Apr. 5, 2018
Organic crop production has long been limited by the potency, or lack thereof, of organic fertilizers. But a recently developed method uses bacteria isolated from the stomachs of cattle to produce an organic fertilizer so rich with ammonium that it rivals traditional synthetic fertilizers, and it eliminates a significant contributor to global warming.
The key is in hyper-ammonia-producing, or HAP, bacteria, says Brian Ward, an organic vegetable scientist at Clemson's Coastal Research and Education Center (REC) in Charleston, S.C. Ward recently received a patent for the production process, which describes methods for producing ammonia and ammonium in accordance with strict organic farming certification standards, as well as the bioreactors needed to carry out those methods.
Organic fertilizers effectiveness depends on how active bacteria are in the soil. Ward's process overcomes that obstacle through the use of what he calls "extreme bacteria" to effectively activate the nitrogen in the soil. And with the patent for that process now in place, Ward's next goal is to increase its output to a level between 1,000 to 10,000 liters of production.
At that level, it's scalable for mass production. Making the process all the more innovative, there are no fossil fuels involved, meaning it's an environmentally friendly technology, as well.