Waste becomes wanted and byproducts become primary products with the recent opening of the first Anuvia Plant Nutrients Corporation fertilizer production facility near Zellwood, Fla.
The unique Anuvia process is designed to recycle materials from a variety of organic waste sources into an enhanced efficiency plant nutrient product line. Anuvia products set a new and higher standard for organic material-based plant nutrients.
“Our patented process creates homogenous, dry granular, multinutrient, high-value fertilizers that are more slowly released into the soil,” says Jeff Burnham Ph.D., Anuvia founder and senior vice president, Research and Regulatory Affairs. “The slow release allows more uniform uptake by the plant, resulting in less loss by volatilization and leaching. Best of all, our products and the process are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. We use organic materials from different waste streams to create products that are environmentally sound; helping people, plants and the planet thrive.”
The Anuvia process creates a pound of high-value fertilizer for each pound of organic material used. The process is designed to make use of a wide variety of organic materials, including food waste, animal waste and industrial and municipal organic waste streams. Traditionally, these organic materials are considered of low or limited value, and many end up in landfills or are land-applied. The Anuvia process optimizes the intrinsic value of these organic materials, turning them into valuable products for both the turf and agricultural industry.
Recycling organic materials back into the land is a model for the much sought-after circular economy, in which resources are continually cycled — much like what happens in nature. “Prior to Anuvia, use of organic materials for fertilizer was limited by their low nutrient value,” says Burnham. “Our process creates a high-nutrient content product, and thus, economic value to the end product.”
The novel Anuvia process is a closed-loop system that protects air and water quality while eliminating off-site odors. Scrubbers and filters capture and recycle odor-causing particulates and other volatiles. Water removed during granulation and drying, and excess heat produced by chemical reactions, are redirected and used in other steps within the process. Methane gas produced at one stage is used as fuel in another. Every step is designed to enhance the efficiency and economics of the process while reducing the environmental load.
“Our manufacturing process is a proprietary, multistep, organic resource processing system,” explains Burnham. “It puts the organic material through a reaction process that creates an Organic MaTRX; a novel, slow-release delivery system that is natural and intuitive unlike any other.”
Currently Anuvia produces GreenTRX 16-1-2-17S-3Fe, intended for use in the golf, professional turf and lawn care industries. It will add SymTRX 16-8-0-16S for agricultural use later this year. The balanced rates of nitrogen and sulfur in both are designed to fit the needs of the growing plants. Soil scientists recognize the growing need for higher levels of sulfur, increasingly referred to as the fourth macronutrient.
Anuvia products contain 16 percent organic matter with fast- and slow-released nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. The turf product also contains iron, which promotes greening without excessive growth.
When field-applied, free nutrients, which make up about two-thirds of the total nutrients in the granules, are released in the first two to three weeks, coinciding with the heavy nutrient needs of emerging and rapidly growing plants. The Organic MaTRX breaks down over the next six to eight weeks, slowly releasing bound nutrients, amino acids, peptides and other compounds that benefit soil biology and adding carbon-based organic matter to the soil — thereby contributing to soil health.
Anuvia is in the right place at the right time. The ability to turn organic waste streams into high-value, high-efficiency fertilizer couldn’t be more timely. Industry ARC, a research and consulting firm, projects the global fertilizer market will increase from $116.7 billion in 2014 to $151.8 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, UN projections of population growth and demand for a higher standard of living in many parts of the world by 2050 will place unprecedented demand on food production.
The need for plant nutrients is growing at the same time that environmental concerns over leaching and volatilization of nutrients are also increasing, with state and federal restrictions being proposed or put in place.
As a result, the slow-release fertilizer market is currently growing at 8 percent per year. Crop producers, landscapers, groundskeepers and other fertilizer users are seeking plant nutrient products that meet environmental concerns while encouraging plant health and growth. Anuvia’s Organic MaTRX meets these concerns.
“Our process and our products are perfectly positioned to help meet the growing need for plant nutrients, and to do so in a way that will improve soils, produce healthier plants and protect the environment,” says Burnham.
Anuvia Plant Nutrients help the environment in another way. Organic matter that makes up 16 percent of each granule feeds soil microbes, contributing to improved soil and root zone health.
“If you want better soil structure and water infiltration, you need a healthy biological system,” says Jerry Hatfield, laboratory director and supervisory plant physiologist, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment. “Bio-based fertilizers can help with that because they are more complete fertilizers.”
Hatfield points out that conventional fertilizers are usually blends of specific macronutrients. However, fertilizers that use organic materials as a base ensure the presence of a wider variety of nutrients needed by the soil biology and plants.
“There are a lot of macro and micronutrients available in any biologically based fertilizer,” says Hatfield. “Their slow release is important for crops as it ensures that these nutrients continue to be available as grain fills and matures. They ‘plump out’ the grain, and that is when the grower gets the most profit.”
The slow release means that nitrogen is released as plants can utilize it. Excess nitrates in the soil are subject to leaching as well as volatilization due to denitrification. Preventing this is growing in importance, notes Hatfield.
“We are seeing lawsuits over nitrates in the Des Moines, Iowa, drinking water and growing concern over the impact of excess fertilizer on the hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico,” says Hatfield. “Agriculture is working hard to improve fertilizer efficiency and reduce its environmental impact. There is a lot of interest in how a biological fertilizer can fit into the current system.”