Norwegian ag tech company N2 Applied is exploring opportunities to scale-up its green fertilizer technology into other farming sectors, such as pork and seafood.
The technology uses plasma treatment to eliminate ammonia and greenhouse gases like methane from slurry while doubling the amount of nitrogen; the processed slurry is then transformed into nitrogen-enriched fertilizer. The plasma treatment takes place in a so-called N2 Unit, a piece of hardware that can be installed on-farm. Independently-verified trial data has revealed some significant benefits of the N2 Applied fertilizer versus chemical ammonium nitrate alternatives, including 27% higher levels of nitrogen utilization by crops when the plasma-treated material was used.
“We have developed an innovative solution that uses only air and electricity to locally produce environment-friendly fertilizer - and at the same time, stop methane and ammonia emissions from livestock slurry,” Nick Humphries, chief agronomist and UK director of N2 Applied told DairyReporter in August 2022.
New funding will make tech ‘more economically viable’
Having attracted the attention of dairy cooperatives, governments and researchers in recent years, the technology is now set to be scaled up commercially by fertilizer processing manufacturer GEA. Production will commence this summer at GEA’s German factory. N2 Applied has also recently received a cash injection amounting to €10m/US$10.8m in investment funding – €5m by the European Innovation Council and €5m by shareholders, which include Blue River Invest, Holta Invest, NorgesGruppen and Ramussengruppen. To date, the ag tech firm has raised €34m/US$36.8m in equity funding, we were told.
“The most recent round of funding will enable us to support our new partnership with GEA to whom we have licensed our technology," a company spokesperson told us. "GEA will leverage their production capacity to scale our technology within the beef and dairy industry, allow for volume production, further refine the Unit's performance and make it more economically viable to a larger market."
Manufacturing will commence this summer and units will be available for installation before the end of the year, DairyReporter understands. The initial markets are the UK, Scandinavia and Western Europe, followed by the US and Canada. "We are also offering 'one time projects' in other geographies for assessment and research purposes,” added the company representative.
Pork, seafood can be next to benefit
While refining the technology for use within dairy and beef farming is the company’s main objective in the short term, N2 Applied is also assessing the potential to offer its plasma-treatment solution to other sectors within agriculture, such as aquaculture, where sludge from fish farming must be treated before being discharged back into the environment. An N2 Applied spokesperson told us that the firm is ‘exploring broader areas of food production’, ‘given the multiple applications for different types of fertilizer production’.
“Our technology is able to transform many types of organic materials into sustainable fertilizers,” they said. “Developing this capacity is our medium- and long-term focus. This includes utilising vast volumes of slurries from biogas plants, pork or aquaculture. We will be working with partners to optimize these concepts.”
As with its approach for dairy and beef, here too the company would initially focus on Europe first before it turns its sight to the US market.
But for now, fleshing out commercial opportunities in dairy and beef farming and scaling-up production remains the main focus for the Norwegian firm. “The GEA agreement is very much a close co-operation but also a very new one, and we are continuing to work to get the product into the market and to continue to increase the performance of the technology,” N2 Applied's spokesperson said. “It is too early to say how we will manage demand across multiple sectors as it grows, but we are confident that our partnership with GEA is strong, and will enable both parties to benefit as the technology begins to take hold on farms.”