A Pukekohe company is riding high on a wave of support for environmentally friendly pesticides.

Bioagritech producer Greentide is at the forefront of the development of biological pesticides for the horticultural industry using fungi.

The company has worked alongside scientists to discover about 100 strains of entomopathogenic fungi - fungi that can kill or seriously maim insects.

Greentide managing director Stephen Ford is a self-confessed "fungal superfreak".

"It's all I do. I live, eat and breathe growing fungus and solving growers' problems around diseases," he said.

He also has a passion for biological pest control.

Ford said in a little over 40 years, between 1940 and 1984, crop loss had risen from 7 to 13 per cent while pesticide use had increased 12 times.

There had also been a dramatic increase in the number of weeds and insects resistant to chemical pesticides, he said.

"The pesticide model, because of the evolution of resistance, is not a sustainable model for horticulture."

Twelve years ago Ford's concern for the environmental impact of chemical pesticides saw him leave his job selling chemical pest control solutions and form Greentide.

It hasn't been an easy road and Ford admitted if it hadn't been for the support of a few key players the company would have gone broke several times.

The problem has been that growers have always seen chemical pesticides as the only option for getting consistent results.

"My customers are in the job of feeding the planet and the reality is to be able to do that they need reliable controls.

"Now unfortunately the perception is that chemistry is reliable and the biological industry is not." In 2008 Greentide cracked the technology that ensured the necessary reliability and consistency for growers.

It comes perfectly timed to take advantage of a consumer desire for residue-free produce and large markets aiming to go pesticide-free.

Ford said Greentide was positioned to bridge the gap between consumer sentiment and growers needing a reliable pest control solution.

That bridge is an enormous market - Ford estimates it is worth $14 billion - and Greentide has ambitions to become the largest producer of safe, environmentally friendly products in the world.

"We have great desires to be able to grow our business of hundreds of thousands of litres of this material and send it out to the world and produce a real industry for New Zealand," said Ford.

Greentide is tapping into the funding and expertise available through the University of Auckland Entrepreneurs' Challenge to assist it on its path to global domination.

Greentide is one of 10 finalists in with a chance to grab a share of $1 million in growth capital.

Ford said that if Greentide was successful the money would be put towards expanding the production base at a faster rate. The Entrepreneurs' Challenge winners will be announced next month.