“The fertilizer industry is at a turning point”
The crisis in the price and availability of agricultural fertilizers is having a major impact on world agriculture, and has even raised fears of food insecurity. The war in Ukraine initiated by Russia – the world's largest exporter of nitrogenous fertilizers, the second largest in potassium and the third largest in phosphate fertilizers, according to FAO data – is being decisive at the moment, although it should not be forgotten that the escalation of prices began more than a year ago with the rise in gas prices, which has meant that, for example, the price of urea has multiplied by two and a half in the last 12 months.
This important fissure in obtaining an essential resource for agriculture raises not only the convenience of depending on a concentrated market, but also that of finding effective, local and, above all, available raw materials, something that is especially relevant at this time in regions such as Latin America facing the next agricultural campaigns; and algae meet all the requirements to become interesting alternatives to mineral fertilizers.
“Our purpose at Patagonia Biotecnologia is to put at the service of global sustainable agriculture the power of seaweed from the Patagonian ocean, which we enhance thanks to biotechnology. Our Fertum solution has been developed by Marcelo Brintrup Meeder, who has worked with algae for more than 30 years, continuing the research work carried out by a true visionary, Dr. Gotardo Schenckel Stiefel from the University of Concepción, Chile”, he explains. Rebecca Galvez.
“There is no resource that is infinite, but the potential of algae practically is, always depending on how they are managed. In addition, it is a raw material that helps with all the problems that afflict us today in relation to climate change, because it has a tremendous power to fix carbon”, emphasizes Rebeca. “At Patagonia Biotecnologia we have our own maritime concessions where we are working with our own crops and through alliances with professional fishermen whom we train so that the algae are harvested in a sustainable way and the ecosystem is not damaged. We work specifically with brown algae macrocystis".
“These algae are more abundant than others used by the competition and can increase their weight by 3.500 times in less than 90 days. Our products stand out because they are made with fresh algae, not washed up on the beaches, with a patented process in Chile, the United States and Canada, and we have a palette of 15 products certified for organic agriculture. It is important to note that we are an Endeavor company ready to scale: today we sell one million liters of product, but we have the infrastructure to grow to 20 million liters per year."
Patagonian marine nutrients: higher production and less losses
The algae that make up the base of Patagonia Biotecnologia's fertilizer solutions are collected in the coastal region from Valdivia to the island of Chiloé, where they grow fed by the nutritious Humboldt current.
“The patented process allows the macro and micronutrients of the algae to be released, as well as the precursors of phytohormones, to make them available to plants; In this aspect, we offer farmers a dual technology, since our products have both auxin and cytokinin precursors. These components strengthen the crops and allow them to better withstand water and thermal stress, and promote root growth, so that the plants have a greater capacity to capture the nutrients present in the soil.”
“Our products also contain silicon, an element that Marcelo Brintrup has been working with for more than 15 years and is considered a fourth-generation fertilizer. Different tests carried out have shown that the use of our solutions has achieved increases of 15% in potato crops, up to 100% in blueberries with our strengthening and vigor program, and even in California, where the blight Fusarium is causing 60% losses in the celery crop, Fertum enriched with silicon managed to reduce losses by 15% without being a fungicide; only with the strengthening that it brings to the crop”, shares Rebeca Gálvez. "Initially, our products were offered as a complement to basal fertilization programs, but the different trials carried out with prestigious international companies have shown that they are just as effective when used individually and have even managed to increase yields."
"Furthermore, last week was very important for us, we managed to close an alliance with Dr. Lorena Barra, developer of a patented microbial consortium with which we are going to boost our R&D."
At the service of fruit growing
“We have managed to position ourselves in Chile from north to south with leading clients in table grapes, walnut trees, citrus trees, avocado trees, blueberries, cherry trees and hazelnut trees. In fact, we are the leaders in algae extracts in the country; also in Peru, where we are positioned in blueberries and table grapes and we are beginning to carry out trials in bananas and sugar cane, and in the United States. There we are establishing ourselves in California, where we are strongly replacing other well-known algae extracts. Last year we also managed to penetrate the Ecuadorian market, where bananas are one of the targets, and we have just closed our first contract with China”.
"In addition, in recent months, since the beginning of the war, we have received the interest of large companies in search of strategic alliances with us from countries like Italy and Spain," shares Rebeca Gálvez. "The fertilizer industry is at a turning point, offering the environment and the planet a new opportunity, and it is time to step forward."