Pitch pays off for startup organic fertilizer maker

Fertilizer made from pea and lentil hulls wins supercluster funding and praise from environment minister

Finding a valuable use for pea and lentil hulls will increase the value of those crops for farmers, said Michael Riedijk, CEO of Lucent BioSciences.
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Apitch at an ag innovation forum a year ago has paid dividends for a Vancouver company that wants to make fertilizer out of waste material from pulse processing.

Lucent Plant BioSciences and its partners — including pulse trader and processor AGT Foods — is receiving $1.3 million from the protein supercluster to help develop a fertilizer called Soileos. The two companies teamed up after AGT Foods’ CEO Murad Al-Katib saw a Lucent presentation at a Regina economic development forum and saw a way to make profitable use of his pea and lentil hull waste.

In addition to the $1.3 million contributed by Protein Industries Canada, a consortium of partners, including AGT Foods is putting in $1.7 million in the project, which was hailed by the federal environment minister.

“This new technology allows farmers and processors to use more of the seed as an organic micronutrient, adding value to pea and lentil crops,” Jonathan Wilkinson said in announcing the supercluster funding at the Canadian Crops Convention here.

“This new technology is organic, cheap and effective and it represents the best of regenerative agriculture. Collaborations like this one help Canada meet a global food demand that is growing quickly.”

Soileos is a fertilizer made from pea and lentil hulls. photo: Alexis Kienlen

Soileos is a new type of micronutrient fertilizer, said Lucent BioSciences CEO Michael Riedijk.

“Using waste products as a fertilizer transforms a revenue stream that is only worth a few hundred dollars to a product that is worth a few thousand dollars per tonne,” he said.

On its website, the company says Soileos can increase yields by “up to 20 per cent” in alkaline soils, increase the “nutrient density” of crops, and because it is water insoluble, won’t leach into groundwater. It states the product uses cellulose as a chelate for delivering micronutrients.

“Through a patented micronutrient delivery technology developed by Lucent Biosciences, Soileos binds micronutrients to cellulose fibres, delivering a new class of smart micronutrient fertilizers that does not leach and increase yield of more nutritious crops through an ‘on-demand’ release of micronutrients,” the website states.

The fertilizer is currently being tested in greenhouses, and field tests are being run by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the company said. The new funding will allow Lucent, which began developing Soileos three years ago, to expand its research and development and build a pilot plant able to produce a tonne of the fertilizer a day. With the help of AGT, the company will be conducting 20 field trials across Canada this year.

About the author


Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."



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