Turning methane into a valuable crop input

15-11 | |
String Bio claims it can turn methane into food-growing biostimulants. - Photo: Van Assendelft
String Bio claims it can turn methane into food-growing biostimulants. - Photo: Van Assendelft

By capturing methane to turn it into usable crop nutrition products, String Bio hopes to help farmers grow more resilient crops and improve the quality of their produce.

Indian biotech company String Bio has announced a new technology that can turn the greenhouse gas methane into a valuable crop input. Using its technology, String Integrated Methane Platform (SIMP), String Bio claims it is the first company ever to make crop inputs from methane. It has developed and trialled two methane-derived crop nutrition products, suitable for both conventional and organic farming systems. According to String Bio, the trials show how the products can increase the yield of some crops by as much as 40 per cent.

Biostimulants

These products, or biostimulants, are called Impakt and CleanRise. Impakt is a blend of amino acids, both standalone and in short-chain forms known as peptides. According to String Bio, these peptides trigger an immune response in plants, known as Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR), allowing them them to defend themselves against pathogens like fungi, viruses, bacteria and nematodes.

40 per cent yield increase in potatoes and tomatoes

In String Bio’s trials, applications of Impakt improved crop yields by up to 40 per cent in potatoes and tomatoes. Where Impakt was used on flower crops, chrysanthemums saw a 30 per cent increase in blooms, while marigolds produced up to 50 per cent more flowerheads.

CleanRise is a microbial biostimulant, containing up to one billion microbes per millilitre. When applied to crops, the product stimulates important physiological processes within the plant, increasing production of critical growth hormones. Unlike conventional crop production products, the biostimulant also influences key genes within the plant, switching them ‘on’ or ‘off’ to allow the plant to reach more of its genetic yield potential, claims String Bio.

Less nitrogen fertiliser needed

According to the company, these microbes also reduce the crop’s requirement for external nitrogen fertiliser, by enhancing what’s known as ‘nutrient-use efficiency’ (NUE). This describes plants’ ability to access nutrients within the soil. Improved NUE reduces the need for ‘top-up’ nitrogen during the growing season.

String Bio says CleanRise has demonstrated yield increases in treated crops of up to 30 per cent in leafy greens such as spinach and coriander, 18 per cent in corn, and up to 30 per cent in soybeans. Trials of CleanRise in rice and sugarcane are ongoing.

String Bio plans to pursue a global strategy in the roll-out of its methane-derived biostimulants, however, India will be the initial focus for launch, followed by South-East Asia and Latin America.

Claver
Hugo Claver Web editor for Future Farming
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