Changing the game

Where does the idea to change the form of nitrogen in fertilizers come from?

Research does not automatically lead to inventions, and inventions do not automatically lead to products. Fundamental research on plants’ ability to use amino acids for their growth has reached great depth, all the way to the detailed understanding of molecular mechanisms involved. However, the idea that this knowledge could help did not occur until we faced a problem. The problem in many plant cultivation systems is that the rate of inorganic nitrogen leaching from pots and soil beds outstrips the rate of uptake. Once out of reach, the window for beneficial plant responses closes and a door to environmental risk is opened.

“Nutrition that is bound but at the same time is available for uptake: it may sound implausible but many experiments have shown that it works.”

We discovered that a number of amino acids are taken up much faster than others by the roots of plants. These amino acids – arginine and lysine – also have the peculiarity that they adhere to soil particles instead of remaining mobile in the soil solution like many other forms of nutrients. Nutrition that is bound but at the same time is available for uptake: it sound implausible but many experiments have shown that it works. And the result is that when we provide nitrogen in the form of arginine and lysine, it ends up in the right place – in the plant.

The journey to products then? We have developed variants of liquid plant nutrition with different combinations of arginine and lysine, variants used in forest plant nurseries and on golf courses. We have also developed a new product range based on the same concept, but where our plant nutrition is given in the form of controlled-release granules. Our products are suitable for many kinds of plants and plantations. Today we work with forest nurseries and golf courses across Sweden and we test our unique products as part of numerous international collaborations.