Arcadia Biosciences (NASDAQ:RKDA) just posted field trials outcomes from the last two crop seasons. The verdict? Three of the agricultural tech company’s proprietary input traits revealed meaningful boosts in rice yields, to the tune of double-digit gains. In reaction, investors can be heard celebrating as shares jump almost 12% today in the market.
Columbia’s International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) hosted trials where multiple rice lines carrying the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), water use efficiency (WUE), as well as salinity tolerance (ST) traits beat out appropriate control lines ay a 25% average below limiting nitrogen applications. This was on a basis of measurement for yield, where the lead line generated as much as 33% more. The same lines yielded an average of 40 % more than controls under combined limiting nitrogen and drought conditions in the field, with the lead line showing 50 percent higher yield under multiple abiotic stresses.
Previous field trials in California by Arcadia had shown the potential for stacking these traits in rice as a tool to safeguard food security, and the recent data from CIAT confirms that there may be synergistic effects between traits that protect crops against various abiotic stresses. These results indicate Arcadia’s rice crop can offer a new strategy to preserve yield from potential loss due to climate change. In addition, Arcadia’s rice varieties offer more efficient nitrogen use, effective nutrient management, optimizing uptake and reducing nutrient loss and leaching, a global environmental concern.
“Arcadia is a recognized leader in the area of abiotic stress mitigation traits targeting meaningful yield gains in the most important crops in the world,” said Raj Ketkar, president and CEO. “These results show that our agricultural productivity traits hold significant promise to help farmers globally as they deal with the effects of a variety of challenging growing conditions, such as nutrient-deficient soil, drought and salinity, enabling them to increase yields and improve farm revenue.”
Rice is the world’s most valuable crop, with an annual harvest value of around $340 billion. Americans eat an average of 26 pounds of rice annually, while Asians consume 300 pounds per year per capita. Global rice production in 2017 was 837.3 million tons, grown on 399 million acres worldwide, roughly equivalent to the surface area of Iran, the 17th largest country in the world.
The triple-stack trait trials in rice are part of the NEWEST project, coordinated by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and sponsored by the Feed the Future initiative of USAID. AATF recently secured continued funding for performing regulatory field trials with NUE rice in Africa.