A startup has developed a system that allows farmers to produce tailor-made, sustainable biofertiliser on site
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Spotted: Most farms use fertiliser. However, not only is fertiliser a major expense for farmers, its use can also be harmful to the environment. Ammonia, a main ingredient in commercial fertilisers takes a lot of energy to manufacture, most of which comes from burning fossil fuels. Fertilisers also release the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide into the atmospherewhen they are broken down by microbes. Biofertilisers are a more sustainable option. These contain living microorganisms that fix atmospheric nitrogen directly.
To help farmers make greater use of biofertilisers, Nitroterra technology has developed a system that allows farmers to make their own biofertilisers on site, tailoring the microorganisms to suit their precise needs. By continuously monitoring a farm’s soil properties, Nitroterra can also adjust the blends for different seasons, crop resiliency, nutrient density, and yield improvement goals.
Nitroterra first analyses each farms’ soil and uses the data to develop a customised biofertiliser recipe. This biofertiliser is then produced on-site using the company’s proprietary production unit. The modular design of the production unit allows multiple strains of microbes to be produced simultaneously. A single unit can also produce customised biofertilisers for different farms from a single site.
According to the company, biofertilisers are an important step in reversing the damage caused by the use of synthetic fertilisers. “A dramatic and urgent change in farming is needed to protect our soil system. Systematic overuse of synthetic fertilisers driven by the decades-long race for constant yield improvements pollutes soil, waterways, and air with toxic compounds and greenhouse gases, and intensifies effects of droughts and other adverse weather-driven hazards. Soil is losing its natural ability to recuperate and transfer nutrients to plants.”
Nitroterra is not the only company concerned about the environmental cost of synthetic fertiliser use. At Springwise, we have covered a number of innovations aimed at farming more sustainably. These include planting in a grid pattern to improve yields while using less herbicide, and using aquatic plants for food additives to reduce the need for plants that require fertiliser.
Written By: Lisa Magloff