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Innovative Israeli Agtech Company Develops Natural Alternative to Toxic Fertilizer

After a successful trial run on corn crops in Brazil, Israeli Agtech company Grace Breeding is touting NFT Bio-Fertilizer as a win-win-win for farmers, consumers, and the planet. Developers believe NFT will cut farmers’ costs, save water, cut CO2 emissions, and reduce the need for synthetic nitrogen (which pollutes groundwater).

Plants need nitrogen to grow. If there is insufficient nitrogen in the soil, the plant’s growth will be stunted, leaves will be yellow, and flowers and fruit may be smaller.

According to Assaf Dotan, CEO of Grace Breeding, most food crop production

depends on the administration of synthetic nitrogen—over half of which runs off into the waterways near the fields. This leads to problems for the people and livestock that drink the water.

The production of synthetic nitrogen is also costly for the environment. Dotan said that 1.84 metric tons of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere for each metric ton of fertilizer (urea) produced (and more pollution than that from factories in China and India).

NFT is a concept based on nature. Plants (especially legumes such as peas and beans) naturally team up with fungi and bacteria to transform nitrogen into the atmosphere into a form the plants can use.

Wheat and corn—cereal staple crops in many nations—need a lot of nitrogen, but it isn’t the best at converting it from the air. Grace Breeding has developed a “bioactivator” (a patented formula of plant materials with anti-inflammatory properties) that is given to the cereal seedlings and helps them access nitrogen like legumes do.

At this point with the technology, the Israeli Agtech company is taking a hybrid approach to fertilizing crops—applying NFT and some synthetic fertilizer, but only a fraction (one-eighth) of current applications. And in Brazil, the corn seedlings with NFT showed a more efficient use of nitrogen and an equal or better growth than crops grown with only urea.

Crop yields are also up. For example, a trial test administering NFT on wheat crops in Israel showed an 18 percent increase in harvest.

Dotan said that because NFT saves carbon dioxide emissions not once but twice (reducing factory pollution and increasing the ability of plants to photosynthesize), they will apply for the technology to be certified for issuing carbon credits, which are traded by businesses and individuals to offset global warming gas emissions. If they can’t cut their own emissions, they can invest in technologies that do.

“You are fixing more carbon and pushing it into the soil,” Dotan said. “Farmers won’t pay for a product just because it’s green. It must provide additional yield and quality and save on costs.”

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Shalom from Israel! I am Ron Cantor and this is my blog. I serve as the President of Shelanu TV.

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