Process

TANS testing cyanobacteria biofertilizer for developing countries

September 26, 2013
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Solomon Yigrem, Thin Air field manager in Ethiopia, checks on the cyanobacterial biofertilizer production system. Mixing soil with original cultures and seeding them in shallow ponds produce the blue-green algae biofertilizer.

Solomon Yigrem, Thin Air field manager in Ethiopia, checks on the cyanobacterial biofertilizer production system. Mixing soil with original cultures and seeding them in shallow ponds produce the blue-green algae biofertilizer. Photo by: Endalkachew Wolde-meskel/Thin Air Nitrogen Solutions

Eliza Villarino writes in devex.com about Jessica Gwyn Davis, a professor of soil and crop sciences at the Colorado State University, who co-founded Thin Air Nitrogen Solutions (TANS) in 2008 to develop cyanobacteria-based fertilizer as an economic alternative for the developing world.

TANS is currently testing their cyanobacteria cultivation technology in Ethiopia, using soil containing original cultures and seeding them in shallow ponds. Since the Ethiopian government ended its fertilizer subsidy program in the late 1990s, fertilizer use has declined, and even the less expensive urea fertilizer has become too expensive for many smallholder farmers, the vast majority of whom survive on less than $2 daily. Without returning nutrients to the soil after long periods of farming, soil fertility declines, leading to lower crop yields and lower income for farmers with an increase in malnutrition.

According to Davis, when asked how much they were willing to pay for cyanobacteria-based fertilizer of the same weight as urea fertilizer, farmers quoted 200 Ethiopian birrs and said they were willing to pay more per kilogram of nitrogen of the biofertilizer “because they recognize the value of the organic matter in reversing soil degradation and improving soil fertility.”

Based on tests on maize, kale, pepper, lettuce and tomato, TANS found that yields from those receiving cyanobacterial biofertilizer are at par or exceeded outcomes from urea application and double those with zero fertilizer use. There was also an increase in micronutrient concentrations found in plants’ edible portions, such as zinc (more than double), iron (50 percent increase), and beta-carotene (at least twice the amount), as compared to urea-applied and control crops.

Thin Air Nitrogen Solutions hopes to begin producing and testing cyanobacterial biofertilizer in southern Ethiopia in 2014, engaging women smallholder farmers as producers so that they can enhance their incomes and status in the communities. It will also measure impacts on income, food security and gender equity.

Currently, TANS is working off a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Development Innovation Ventures to test the technology, and the group hopes to win another grant from DIV to build on its trials. It has also received backing from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Association.

Davis said she and her colleagues are interested in collaborating with private companies, nonprofits and government agencies “with goals similar to ours.”

Read More

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2013 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Four years after the first optimistic calculations, the experimental cultivation of algae at Wageningen University in the Netherlands appears to be meeting expectations. ...
The Guardian reports that Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.), Canada-based Solarvest has created an inventive system utilizing a specific algal strain to grow and produce EPA ...
Gilbert, AZ-based Heliae has announced a partnership with Sincere Corporation, a Japanese waste management and recycling company, to form a joint venture and develop a co...
Starting in the early 70s, agencies in the former USSR invested more than 20,000 person-years of research and development to produce Bio-Algae Concentrates (BAC) that hel...
Steven Mufson reports for the Washington Post that Algenol Biofuels estimates hackers have attempted to break into its computers 39 million times in four months this year...
Biofuels derived from the oils produced by algae may offer a low-cost sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. To achieve this goal, optimization of cost effective strate...
In an effort to propel the algae industry forward, the Algae Testbed Public Private Partnership (ATP3) offers a series of hands-on specialized workshops suited for partic...
Channelnewsasia.com reports on three young Spaniards who harvest seaweed, a culinary delicacy, as a way for them to stay out of Spain’s troubled financial waters. 35-year...
The EPA has released the Annual Use of Pesticides in the U.S. Report. We now know that American farmers apply roughly a billion pounds of toxic chemicals intentionally in...
Using a combination of satellite imagery and laboratory experiments, researchers have evidence showing that viruses infecting those algae are driving the life-and-death d...
Oregon State University researchers are combining diatoms, a type of single-celled photosynthetic algae, with nanoparticles to create a sensor capable of detecting minisc...
Portuguese cement facility, Secil, and microalgae biotechnology company, A4F, also based in Portugal, have formed AlgaFarm, a joint venture to develop the use of cement f...
Researchers at the Paul Scherer Institute (PSI) in Wädenswil, Switzerland, have succeeded in producing energy-rich gas from microalgae, and in doing so have demonstrated ...
Biplab Das reports in NatureAsia.com that a research team has found aqueous extracts of the marine brown algae Lobophoro variegate that can inhibit the replication of hum...
Hortidaily.com reports that in Nevele, Belgium, Tomalgae is growing algae in a former tomato greenhouse. Their company was formed when tomato cultivation entrepreneurs Pi...
William Tucker writes in fullfreedom.org about the lure the oceans have for advocates of biofuel, particularly in Scandinavia. “Two-thirds of the globe is covered with wa...
In October 2014 an unusual AlgaePARC research paper entitled Design and construction of the microalgal pilot facility AlgaePARC was published in the Journal of Algal Rese...
Tess Riley writes in TheGuardian.com about how spirulina may be able to combat malnutrition in developing countries. Spirulina is one of the oldest life forms on Earth, c...