After raising $2.9M earlier this year, Canadian Agtech start-up Lucent BioSciences has now announced positive results from field trials of its new fertilizer. Created using patented technology, Soileos is a cellulose-based micronutrient fertilizer available as a granule, seed coating, soil amendment or NPK granule coating.
Soileos binds micronutrients such as manganese, copper, iron and boron with organic agricultural waste such as rice hulls, lentil hulls & fibre, wheat straw, barley straw, and coconut fibre. With no risk of toxicity the resulting fertilizer is organic and water insoluble, this means it remains in the soil close to crop roots, where it releases nutrients throughout the growing season.
Conventional chemical fertilizers are expensive and can quickly leach into rivers and ground water. This reduces their availability to crops whilst inadvertently impacting on human and environmental health. Whilst requiring repeated applications, current micronutrient fertilizers like chelates, oxides and oxy-sulphates are also ineffective in high alkaline soils.
Soileos fertilizer increases crop yields
This year, field trials using Soileos were performed on fruit, vegetable and broad-acre crops at farms across Canada, together with the inclusion of a co-product from AGT Foods (an investor in Lucent BioSciences). Soileos showed promising results in each crop type tested:
- Tests on broad-acre crops showed an increase in yields of up to 20 per cent and stand count improvement of up to 35 per cent per square metre.
- Tests on vegetables showed yield improvements of up to 45 per cent and micronutrient density improvements up to 50 per cent, including in iron, zinc and manganese.
“With the support from [investors] Protein Industries Canada and AGT Foods we have been able to scale up a unique technology from lab to production,” said Lucent BioSciences CEO Michael Riedijk. “The results of the field trials are outstanding. It shows there are exciting opportunities for innovation in agriculture that combine sustainability with improved crop quality and yield.”
“The results of these field trials are a positive step forward in finding new uses for plant-protein co-products that traditionally went to waste,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “Soileos has the potential to positively affect the lives of Canadians along the value chain, from farmers to processors, and I look forward to seeing how that potential develops.”
Lucent BioSciences is on a mission to address climate impact on global food security and nutrition by developing solutions that regenerate the land and the oceans while capturing carbon to reverse climate change. The company expects to start commercializing Soileos within the next year.