initial market entry and extend the BOOSTER-Mag label, allowing for its use in major crops in Australia and internationally and increasing the addressable market, which conservatively is estimated at 500,000 ha. 

More product information and video is available on this link:  https://www.calix.global/biotech-focus-area/making-crop-protection-safer/

How BOOSTER-Mag gained its foothold

  • In January 2020, Calix submitted an application to the APVMA seeking registration for BOOSTER-Mag 609 SC as a non-lethal insecticide for the suppression of two-spotted mite (Tetranychus urticae) in tomatoes and cucurbits (paddock and protected crops).
  • APVMA concluded its review in March 2022 and approved the application.
  • BOOSTER-Mag can now be supplied or sold and used safely according to the label directions by growers (using the issue of product registration number #89101).
  • BOOSTER-Mag aims to reduce grower input costs and produce food more safely and sustainably.
  • The initial registration has been approved without restriction on crop residue, reflecting intrinsic BOOSTER-Mag safety.
  • Large-scale paddock trials indicate that regular foliar application of BOOSTER-Mag can allow for a material reduction in the use of conventional pesticides without compromising crop yield or yield quality.
  • The initial label registration creates a bioactive materials platform; establishing product safety and paves the way for expedited approval for use in more crops and more applications.