Billions into fertilizer
Pivot Bio now has a valuation of almost $2 billion after raising $430 million.
For the past decade Pivot Bio has been developing proprietary microbial technology which started by mapping trillions of soil microbe interaction and identifying those which are able to fix/convert nitrogen from the air into the soil. They now have microbial technology which can be seeded into the soil that supplies the daily nitrogen requirements of cereal crops, e.g. corn, wheat, rice.
Normally nitrogen is supplied to crops in the form of anhydrous ammonia. This is primarily created in factory’s using the Haber-Bosch process developed by Germany during world war I. It is very green house gas intensive.
Microbes living in symbiosis with plants to supply the nitrogen they need is based on already existing natural system and is a massive step towards reducing greenhouse gases and more sustainable agriculture.
BHP will have spent a total of $12.5 billion to start production of Potassium Chloride/Potash fertilizer in 2027. They have currently spent $5 billion on their mine and will now be spending another $7.5 billion. K+Cl-/Potassium Chloride is a fertilizer which was part of the industrial revolution of agriculture. It involves taking a salt applying it to the soil to provide the Potassium plants need. The chloride is secondary.
As per Carol Viana in her article "Potassium Chloride mines: climate wold in sheep’s clothing"
-high concentrations of chloride negatively affect plant development due to toxicity. -chloride has a biocidal effect on soil.... as a result this causes loss of soil biodiversity. -soil biodiversity is responsible for several ecosystem sercices, including soil carbon sequestration and the mitigation of greenhouse gases in agriculture.
It is excellent that one of the most greenhouse gas intensive fertilizer can be replaced, for some crops, with soil microbes.
It is problematic that the current most commonly used fertilizer to supply potassium comes with chloride and is biocidal to soil microbes.
Regardless as the world is experiencing the effects of climate change the prices of fertilizers are increasing. Governments, producers, and consumers are increasingly reviewing the impact, both positive and negative, that fertilizers, pesticides, and agriculture generally have on the environment.
As starkly pointed out by the United Nations study on soil, properly utilizing soil can be a major boon to carbon sequestration and key to that proper utilization is healthy diverse ecosystems in the soil.
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August 20, 2021 at 08:21AM