Jul. 6, 2017
♦ Seaweed fertilizer: Worldwide certified product for application during organic farming
Seaweed fertilizer is a novel, highly-efficient and highly-effective fertilizer that uses pure natural seaweed extracts (seaweed polysaccharide and other seaweed actives) as core additives. It combines the nutrient elements required for crop growth and incorporates nutritional and regulatory functions.
Seaweed fertilizer has developed in three stages: The first-generation seaweed fertilizer is water-logged and compost-based farmyard manure, which is applied to farmland or seashore; the second-generation seaweed fertilizer is seaweed extract added with nutrient elements; the third-generation seaweed fertilizer is a seaweed biostimulant product, made of seaweed essence added with the synergy of fertilizer. It is currently available in the market.
The usual raw materials for seaweed fertilizer are mainly brown algae (bladder wrack, kelp and sargassum), as well as green algae represented by Enteromorpha prolifera
. So far, the seaweed extract of Seawin Biotech
has obtained EC and NOP input certifications for organic farming.
There are globally about 1,500 tons of seaweed products being produced each year (FAO, 2006), which generates an economic value of $59.93 billion. However, phytonutrient supplement and biofertilizer, which enhance crop growth and increase yield, only account for 1.6%. According to the statistics, the economic value of seaweed fertilizer in Europe in 2012 was EUR2-4 billion. An estimation indicates that this value could be globally around EUR8 billion, which accounts for only 2% of the total agricultural material market value (inclusive of fertilizer, insecticide and fungicide).
♦ Compound growth rate of Chinese seaweed fertilizer industry exceeded 50%
The Chinese market is an integral part of the global seaweed fertilizer market. While large amounts of imported seaweed fertilizer products pour into the Chinese agricultural material market, native Chinese seaweed agricultural applications are also being promoted. Information shows that at least 52 registrations (201512) have been approved by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, involving more than 300 production enterprises.
Since the concept of seaweed biostimulant evolved, along with the growth of biostimulant development in the world, the implementation of China’s zero-growth policy on the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and people’s demand for quality farm product, China has experienced an explosive growth in the use of seaweed extract-based seaweed fertilizer. The annual growth rate has reached over 30%, which would reach 50% if all the fertilizers added with seaweed are included.
Seaweed fertilizer has broad prospects, both at home and abroad. Conventional chemical pesticides have limited effect and are causing pollution; their long-term applications will result in damages to the soil structure. Seaweed fertilizer is a natural seaweed extract, which is safe and free of nuisance. Compared with conventional fertilizers, seaweed fertilizer contains all the required nutrients, such as seaweed polysaccharide, oligosaccharide, mannitol and natural antibiotics. Seaweed fertilizer has evident bacteriostatic, antiviral and insecticidal efficacy. It enhances significantly the crop’s resistance to cold, drought, lodging, salinity and alkalinity. The natural compound of seaweed fertilizer can facilitate the formation of granular structure, improve the inner pore space of soil and increase the microbial viability of soil, being beneficial to root growth and enhancement of crop’s stress resistance and successive planting tolerance.
♦ Seawin Biotech – A seaweed fertilizer resource-oriented company
Based on the former Bioengineering Development Ltd affiliated to China Ocean University, Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group
started utilization of marine biological resources and product development quite early in China. It was founded in 2000 within the campus of China Ocean University in Qingdao. Since its development until now, Seawin Biotech has established an industry chain that links the utilization and industrialization of marine biological resources.
Backed by the geographical location of brown seaweed and green algae raw materials, Seawin Biotech is in possession of algae resource exploitation apparatus, biological pretreatment device, automatic seaweed polysaccharide preparation equipment, seaweed fertilizer production facility and proprietary brands. It is a seaweed fertilizer production-oriented company, which takes the lead in the development of Chinese seaweed fertilizer industry.
Enteromorpha Prolifera Treatment Platform for Seawin Biotech: The working ship Seawinner 1 (left, displacement 3,700 tons) and working ship Seawinner 2 (right, displacement 5,000 tons)
Brown seaweed polysaccharide is of macro molecular structure, which is absorbed relatively slowly by crops, while green seaweed polysaccharide is of micro molecular structure, which is utilized quickly by crops once it is applied into the soil. The combination of the two allows the fertilizer to combine both quick- and slow-acting functions. Based on the double seaweed concept and supported by the abundant raw materials, Seawin Biotech has developed product portfolio centered on its Seawinner series.
The activity of seaweed polysaccharide is the basis to achieve the special efficacy of seaweed fertilizer; the extraction process directly affects the extraction efficiency, stability and effectiveness of active ingredients. To make up for the weakness of seaweed polysaccharide-oriented acid-alkali extraction process, Seawin Biotech has developed a new process for seaweed polysaccharide extraction — complex biological enzymolysis technology which uses bio-enzyme to break plant histocyte to release active ingredients. Its advantage lies in its mild condition, easy removal of impurity and increase in the yield. Furthermore, the process can increase the dissolution rate of seaweed polysaccharide and maintain biological activity without change to the greatest extent. In the meantime, waste water under the process can be reclaimed without the discharge of sewage. The solid waste of seaweed and kelp residues can all be recovered for production of organic and inorganic complex fertilizer.
Seaweed polysaccharide biological extraction process of Seawin Biotech
So far, Seawin Biotech has obtained more than 50 proprietary intellectual property rights, including a number of patents covering the microbial pre-treatment technology, targeted enzymolysis technology of active components of seaweed, chelating technology of green alga polysaccharide with medium and trace elements and the accurate positioning technology of alga polysaccharide molecular. Seawin Biotech has also established the world’s sole large-scale polysaccharide extraction, purification, preparation and formulation production base with an annual production capacity of 1,000 tons of high-purity seaweed polysaccharide, 300 tons of premium seaweed glycopeptide biological product, 20,000 tons of novel seaweed-based organic water-soluble fertilizer and 10,000 tons of animal immunopotentiator.
♦ China’s first high-precision alginic acid detection method promoting healthy industrial development
Seaweed biostimulant product development is constrained by the absence of an industry standard. Seaweed fertilizer is a novel fertilizer, for which there is no Chinese national standard that can be applied. Besides this, the lack of scientific and rational detection method results in market chaos and difficulties in distinguishing between genuine seaweed fertilizer products and fakes. This situation has seriously impacted the healthy and orderly development of seaweed fertilizer industry. It has become very urgent and imperative to formulate seaweed fertilizer product standard.
In 2016, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued the industry standards — Alginic Acid Fertilizer (HG/T5050-2016) and Alginic Acid-Contained Urea (HG/T5040-2016), which to a certain extent have been helpful in promoting the seaweed fertilizer industry development. However, the preliminary alginic acid detection method specified in the standards contains many errors, where the impact to the results of detection as caused by exterior additives cannot be excluded neither can a “pure product” or “mixed product” be judged. A more scientific and accurate alginic acid detection method has to be explored.
Through continued research trials, Seawin Biotech has found out that the hydroxydiphenyl method for detection of active ingredients of seaweed fertilizer is more stable than the carbazole method being used now. This is a new way of detection of alginic acid, as initiated by a Chinese enterprise.
The carbazole method means that alginic acid is hydrolyzed, and then uronic acid is generated, which reacts to carbazole, and a purple-red compound is generated that can be detected at 530 nanometer (nm) wave length by spectrophotometer. The hydroxydiphenyl method means that hexasaccharide aldehyde, after going through sulfuric acid which contains sodium tetraborate, is further reacted with phenylphenol, and then a purple-red compound is generated, with an absorption maximum wavelength of 520nm.
Trials have revealed that the hydroxydiphenyl method is more stable than carbazole method, particularly following the detection of alginic acid of fertilizers, where carbazole method is affected by lots of interference factors causing unstable detection results.
The hydroxydiphenyl method has good accuracy and anti-interference property. Phenylphenol is stable toward neutral sugars, including glucose, sucrose, molasses, but is particularly colorated upon uronic acid. Carbazole is colorated to a certain degree toward neutral sugars, which forms interference.
Detection results of carbazole method
Detection results of hydroxydiphenyl method
The renovation and common application of this method will push Chinese seaweed fertilizer industry forward to new heights, where Seawin Biotech is working hard to be a strong competitor in the global seaweed fertilizer market by virtue of its technical strength and resource advantage.
Director of International Business Dept., Seawin Biotech
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