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Fertilizers system

VitalFluid’s reactor feeds greenhouse crops literally at lightning speed

Ever thought about why lightning happens? It’s one of the ways Mother Nature nourishes plants, trees and forests. The Eindhoven-based company VitalFluid has mimicked that process.

By simulating the effect of one of these lightning bolts, it is now possible to fertilize greenhouse crops in a sustainable way. The method could also be used for crop protection in the near future. An application for treating burns and skin diseases is still in a test phase.

CEO Paul Leenders founded the company VitalFluid in 2014 out of his previous company in response to a project with TU/e, Wageningen University & Research, Radboudumc, and several companies from Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Disinfectant properties
The theory behind VitalFluid’s application is not overly complicated. Using electricity, the machine brings ambient air into a plasma phase, the 4th state of aggregation (solid, liquid, gas, plasma). Ambient air is composed of 20 percent oxygen and 80 percent nitrogen. Those portions of oxygen and nitrogen become reactive and then dissolve into the water. As a result, this water temporarily acquires disinfectant properties. This effect disappears after about 20 minutes. What remains is water that contains nitrate, which is the most important nutrient for plants and crops to grow.

“That process is taken step-by-step from nature,” Leenders emphasizes its cradle to cradle design. “A real ‘nature-based process’; a ‘mimicry’ of a thunderstorm. Because exactly the same thing happens in a thunderstorm. When lightning strikes -and it does so about 8 million times a day – the air around that lightning bolt also enters a plasma phase. It is one of nature’s methods of fixating nitrogen. Ten percent of all fixated nitrogen on earth takes place through lightning. So, that represents a significant contribution. This is how nature feeds plants, crops, and forests with nitrogen. It’s a really important natural fertilizer. We have managed to capture that process in a reactor.”

Bundling of processes
The process can be precisely controlled in the VitalFluid reactor which means that more or less oxygen or nitrogen can be added to the water as needed. However, a great deal of research was required in order to succeed. This is because the whole concept is a combination of various electrophysical and chemical processes. One of the main research efforts was to find the right kind of control equipment. “It was quite a challenge to get that process right. That’s also where our know-how is at the moment.”

Read the complete article at www.innovationorigins.com.

For more information:vital logo
VitalFluid                                                                                                                  /fertilizers-system/
info@vitalfluid.nl
www.vitalfluid.nl
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Cultivation

Strawberry substrate production systems: a review by Omafra

Growers have many options when it comes to establishing strawberry substrate production. OMAFRA’s Erica Pate reviews different container options, tabletop and suspended systems, and different structures used for strawberry substrate production.

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Fertilizers system

Fermenting food waste to improve crop growth

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There’s a better end for used food than taking up space in landfills and contributing to global warming.

​Beneficial bacteria flourished in citrus growing systems treated with fermented waste by-products. UC Riverside scientists have discovered fermented food waste can boost bacteria that increase crop growth, making plants more resistant to pathogens and reducing carbon emissions from farming.

“Beneficial microbes increased dramatically when we added fermented food waste to plant growing systems,” said UCR microbiologist Deborah Pagliaccia, who led the research. “When there are enough of these good bacteria, they produce antimicrobial compounds and metabolites that help plants grow better and faster.”

Since the plants in this experiment were grown in a greenhouse, the benefits of the waste products were preserved within a closed watering system. The plant roots received a fresh dose of the treatment each time they were watered.

Sustainable cycle
“This is one of the main points of this research,” Pagliaccia said. “To create a sustainable cycle where we save water by recycling it in a closed irrigation system and at the same time add a product from food waste that helps the crops with each watering cycle.”

These results were recently described in a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. Food waste poses a serious threat to the planet. In the U.S. alone, as much as 50% of all food is thrown away. Most of this waste isn’t recycled, but instead, takes up more than 20% of America’s landfill volume.

This waste represents not only an economic loss, but a significant waste of freshwater resources used to produce food, and a misuse of what could otherwise feed millions of low-income people who struggle with food security.

Alternative uses of food waste
To help combat these issues, the UCR research team looked for alternative uses for food waste. They examined the byproducts from two kinds of waste that is readily available in Southern California: beer mash — a byproduct of beer production — and mixed food waste discarded by grocery stores.

Both types of waste were fermented by River Road Research and then added to the irrigation system watering citrus plants in a greenhouse. Within 24 hours, the average population of beneficial bacteria were two to three orders of magnitude greater than in plants that did not receive the treatments, and this trend continued each time the researchers added treatments.

UCR environmental scientist Samantha Ying and her team then studied the carbon dynamics and nutrients including nitrogen in the soil of the treated crops. The analysis showed a spike in the amount of carbon in irrigation water after being treated with waste products, followed by a sharp decrease, suggesting the beneficial bacteria used the available carbon to replicate.

Pagliaccia explained that this finding has an impact on the growth of the bacteria and on the crops themselves. “If waste byproducts can improve the carbon to nitrogen ratio in crops, we can leverage this information to optimize production systems,” she said.

No Salmonella
Another finding of note is that neither the beer mash nor the mixed food waste products tested positive for Salmonella or other pathogenic bacteria, suggesting they would not introduce any harmful element to food crops.

“There is a pressing need to develop novel agricultural practices,” said UCR plant pathologist and study co-author Georgios Vidalakis. “California’s citrus, in particular, is facing historical challenges such as Huanglongbing bacterial disease and limited water availability,” said Georgios Vidalakis, a UCR plant pathologist.

The paper’s results suggest using these two types of food waste byproducts in agriculture is beneficial and could complement the use synthetic chemical additives by farmers — in some cases relieving the use of such additives altogether. Crops would in turn become less expensive.

Shell byproducts
Pagliaccia and Ying also recently received a California Department of Food and Agriculture grant to conduct similar experiments using almond shell byproducts from Corigin Solutions to augment crops. This project is also supported with funding from the California Citrus Nursery Board, Corigin Solutions, and by the California Agriculture and Food Enterprise.

“Forging interdisciplinary research collaborations and building public-private sector partnerships will help solve the challenges facing global agri-food systems,” said UCR co-author Norman Ellstrand, a distinguished professor of genetics.

When companies enable growers to use food waste byproducts for agricultural purposes, it helps move society toward a more eco-friendly system of consumption.

“We must transition from our linear ‘take-make-consume-dispose’ economy to a circular one in which we use something and then find a new purpose for it. This process is critical to protecting our planet from constant depletion of natural resources and the threat of greenhouse gases,” Pagliaccia said. “That is the story of this project.”

For more information:
University of California Riverside
www.ucr.edu

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Fertilizers system

US: New fertilizer adjuvant presented

Verano365® has launched a new adjuvant that improves fertilizer efficiency, benefiting greenhouse growers’ return on investments in applied nutrient inputs. Evofactor™ uses the company’s proprietary technology, OpusMAX™, to promote nutrient availability to plants when it is used with water-soluble fertilizers as part of a regular fertigation schedule.

Evofactor aims to give growers the choice regarding the outcome that’s most valuable to their operation: either a reduction in the amount of applied fertilizer to yield plants of equitable size and health to what they’re producing today; or, increased biomass in crops that receive the same fertilizer rate they’re using currently. Both outcomes result from Evofactor’s intention to make plant nutrition solutions more readily available through localization. OpusMAX creates supramolecular structures of the active ingredients in fertilizers, ultimately delivering highly concentrated nutrients to the plant.

“Evofactor can meet a grower where they are with increased nutrient assimilation,” said David Coorts, technical director at Verano365. “With more nutrients available to the plant, a grower can expect to see increased biomass with their current fertilization program when Evofactor is introduced. Or, if a grower wants to decrease the amount of fertilizer in their operation, the increased nutrient assimilation will allow for that—letting them reduce the applied fertilizer by a corresponding amount, which could be up to 50 percent.”

“Data from Verano365’s internal testing and third-party trials, with tissue analysis conducted by A&L Laboratories, show that Evofactor results in increased nutrient assimilation in plants. Uptake rates of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium saw a significant uptick in the studies”.

A single case (five gallons) of Evofactor could replace up to 750 pounds (30, 25-pounds bags) of water-soluble fertilizer. A single pallet (180 gallons) of Evofactor could replace up to 28,000 pounds (14 pallets) of water-soluble fertilizer, according to David.

“Horticultural growers in the U.S. spend close to $400 million per year on fertilizers, a large part of a grower’s budget,” said Herbert Rabalais, account director of Verano365. “Unfortunately, due to many factors, a significant amount of fertilizer is never assimilated into the plant. Evofactor allows growers to drive more uptake of a fertilizer’s nutrients into the plant, giving them an opportunity to use fertilizers more efficiently, creating a positive impact on a grower’s bottom line and the environment.”

Evofactor is the third product release from the Texas-based start-up in the last 12 months utilizing OpusMax to increase the efficacy of horticultural inputs. Evofactor is patent-pending.

LAUNCH DAY: Evofactor is our latest innovation that allows growers to reduce the use of fertilizer while still growing healthy plants.🌱 https://t.co/T8k4u3iUNB pic.twitter.com/2O7819FjOV

— Verano365 (@verano365) January 12, 2021
For more information:
Verano365
Dawn McKenzie
375 Commerce St., Suite #100
Southlake, TX 76092
www.verano365.com

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