Azotic Technologies, a UK-based global ag-tech company, was established in January 2012 to develop and commercialise a natural nitrogen-fixing technology (N-Fix®). N-Fix® is a disruptive technology which has the potential to totally transform agriculture and is unique to Azotic. A marketable product is now being commercialised with positive benefits to growers.
Agriculture accounts for 80 percent of total nitrous oxide (N₂O) emissions, mainly from the application of fertilisers, and 20 per cent of greenhouse gas discharges which impacts on climate change¹. Agriculture must change in order to reduce nitrogen pollution which is damaging to human health. It will be essential to improve biodiversity in order to future proof agriculture for subsequent generations. Azotic’s natural nitrogen fixing technology provides a sustainable solution to fertiliser overuse and nitrogen pollution.
It is estimated that the world population will grow to 10 billion in 2050. Increasing food production sufficiently to meet future demand whilst reducing pollution will be a major challenge for agriculture. Also, soil degradation and the reduction of arable land compounds this issue. Azotic’s natural nitrogen fixing technology, which is environmentally friendly, will boost plant efficiency and increase crop yields.
Humanity depends on fixed nitrogen to fertilise crops and boost food production. Although nitrates are added in vast quantities to increase crop productivity, this is a very inefficient process with up to 30% of nitrates applied on the land ending up in coastal waters and leached into the atmosphere. This has adversely affected the earth’s nitrogen balance therefore agriculture needs to change.
N-Fix® is a novel technology which is derived from a naturally occurring beneficial food grade bacterium Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus (Gd). This is neither genetic modification (GM) nor bio-engineering. This enables plants to fix nitrogen from the air and replace up to 50 per cent of their nitrogen needs as an alternative to fertiliser. This is a patented innovative technology which will have a huge impact on agriculture – Azotic’s strain of Gd is unique in its ability to colonise plant cells intracellularly. Azotic is the only company offering an “intracellular” strain of Gd in non-legumes. The bacterium Gd does not persist as a free-living soil bacterium, it has been found only when associated with plant material, most notably sugar-cane.
Azotic’s N-Fix® technology is a new way to deliver nitrogen to plants; it is applied to plants via the seed in order to create a symbiotic relationship within the plant enabling it to substitute the nitrogen it normally takes up from the soil with atmospheric nitrogen – thus reducing dependency on nitrogen fertilisers. It works from within plant cells to fix nitrogen from root to leaf all season long. It contains no toxins, is environmentally friendly and helps reduce nitrogen pollution. It has proven efficacy in strategic crops which include corn, soybean, rice, wheat and others.
Market demand for food is changing with the emphasis on greater food security. Consumers require good quality food and supermarkets realise the need for more sustainable produce. Agriculture has to change; it must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, nitrates and other contaminants into the environment as well as increasing food supply. Sustainability is critical, unless the footprint of the food system on the environment is reduced, the capacity of the earth to produce food for humankind will be compromised with grave implications for future food security.
The continued production and use of synthetic nitrogen-based fertilisers is no longer sustainable and growers are being encouraged to adopt more sustainable farming practices. The movement towards climate smart agriculture has encouraged the use of biologicals, bio-fertilisers and seed treatments. Agriculture must progress and adopt new innovative technologies and practices. Transparency will be important in all aspects of the food chain especially farming. N-Fix® is an ideal fit; it is a world first organic technology providing sustainable nitrogen which will boost agriculture. Biological nitrogen fixation will improve modern agriculture at a time when more food is needed to feed an increasing population without damaging the ecosystem.
Azotic's N-Fix® technology won the AgroPages Awards for Novel Fertilisers in 2018 and judged to having great market potential in China. Azotic Technologies was awarded Frost and Sullivan’s 2015 Technology Innovation Award for the European Alternative Fertiliser Industry. Analysts independently evaluated the technology’s attributes and future business value to recognise the Company as having strong overall performance, highlighting the importance of a ground-breaking agricultural solution that allows plants to extract nitrogen from the air rather than from polluting fertilisers.
This ground-breaking nitrogen technology has achieved positive results in the USA through a Grower Partner Programme. It is now registered and officially available in all 50 US states. Commercial sales on corn and soybean in the US has reduced the need for applied nitrogen fertiliser on average by 27% without impacting yield. On corn, applied in-furrow, it delivers on average between 5-13% yield increase and in some cases up to 20%.
In addition, observations have indicated:
▪ Early tillering.
▪ Improved rooting with more fine roots and a more robust root system as the plant matures.
▪ Better plant vigour with advanced growth stages throughout the life cycle.
▪ Plant tissue tests revealed more nitrogen in the plant up through mid-vegetative stages.
Rice trials in Asia have shown very positive results. In three Vietnamese rice trials the overall response was a mean average 20% (825 kg/ha) yield increase across all the field trials (2017). Further rice trials in Thailand and the Philippines showed that there was a positive effect on yield at all of the trials; the N-Fix® treated plots yielded 17% (645 kg/ha) more than the untreated, with a 1 t/ha (29%) increase being seen at 50% of the recommended fertiliser N (2018). Also, when N-Fix® was applied with the full recommended level of N there was a significant increase in yield of 7% equivalent to 300 kg/ha.
This technology generates high yield production in agriculture combined with nitrogen sustainability. It is ubiquitous to all crops and provides a cost benefit to the grower through reduced fertiliser costs and increased yields. Another benefit is cleaner and superior quality food for the consumer.
Peter Blezard, CEO of Azotic, said: “Agriculture requires more efficient and sustainable farming practices in order to increase food supply and maintain biodiversity. Positive results highlight the efficacy of our revolutionary technology in making crops nitrogen-fixing and with the resulting increased yields. This technology is a must for commercial agriculture where yield, cost and pollution needs can be optimised”
Azotic’s progression is quite remarkable. The company has developed its own strain of Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus (Gd) and transformed that into a marketable product. The scale up and production of an inoculant via the development of a specific fermentation process has resulted in the first commercial product of its kind. Azotic is delivering this technology to market and continues to add value with new IP. Through its development work on N-Fix, Azotic has identified a new platform nitrogen technology; It will commercialise technologies based on this platform through appropriate partnerships in R&D and routes to market. There is a pipeline of products under development and these include a dry formulation and a foliar spray.
Azotic’s nitrogen fixing technology is a must for agriculture and will certainly change current farming practices. New technologies including N-Fix will play a pivotal role in propelling sustainable agriculture forward.
For more information about N-Fix® technology, please contact email@example.com
¹Agriculture and climate change, McKinsey & Company 2020.
This article was originally published in AgroPages magazine 2020 Biologicals Special.
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