Discovery Farm project allows agri-tech company to test its climate-friendly, non-polluting fertilizers that help regenerate the land
This summer, Discovery Farm Langham provided the Vancouver- based company, Lucent BioSciences (Lucent Bio), an opportunity to test its flagship technology, Soileos®, in challenging soils and to showcase its performance to local farmers, agronomists and potential partners.
SUSTAINABLE CROP NUTRITION
Soileos is a sustainable, non-polluting, micronutrient fertilizer. It is created by upcycling low value co-products generated during grain processing at AGT Food and Ingredients’ facilities. Its unique composition binds target micronutrients to cellulose fibers derived from pea, lentil and oat hulls which imparts the novel nutrient delivery mechanism.
Lucent Bio’s Senior Research Agronomist, Laura Jefferies, explains the AgTech company uses a patented process to bind the target micronutrients to the carbon-rich cellulose fibers, which acts as a food source for the soil microbiome.
“As the natural soil bacteria and the fungi start to feed on Soileos, they release the micronutrients in a bio-available form for plant uptake,” says Jefferies. “So, we’re seeing a better nutrient profile in the crop, leading to healthier plants and higher yields. What makes Soileos different is that it’s also contributing to healthy soils for sustainable agriculture.”
To date, Lucent Bio has rolled out zinc, iron and manganese products and they are working on other formulations. All of the Soileos products also contain potassium and sulfur.
DISCOVERY FARM PROJECT
This summer, Lucent Bio conducted a five-acre project at Discovery Farm Langham to see if its Soileos products could increase nutrient uptake and yields of durum wheat. They designed the trial for a one- season investigation, testing four different Soileos products – Soileos Zinc, Soileos Manganese and two Soileos Cereal Blends – and comparing them to competitor products as well as a no-micronutrients control.
“We know that some farmers aren’t actively using micronutrients in their nutrient management plans right now so we wanted to have that comparison,” said Jefferies.
A heavy incidence of Kochia on the site impacted how the crop
grew over the season and the final yield results. Despite that, Lucent Bio found conducting the study at the Discovery Farm was a good opportunity to test Soileos on challenging acres; the area also struggles with high salinity.
Comparing the Discovery Farm trial site with some of Lucent Bio’s other trial sites throughout Saskatchewan and into Alberta and Manitoba, provided a wide range of soil types and conditions allowing them to really test the product.
“In terms of the entire year, Soileos performed well across the multiple trial locations,” says Jefferies, adding that further interpretation of the collected data is in progress.
Recognizing that it is important to farmers to have the data behind a product, Lucent Bio will share all of its trial data on its website (soileos. com/) when it is available.
“It’s one thing to make all of these claims, but farmers want to see the data,” says Jefferies. “It is a large investment for them to make changes in their production system so they want to minimize the risk and understand the product.”
Jefferies says the biggest win from conducting the trial at the Discovery Farm was the engagement opportunity it provided, particularly their participation in the VIP experience conducted onsite. This allowed them to showcase Soileos’ performance to local farmers, agronomists and potential partners, letting them experience the results in the field.
Lucent Bio was also able to answer questions, gain feedback on the product concept and see if Soileos would be a good fit for farmers’ operations.
“Because we’re trying to make solutions for farmers that are simple and easy to use, that provide benefits to their soils and crops, and that make financial sense, we really wanted to gain direct feedback from the farmers, and what better way than when standing in front of the trial directly discussing the product,” says Jefferies.
Being part of Discovery Farm Langham also provided them with the opportunity to participate in Farm Forum Event in the Field that focused on working with local agronomists. This helped Lucent Bio understand some of the technical challenges agronomists see across farms and if Soileos could be a solution for them.
Lucent Bio believes how Soileos works is what makes it truly unique. For the farmers it all comes down to more resilient, higher yielding crops and healthier soils.
“We’re trying to solve micronutrient deficiencies in a proactive and sustainable way,” says Jefferies. “We have the goal of giving farmers the opportunity for generating high-yielding crops, but also the added benefit of protecting their soil for productive systems for generations to come.”
To that end, Lucent Bio operates with a circular business economy model by upcycling low-value co-products into high-value crop nutrition products that return organic matter to the soil.
“We focus on clean manufacturing,” says Jefferies. “We want to make it an easy choice for growers to use sustainable products that support the production of healthy, high-yielding crops.”