Consumer enthusiasm for organic products is growing, and the trend is intensifying year after year. Consumers are increasingly interested in bio products and consume them in order to preserve their health (food produced without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, for example), for environmental reasons, and to promote the local economy. In addition, the bio agricultural sector promotes recycling, the use of renewable resources, energy savings and contributes to optimizing soil quality and fertility.
In Quebec, the bio sector represents some 10,000 jobs in all sectors combined.
More than 10,500 products are certified biological and 2,411 agricultural businesses are certified biological. In this blog, we are particularly interested in biologic agriculture and organic nitrogen.
What is a bio agricultural product?
Organic agricultural production must meet certain criteria and practices and in particular must exclude in its process any recourse to :
– synthetic chemical fertilizers
In its processing, the agricultural product must not be irradiated or contain preservatives and other chemical additives (e.g. flavour enhancers).
Organic farming is therefore an eco-responsible practice in agricultural production. One of the important aspects of this type of agriculture is the limitation of greenhouse gases. In Quebec, emissions from agriculture accounted for nearly 8% of total GHG emissions in 2010, or 6.6 Mt CO2 eq. (MDDEFP, 2013). A significant portion of these emissions is attributable to the consumption of nitrogen fertilizers. It should be noted that the GHGs generated during the manufacture of these chemical fertilizers are not taken into account in this calculation. Moreover, the price of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers is constantly rising, thus occupying an important financial item in farmers’ budgets. Beyond the price evolution, there is an economic dependency on large nitrogen (urea) producers, including China.
For obvious reasons related to the promotion of local agriculture based on good
Eco-responsible practices, economic self-sufficiency, and to meet the growing need of consumers’ expectations in terms of organic products, the use of locally produced organic fertilizers seems to be an interesting avenue to follow.
Organic agriculture is based on a production system whose environmental impact is limited as much as possible by practices adapted to the soil, such as the four R’s rule: applying the right source of nutrients in the right dose, at the right time, and in the right place, and good soil fertility management with the use of organic fertilizers.
What are bio fertilizers ?
They come from a variety of sources. They include, for example:
– Fresh manure and slurry
– Dried manure and compost
– Animal by-products (crustaceans, bones, feathers, etc.)
– Vegetable by-products such as cake
– Extracted minerals, unprocessed
These organic fertilizers, once packaged, have different concentrations depending on the case. They are applied as a complex (Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus), or individually (a single fertilizing element).
Bio Nitrogen: Solugen’s contribution
Nitrogen from natural sources is the most difficult fertilizer element to find. In addition, there is no synthetic equivalent. Finally, natural, unprocessed fertilizers also include phosphorus and other nutrients, and their application is not always in line with soil needs, which can lead to imbalances in the available nutrients or even over-fertilization. Nitrogen occurs naturally in two states:
– in the free state, as N2, where it constitutes 78% of the air we breathe,
– in the combined state, in mineral form – ammonia, nitrite, nitrate – or in organic form.
Solugen: a source of biological nitrogen
In the manure treatment process Solugen’s technology extracts from the initial liquid fraction, pure water and two fertilizer solutions: a potassium concentrate and ammoniacal nitrogen. In liquid form, the formula is NH4OH. The NH4+ ion combines with the OH- of the water to form NH4OH.
The ammoniacal nitrogen produced by Solugen from manure represents 1.5% of the initial manure volume. This is an important source of organic fertilizer which, once commercialized, contributes to the development of the local economy, especially organic farming, while actively participating in the creation of a circular economy in a context of preservation of the environment.
In a next blog post we shall come back to detail the fertilizing properties of our organic nitrogen