Research

 

The sustainable delivery of enough nutrient-rich food to meet the expected population growth, while simultaneously maintaining natural capital under threat from climate change, is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. Our focus is on optimising the performance of arable and grazing livestock systems to use technology to enhance and reform a food production system that is thousands of years old – from soil to plate and back again.

The science in these selected studies summarised below is directly targeted at some of the UK’s most pressing agricultural challenges: improving productivity, using resources more efficiently, lifting soil health and structure, enhancing wildlife and landscape biodiversity, reducing the carbon footprint, and raising the nutritional quality of crop and livestock produce.

To help us refine and test our organo-mineral fertiliser to achieve these aims we have contracted the internationally renowned independent experts at Rothamsted Reseach to conduct various trials since 2015. The fertiliser we discovered is remarkably similar to the initial fertiliser developed by Sir John Bennet Lawes, their founder, some 175 years ago, just that ours is faster to make (in hours) and with added benefits of being customisable and biologically enriched with micronutrients and soluble carbon compounds.

Beginning in 2013 EDL have had various independent and observational pot, field and immune trials undertaken and others continue being run for long term assessment of the improvements we anticipate in soil fertility and biodiversity as well as precision application methodologies and application rates so needed to optimise soils and plant health. Whilst observational trials and feedback from our partner farmers are useful to guide our formulas, its the independent research and scientific publications that anchor our approach to ensuring science and nature are optimised.

2019: ERDF Environmental Futures and Big Data funded trials by Rothamsted on Grass and Wheat

“40% Increase in grass yield over six consecutive cuts”

“Early results are looking good. Thallo® was compared against a standard Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphate (NPK) fertiliser blend. The NPK content of Thallo® was matched by blending conventional straights Triple Super Phosphate, Ammonium Nitrate and Muriate of Potash (TSP, AN, MOP) and then both applied in order to achieve the desired P application rates. As you can see at 50kg P/hectare, over 7 repeat cuts of grass, there is a 40% increase in grass yield. Nutrient uptake data to follow post analysis. . .”

Rothamsted Research

2016: Results from a pot trial to test the agronomic efficiency of Elemental Digest Systems’ ‘Thallo®’ fertiliser against conventional NPK and a standard slow release fertiliser:

“75% more grass on the poor sandy substrate than NPK, 42% more than slow release N with PK”

“Copper (Cu) Phosphate (P) Selenium (Se) and Zinc (Zn) – were present in a significantly higher concentration in the Thallo® treatment compared to the nil treatment, with the Zn concentration significantly higher in the Thallo® treatment compared to the two other fertiliser treatments.”

“Compared to the NPK and slow-release fertilizers, the grass grown using the Thallo® fertiliser had significantly higher concentrations of four elements – Ca, Cu, Se and Zn”

“At the optimal and excess levels of fertilization, the Thallo® fertilised wheat grain had significantly higher concentrations of Ca and Se”

Mineral Uptake in Sheep

“Mineral uptake into sheep mirrors mineral uptake in the grass”

An independently run (Not by Rothamsted) 2017 pilot trial with sheep grazed on Thallo® treated grassland showed encouraging signs of nutrient uptake into red blood cells, reflecting the increased levels of calcium, zinc, selenium and zinc in plants identified by Rothamsted during their 2016 pot trials. Looking ahead we would like to fund a larger controlled trial to qualify the effects and potential impact on a number of health and shelf life related parameters.

Plasma &

 Red Cell Elements

Control Grass Thallo Grass
Sheep 14 Sheep 31 Units % Change with Thallo treated grass
Plasma: Calcium 2.03 2.27 mmol/L 11.8
Iron 33.60 40.00 µmol/L 19.0
Selenium 0.44 0.78 µmol/L 77.3
Zinc 9.20 12.00 µmol/L 30.4
Red Cells: Red Cell Magnesium 1.30 1.48 mmol/L 13.8

 

Current trials underway at Rothamsted Research – mineral uptake results to follow once tissue analysis is completed

–          Sugar Beet

–          Oilseed rape

–          Wheat

Up and coming Research at Rothamsted Research

An investigation into the conferred plant protection potential of Thallo.

Initial trials carried out on broccoli infested with cabbage white caterpillars showed markedly improved pest resilience on the Thallo® fed plants. The cabbage white caterpillars preferentially ate the standard Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphate (NPK) treated plants, then the nil fertiliser control before finally eating the Thallo® treated plants. The increased micro-nutrient content of the leaf tissue and inclusion of plant defence promoting secondary metabolites (elicitors) with Thallo® confers potentially dramatic advantages to the plant. Further trials are to be conducted by Rothamsted to confirm the early results.

Plant defences are produced by their immune system and include the production of ‘bitter’ components; essentially plants try not to be eaten by creating taste related defensive molecules, many of which our body own immune system need to optimise our health – one of the primary reasons nutrient dense vegetables confer a health advantage to us. Thallo® appears to provide uniquely efficient raw materials for this plant self-defence mechanism to work more effectively.

One other change in plants all over the world over the last few years has been driven by the increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. The ongoing increase in atmospheric CO2 depletes other elements essential to human health (such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc) by 5% to 10% in most plants.

Higher concentrations of CO2 stimulate carbohydrate (sugar) production and plant growth, but can lower the levels of protein and essential minerals in a number of widely consumed crops, including wheat, rice, and potatoes, with potentially negative implications for human nutrition – creating what the World Health Organisation calls ‘hidden hunger’ ie. the calories may be present but the nutrients have been depleted and replaced by sugars. This makes plant less bitter but diminishes their and our immune capabilities.

Thallo® re-captures CO2, during the manufacturing process reducing food and agri related losses to atmosphere, and ensures that soils have the minerals replaced in a form that facilitates uptake by plants and onward transfer through the food chain to us.

Summary

The post-war productivity gains of UK agriculture have been accompanied by negative unintended consequences for the environment including dramatic declines in farmland biodiversity and the pollution of water courses. At the same time, in recent years, yields have plateaued with an increasing gap between the potential of new crop cultivars and the yields achieved in farmers’ fields. This may partly be a consequence of a degraded natural environment and the ‘ecosystem services’ it provides to agriculture including pollination and the regulation of crop pest populations.

Thallo® is a commercial product that can be produced at scale and delivers multiple points of advantage to the soil, plants and ultimate consumers. We see it as a progressive step to reversing the decline in soil, plant and human health.