A B.C.-based start-up that combines nitrogen-fixing bacteria and fermentation to create biological nitrogen has been named as one of Canada’s most investable cleantech ventures.
Farment BioSolutions Ltd. is one of eight agriculture-focused technology companies included on the 2022 Foresight 50 list. The list is compiled annually by Canadian cleantech accelerator Foresight and is designed to attract investor attention to made-in-Canada innovations from industrial wastewater treatment to climate positive fertilizers and more.
Why it matters: Recent events have shown that Canada needs homegrown fertilizer solutions to minimize instability caused by the global supply chain and help the country meet voluntary fertilizer emissions reduction targets.
Farment uses a combination of naturally occurring bacteria with nitrogen-fixing capabilities and fermentation to make farm-based nutrients, like manure, more efficient.
“We take organic wastes in different forms and by fermentation turn them into a biofertilizer. We work with dairy farms and feedlots in B.C. and Alberta currently, but there are many different organic waste problems in need of a solution, like municipal wastes for example,” said Ryan Klatt, who leads partnerships and strategy at Farment.
In addition to working with livestock farms, the company has been looking at ways it can help fish and insect farms deal with their organic waste streams like sludge in the bottom of fish tanks and frass, the manure produced by insects.
According to Klatt, Farment has done some initial testing with fish water waste from a tilapia farm in British Columbia, processing it through its proprietary fermentation process and then evaluating its quality.
“By running the waste through there, our tests showed we increased the fertilizer quality,” he said, adding that they’re now looking for partners to help them further develop this new application for the technology.
The announcement of the Fertilizer Accelerating Solutions & Technology Challenge by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Bioenterprise Canada last September brought Farment to Ontario, where they connected with the Centre for Innovative Aquaculture Production (CIAP) at Fleming College’s Frost Campus in Lindsay.
Together, they’re hoping to undertake a project to validate the initial tilapia results with rainbow trout operations in Ontario if they are approved for funding under the program. If the project is successful, the long-term goal is to create circular economy opportunities for the aquaculture industry that would also benefit farmers, said Ryan Hill, a research scientist at CIAP.
“Currently, fish waste is composted, so getting rid of it represents a cost to aquaculture businesses,” he said. “Our long-term goal is not just to provide a better fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen, but we want to close the loop where we grow fish, and create a better fertilizer for land-based crops that provide feed for those fish. This would create a local supply chain.”
Last year marked the first release of the Foresight 50 list, and companies named on the list went on to collectively raise almost $600 million in investment into their various cleantech solutions. Other agri-food focused companies that were selected for the 2022 list include:
- Hempalta of Alberta, which focuses on innovative hemp processing and product creation.
- Livestock Water Recycling, also of Alberta, which provides high-tech digital manure processing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, concentrate and segregate nutrients for strategic fertilizer application, and recycle clean and reusable water.
- B.C.-based Lucent Biosciences, developer of a smart micro-nutrient fertilizer called Soileos.
- Psigryph Inc. from Guelph that develops food tech for health, redefining how molecules with health benefits enter cells to improve plant and animal nutrition.
- Takachar of B.C. that turns crop and forest residue into higher value chemicals, biofuels and fertilizers in remote communities.
- Manitoba’s TheoryMesh that is building traceable and transparent food supply chains for sustainability and food safety.
- Verdi from B.C., builder of a platform that lets growers build, manage and scale precision agriculture systems to deliver plant-level healthcare.