Aquagrain Creates the World’s First Sustainable Crop Feed from Animal Waste

A British company claims to have created the first product that can repurpose the world’s meat, poultry, dairy, and fish waste as a soil improver.

Aquagrain is a unique, organic based, biodegradable hydrogel made from animal waste which allows crops to be grown in sandy soil and arid lands with a fraction of the water usually required. It could become a game-changer in creating healthier soil.

Absorbing up to 30 times its mass in water or liquid fertilizer, it enables agricultural and horticultural crops as well as landscaping and ornamental plants to flourish. Aquagrain claims that it supplies crops with valuable nutrients, cutting the requirement for inorganic fertilizers, while significantly stimulating microbial activity in the soil.

But it is also a valuable solution to the massive greenhouse gas emissions from animal waste which is usually burned, creating CO₂, or sent to landfill, creating methane. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in 2019, global food systems accounted for 17 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent to 31% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions. That includes emissions related to farming and land use, producing crops and livestock, household food consumption and waste, and energy used in farm and food processing and transportation. Aquagrain believes that it could not only reduce this by transforming animal waste into a product that can feed plants, but also restore soil health.

Aquagrain CEO Paul Smith and Silal’s Senior Officer Trials, Dr. Shoet Khot discussing onion trials. Photo by Aquagrain

As a simple product that requires no specialist equipment, farm machinery or infrastructure, its application could be vast. And its cost from as little as £250 per hectare could ensure a global appeal. The granules or jellies, which the company claims could increase crop yield by as much as 3 times, can be spread on fields by standard farm machinery or applied by hand, and could transform unproductive poor soils into crop-producing soils.

It could even help reverse desertification. Aquagrain tests have shown that it can cut sand movement by 99% in winds up to 30 kph, protecting crops from wind blow at the critical early stage of development. Its sandy crust also reduces the evaporation of soil moisture.

While animals on the land have become one of the most hotly contested issues in arguments about climate change, regenerative farming, which harnesses the power of their natural fertilizing capacity, is gathering clout. Aquagrain says that its innovative technology supports the growth of this natural form of farming while cutting emissions from the disposal of their waste. By improving crop yields, this low impact technology with no directly comparable products could prove to have a massive influence in reducing hunger.

The company now wants to deploy its product globally. As Aquagrain is made from meat and dairy industry waste streams which, in most countries, have strict biosecurity and food safety regulations, the transportation has regulatory hurdles. Aquagrain says that by building production facilities at the source of the organic waste streams within each regulatory region, it would avoid these regulations, reduce emissions for transporting materials and invite fewer cultural objections to the source of Aquagrain’s organic ingredients.

Learn more about Aquagrain.


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