Apr. 7, 2023
Editor’s note: In May 2022, Nanjing Shineking Biotech Co., Ltd. (Nanjing Shineking) established a global business unit for its multi combination biostimulant technical (MCBT), responsible for the overseas marketing and promotion of its portfolio of agricultural-grade biofermentation products and formulations.
Building on Nanjing Shineking’s existing channel resources, MCBT’s global business unit will work with influential traders around the world and leverage the company’s innovation, research and development capabilities, as well as the support of strategic partners, to quickly bring products to the international market. The company’s broad portfolio of biostimulant raw materials and formulations will play a key role in addressing farmers’ issues, such as rising fertilizer and pesticide costs, abiotic stress hazards, soil-borne diseases, heavy metal residues in pesticides, and stress resistance management in agricultural markets in both developed and developing countries.
Shineking’s development history and core technology
Nanjing Shineking Biotech Co., Ltd., formerly known as Nanjing Shineking Biotech Ltd., was established in April 2010 as a comprehensive company integrating biotechnology research and development, manufacturing and services, supported by the four platforms of functional microorganisms, bacterial secretions, fungal secretions and enzyme catalytic products for the research, development and production of core raw material varieties. Together with its product development focused on the application of plant nutrition, daily chemicals, animal nutrition and food, the company has formed a closed loop, from R&D to industrialization.
Nanjing Shineking’s businesses involve plant nutrition, daily chemicals, animal nutrition and food, focusing on the supply of raw materials and production of microbial-derived biostimulants. Based on independently developed and produced biostimulant core raw materials, such as polyglutamic acid, microbial agents, chitosan oligosaccharide, and cell enzymatic solution, the company is exerting considerable efforts to create its brand of multi combination biostimulant technical (MCBT), Gulefeng. Nanjing Shineking now offers a Gulefeng-based solution based on a series of products for bottom application/topdressing, and flushing application and spray application, as well as varied application scenarios, such as biostimulation and biocontrol.
Currently, Nanjing Shineking can produce 40,000 tons of agricultural polyglutamic acid, 200,000 tons of high-end liquid microbial agents and 2,000 tons of agricultural chitosan oligosaccharide per year at its production sites in Nanjing, Shouguang and Chuzhou. The company holds 33 special fertilizer certificates and 19 domestic invention patents, and is the winner of the second prize at the National Technological Invention, the 21st China Patent Silver Award, and the 18th China Patent Excellence Award, as well as first prize at Jiangsu Science and Technology and the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association, among other honors. It is also the leading unit of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for drafting standards for polyglutamic acid.
On September 24, 2020, the name of the company was changed to Nanjing Shineking Biotech Co., Ltd., meaning that Shineking Biotech has entered a new development period. Shineking Biotech is committed to continue adhering to the goal of ″serving big agriculture and big health with advanced industrial biotechnology,″ by making bio-manufacturing its core, and providing comprehensive solutions for ecological agriculture, non-resistant farming and green living. New Shineking and its new platform enable the company to create a ″new era of Shineking″ and a ″new era of biology.″
Nanjing Shineking has the following four advantages. The first is its team advantage. Shineking Biotech has a research team composed of academics and professors who are good at scientific research, as well as the transformation and industrialization of achievements. The second is the fact that Nanjing Shineking is a company with advanced scientific and technological capabilities, highlighted by its various national and provincial awards, including a series of honors or awards, such as the second prize of the National Technology Invention Award. The third is its production capacity advantage. Shineking Biotech has three production sites in Jiangsu’s Nanjing, Shandong’s Shouguang and Anhui’s Chuzhou, with a leading production capacity for polyglutamic acid in China. This advantage further reduces the company’s production costs and enhances its market competitiveness. The fourth is its raw material advantage. Shineking Biotech is capable of independently producing core raw materials, such as polyglutamic acid, chitosan oligosaccharide, microbial agents and PAPS, which is an important ability that distinguishes it from other companies.
Background of the advent of MCBT
From a global perspective, the negative effects of stress have been increasingly severe on crop production. In the past, when the crop growth environment was relatively favorable, only good nutrients were required, but under the effects of stresses, nutrient absorption, utilization and metabolism will be compromised, requiring effective control and regulation. Therefore, there are both long-term systematic solutions and short-term measures available. Biostimulants are relatively pragmatic and effective solutions that allow farmers to witness their effects, making it relatively easy to translate the control mechanism into substances and products, enabling them to develop rapidly.
In order to keep pace with this global development trend, Nanjing Shineking, through utilizing its advantages in raw material research, development and production, has optimized its product formulas and developed various core substances for biostimulants, such as polyglutamic acid, chitosan oligosaccharide, structural polysaccharide, cell enzymatic solution and PAPS. Based on the different roles of biostimulants in plant growth, plant disease prevention, soil improvement and other aspects, the company uses the MCBT technology to successfully develop new nutritional combination biostimulant products, which can systematically meet the comprehensive needs for plant nutrition and protection, quality and efficiency improvement, and stress resistance and growth promotion in agricultural production.
Shineking Biotech's multi combination biostimulant technical (MCBT)
Although products have been used to stimulate plant growth and increase yields for a long time, the term ″biostimulant″ has only been in recent use, with the EU only accepting the term in July 2022. The best-known feature of biostimulants is their effects on crops, but their mode of action on plants was not clearly defined. However, this situation has been changing, due to the major research work carried out in this field over the past decade.
Many raw materials of biostimulants are naturally derived, which is one of the main challenges facing their formulation. It is not easy to ensure the consistency of all batches of formulations, the stability of active ingredient content and the consistency of efficacy. Algal fertilizers, for example, are frequently mentioned, but their raw materials are usually different. Firstly, the natural algae growing in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean is globally recognized as the best raw material for making algal fertilizers, but algal fertilizer producers use algae of different origins and different types as raw materials, so the final products will be different in terms of function, even for different batches of the same product from one producer. Secondly, algal fertilizers work primarily due to the complex compounds contained in algae, such as organic acids, betaine, amino acids, mannitol, oligosaccharides, alginic acid, fucose and trace elements. Considering that the contents of these substances in algae itself are relatively low, ensuring the proportions and contents of nutrients is also quite difficult.
In response to the above challenges facing biostimulants, Nanjing Shineking utilizes the experiences and data accumulated by its core technical team in strain cultivation, biofermentation engineering development and batch production, and developed a biostimulant solution that can be constantly produced at an industrial level. This technology can be used for the stable production of polyglutamic acid, chitosan oligosaccharide, cell enzymatic solution and other products in batches. These biostimulant products have definite active ingredients, clear action mechanisms and stable and mature production processes, and are good examples of the production of traditional biostimulant products using natural materials as raw materials.
Currently, polyglutamic acid is mostly added to urea, compound fertilizer and water soluble fertilizer products. This practice is accepted by major fertilizer producers in China. Polyglutamic acid is an efficient and low-cost biostimulant enhancer, for which specialized standards have been established, such as ″Compound Fertilizer with Polyglutamic Acid″ (Standard No. T/CPFIA 0006-2022), an industry standard, and ″Diammonium Phosphate with Polyglutamic Acid″ (Standard No. T/CPFIA 0007-2022), a group standard. The adoption of these standards highlight the advanced expertise in polyglutamic acid in terms of mass production, quality evaluation and control and functional description.
Leading position in polyglutamic acid R&D and production
Structural formula of γ-polyglutamic acid
γ-polyglutamic acid (γ-PGA) is a fermentation product of microorganisms, mainly the Bacillus species. It is an extracellular polypeptide and one of the polymeric amino acids currently discovered that can be obtained by microbial polymerization. Polyglutamic acid is used as an additive to ecological fertilizers made by microbial biofermentation, which increases efficiency from 30-35% to 40-50%, utilization rate by 8%, and crop yield by 10 to 25%, on average. For tuber crops, the yield can be increased by over 30%. Because of its unique structure and physical and chemical properties, it has good hydrophilicity, strong water absorption capacity, high degradability and bio-affinity, enabling it to be widely used in agriculture. Specifically, it is used as a:
Fertilizer enhancer: Polyglutamic acid has remarkable application effects in terms of water retention, fertilizer retention, yield increase, stress resistance and crop immunity improvement. After compounding, γ-PGA can enhance the slow-release effect of fertilizers, reduce fertilizer waste and activate nutrient elements, therefore, improving the effects of used fertilizers.
γ-PGA can effectively prevent the volatile loss of nitrogen fertilizer and the fixation of potassium fertilizer, stop the precipitation effect of phosphate, sulfate and metal elements, and improve the nutrient concentration of crop rhizosphere soil. Because of its good water retention performance, it can create a favorable water and fertilizer environment around the rhizosphere of crops, which can effectively promote the development of roots and improve the nutrient absorption capacity of crops in a rapid and efficient way.
Soil conditioner: As its molecules contain a large number of super polar groups, γ-PGA has super water absorption capacity and heavy-metal adsorption ability, and can help improve the formation of granular structure in soil, increase the content of bacterial organic matter and soil permeability, and significantly enhance the soil planting environment.
Fertilizer bripuette: With the properties of biodegradability, chelability and absorption enhancer, γ-PGA can absorb, chelate and store nutrients, and can store nutrients to temporarily prevent their use by plants and then release them slowly in line with the growth and development of crops, to meet nutrient needs in middle and late crop stages, avoid the premature aging of crops and fertilizer deficiency, and reduce the number and amount of aftermanuring, therefore, greatly reducing labor intensity.
The first advantage is the company’s efficient polyglutamic acid fermentation technology, which greatly reduces production costs. Nanjing Shineking has developed a three-stage fermentation process to efficiently produce 3.5% polyglutamic acid with a molecular weight of 3 million grams per mole. The second advantage is its fidelity modification technology, which retains the activity of polyglutamic acid and precisely formulates products with a molecular weight from 5kDa to 3000kDa, to ensure that the polyglutamic acid produced will have maximum efficacy. The third is its configurational biostimulation amplification technology, which improves D-glutamic acid content. The D-glutamic acid produced from unique polyglutamic acid monomers has a biostimulation amplification effect that is ten times higher than L-glutamic acid. The fourth is the company’ activity addition technology with polyglutamic acid. The company can add polyglutamic acid with high activity according with different pH levels, production processes and compounding fertilizer properties.
Because the biological preparation technology for polyglutamic acid is difficult and production costs are high, its global industrialization of polyglutamic acid has been slow and stayed in the laboratory stage for a long period of time in China. Therefore, Nanjing University of Technology and Shineking Biotech took the lead to master the industrialization of the product. Over ten years, Shineking Biotech has built the world’s largest polyglutamic acid R&D and production base, which has six 60-ton fermenters and four 40-ton fermenters, with the highest production capacity of polyglutamic acid in the world. Shineking Biotech has been invited to act as the leader of the industry standard drafting group, and has also developed a series of polyglutamic acid products, which are agriculture grade polyglutamic acid, cosmetic grade polyglutamic acid and food grade polylysine.
Shineking Biotech covers the entire ecological chain, from R&D technology, raw material production, to new product development. The combination of R&D technology and raw material production can reasonably control the cost of production, meaning that products are affordable to farmers of many field crops. Gulafeng® is good example. Last year, the sales volume of a single product exceeded RMB10 million, and the repurchase rate reached more than 80%.
Today, Shineking Biotech has not only built leading polyglutamic acid production lines in China, but it has also developed a series of polyglutamic acid products. Agricultural grade polyglutamic acid, cosmetic grade polyglutamic acid and food grade polylysine are all commercially available.
Other derivatives of the company
Shineking has rich reserves of microbial strains. Shineking has obtained special microorganisms in China that have high activity and high secretion rates with bio-protection characteristics by screening special functional microorganisms with low organic matter, high salinization and acidification. The advantages of Shineking’s microbial agents include being an agent with high activity, high salt resistance and high secretion; having a special multi-film enhanced spore structure; having a unique holding technology to solve industry problems; and having a unique compound nutrient germinator to help in the rapid colonization of spores. Based on these microbial agents and using MCBT technology, the company has developed various agrochemical products for different application scenarios, which sell well in the market.
The company has production cost advantage in chitosan oligosaccharide (COS), also known as amino oligosaccharin, which is made from marine crustaceans as its raw material. It is widely used in agriculture, food, daily chemicals and other uses. In agriculture, COS is known for its powerful resistance-inducing effect on plants. Shineking Biotech and the National Engineering Research Center for Biotechnology has been engaged in researching functional sugars for 16 years. Shineking Biotech has independently developed a directional COS enzymatic technology for the production of COS, which features high production efficiency and low energy consumption, and the COS produced is highly concentrated and effective.
Jin’antang, made from chitosan oligosaccharide prepared by biological enzyme catalysis technology, is the best-selling product of the company. It is an immune-resistance inducing biostimulant product with low molecular weight and full water solubility and is easy to absorb, to rapidly induce crops to produce systemic resistance, improve crop immunity and reduce the occurrence of diseases. It is also rich in amino acids, protein elicitors and various trace elements. Trace element fertilizers provide essential elements for crop growth. COS and amino acids do not only enhance the effect of trace element fertilizers, but they also promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in crops, inhibit harmful pathogens, optimize crop flora, stimulate crop growth, boost crop stress resistance, and improve crop yield and quality.
Cell enzymatic solution
The other one is cell enzymatic solution, a full-nutrient biostimulant in which cells are obtained through high-density fermentation and then cell walls are broken through biotechnology to obtain inclusions and stimulated metabolites, including cellular structural components, secondary metabolites, and physiologically active components. It has the functions of promoting and nourishing roots, stimulating crop growth and improving fertilizer utilization rate. Cell enzymatic solutions are a new generation of multi-faceted, highly efficient and multi-functional biostimulants offering root promotion and color change efficacy. All crops live because of new roots and die from root decay. A robust and developed root system is the basis for crop growth and high yield. White roots represent a healthy plant, yellow roots a marginally healthy one, black roots a sick one, and gray roots a dying one. Cell enzymatic solutions help improve root vitality, promote rapid root growth, and transform black roots to brown ones, brown roots to yellow ones, and yellow roots to white ones. By nourishing and protecting roots, cell enzymatic solutions rapidly encourage the revitalization of seedlings and reduce the yellowing and falling of leaves, leading to flourishing branches and leaves.
The last is the structural polysaccharide, which is made from yeast cell wall polysaccharide mainly composed of glucan and mannan. It has a protective effect on plant roots and remarkable effect on disease prevention, growth promotion and stress resistance.
To win more cooperation opportunities with excellence
Nanjing Shineking always uses a B2B model, supplying products directly to major distributors, traders and large plantations around the world. Nanjing Shineking is willing to establish B2B partnerships with interested companies to distribute biostimulants and combination formulations or use them with their products. These partners can be plant protection companies aiming to add more sustainable products to their portfolios, large fertilizer companies, or formulation manufacturers looking to add more TC ingredients to their product lines.
In the future, Shineking Biotech will use its superior scientific research and technical advantages to further upgrade its products in terms of fertilizer efficiency, plant nutrition and animal nutrition. Shineking Biotech is unrivaled in providing solutions for fertilizer efficiency improvement in terms of raw materials, whole-process plant nutrition, and major issues affecting some crops and products.
Make connection with Nanjing Shineking, please contact:
Tel: +86 025-57080367
Mobile: +86 13151588553
This article was initially published in AgroPages' 'Annual Review 2022' magazine.
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