Gleadell Agriculture recently announced an agreement with Azotic Technologies to develop and market Natural Plant Nutrition (NPN4) nitrogen-fixing technology across the UK. NPN4 technology colonises all crops with naturally occurring nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These spread throughout the plant, enabling every cell to convert atmospheric N into a form that the growing plant can use.
The exclusive agreement incorporates extensive development work, including seed inoculation and a network of organic and conventional trials across the UK. Gleadell and Azotic, who are in partnership with Dutch company Koppert Biological Systems, which manufactures NPN4, are working towards commercialisation. Azotic Technologies, with its laboratories based in Nottingham, was formed in 2012 to commercialise the technology. It has proved the concept in a diverse range of crops globally, including cereals, oilseeds, potatoes and grass. Trials to date show reduced rates of N can be applied to crops when using NPN4, producing similar yields and quality to those grown entirely with artificial nitrogen. When NPN4 is used with normal levels of N, yield increases can be achieved.
Gleadell managing director David Sheppard said: “We are very excited to be working with Azotic Technologies as UK partner on their nitrogen project. “The potential benefits for growers, consumers and the environment are enormous, and we very much look forward to further collaboration with Azotic to bring this technology to commercial reality.”
Gleadell sales director Stuart Shand said the focus for 2017 would be on organic crops, working closely with organisations and individual farmers to further explore the benefits. “However, we believe the technology also has a huge part to play in conventional systems,” he added. “We have been conducting application trials on dressed seed in partnership with Koppert. While this is currently work in progress at this stage, we have seen some very encouraging results.”
Azotic chief executive officer Peter Blezard said: “We are proud to be collaborating with Gleadell, an industry leader in its field. “Our field trials results clearly indicate that the inoculation of NPN4 into plants can improve their performance and reduce the amount of fertiliser required to grow a crop, or increase yield depending on the rate of N applied. “Gleadell is an ideal partner in the UK to help accelerate product development and take this technology to market.”
Paul Koppert, CEO of Koppert Biological Systems, said: “It is great to work with an entrepreneurial company such as Gleadell and the smart Azotic team on this breakthrough technology. “NPN4 aligns with our broadening microbial portfolio of products to improve and protect yields in horticulture and broad-acre crops, and will fit discerning organic growers now and conventional arable farmers later.”