N2 Applied has entered a strategic partnership with GEA, a fertilizer processing equipment manufacturer, to accelerate and scale the production and adoption of N2 Unit, a sustainable manure processing system that has already attracted attention from the likes of Arla and Scotland’s Rural College.
Manufacturing will commence during 2023 at GEA’s German factory, with the system initially offered in Northern Europe, Scandinavia and the US, then rolled out ‘globally’ through GEA’s distribution network.
While the market demand for N2 Unit is ‘unclear’ as yet, with the volatile prices of chemical fertilizer and the drive towards the adoption of natural fertilizer in agriculture, the system is likely to appeal to dairies who could use it to both reduce emissions and produce sustainable fertilizer on-farm.
On cost, the companies say it’s ‘too early’ to tell how volume and scale would affect their pricing strategy. What’s clear however is that market prices for nitrogen fertilizer are up 149% in September 2022 according to the European Commission’s latest communication on fertilizer, making the material’s affordability a challenge for many farmers today.
Less emissions, more nitrogen
Earlier this year, N2 Applied, the Norway-based ag tech company that created the technology, announced results from trials at international testing sites that showed its sustainably-produced dairy slurry material outperformed the yield characteristics of ammonium nitrate-based fertilizers.
In one assessment by Oxford Agriculture Trials in Goole, UK, wheat crop utilized the equivalent of 85% of the crop-available nitrogen applied to the fields via N2 Applied’s system, compared to 58% for the chemical fertilizer.
Meanwhile, methane and ammonia were practically eliminated from the sustainably-produced material, which is said to ‘lock in’ the two gasses to the liquid waste material during a process called plasma conversion. The reaction also pulls nitrogen from the air into the liquid substrate, creating fertilizer that’s rich in nitrogen.
Besides its sustainability benefits, the technology could completely remove farmers’ dependence on external fertilizer supply since the technology produces the material on-farm.