A company from Finland has developed a fertilizer made from ordinary, everyday alkaline batteries.
The new fertilizer product, marketed under the brand ZM-Grow, promises to be a new alternative solution to crop farmers as well as adding to the circular economy. It is also labelled, in accordance with EU regulations, as an organic fertilizer.
The liquid fertilizer product provides manganese, zinc, potassium and sulphur, with raw materials extracted from crushed alkali pulp from old alkaline batteries. The Finnish manufacturers, called Tracegrow, have sourced their fertilizer feedstock by a ‘special process’, which the company claims is the only way to gain the levels of purity needed.
Of particular importance to growers will be the high-standard of product as confirmed by the society. Which, as the press release notes, “The quality of the product is monitored by the Finnish food authority (Ruokavirasto) and the fertilizer legislation sets very strict limit values for ZM-GROW products.” Adding that, “The biggest challenge has been to develop a purification process where the concentrations of dissolved harmful metals reach sufficiently low levels in the liquid product.”
“The result is a highly flexible liquid fertiliser containing key nutrients for a wide variety of crops,” explains David Harrod, the owner of Badger Consultants who are the fertilizer’s UK distributors.
The product could well find a market niche, not only as a product made from recycled materials, but also through its zinc and manganese content that provides a solution for many common soil nutrition problems. As the agricultural journal Agriland, reports, “… zinc deficiency is observed in 10% to 15% of field crops in the UK – often on sandy soils with both a high pH and phosphate status – while manganese is the most common micronutrient deficiency.”
The product is sold in concentrate form and can be applied between February and June, where it is recommended for use on cereals (especially barley), as well as sugar beet and peas, as these crops are all prone to deficiencies of these agrichemicals. Although the company recommends, “testing soils or crop leaves before deciding on application timing and concentration levels.”
The novel fertilizer has also been successfully proven in field experiments to compare its performance against leading brands in its class. As the Badger Crop Nutrition website states “During 2018 a number of detailed field tests were performed for ZM-Grow in the USA. The tests were performed by professional independent researches and research institutes and thus provide credible information on the performance of ZM-Grow.” The fertilizer was tested on wheat, avocado, grass, maize, cotton, field tomatoes, and citrus fruit, with increased intake of manganese and zinc found in all crop types.
Meanwhile, “Trials in Finland in 2017 found a 350kg/ha increase in wheat yield, and 900kg/ha in barley, from a single application of the fertiliser.”
Additionally, the product won the Finnish Chemical Society’s award for, “innovative business idea for the circular economy”.