SUSFERT: Developing multifunctional fertilisers for phosphorus and iron supply

Time ripe for synthetic biology, industrial biotechnology

Agriculture depends heavily on the use of non-renewable, resource-intense fertilisers to meet the ever rising demand for food and feed. Ninety per cent of phosphorus, which is the major component of fertiliser, is mined abroad and imported into the EU. Phosphorus has been identified as a critical, unsustainable resource that drives the need to find alternative sources of the mineral from waste streams.

The Horizon 2020/BBI JU funded project SUSFERT is developing new biobased fertilisers to reduce dependency on unsustainable phosphorus imports into the EU. These fertilisers include novel controlled-release coatings from lignin as well as lignosulfonate-based soil improvers originating from wood pulp.  Waste sidestreams such as struvite is utilised to substitute imported phosphorus.

The loss of nutrients from fertilisers in agriculture are being addressed by using probiotics to increase nutrient availability as the demand for sustainable food production rises.

SUSFERT partner, microbiol technology developer, AciesBio, will share insights at EFIB into methods that Acies has perfected to turn industrial biotech projects into commercially viable products. Acies Bio Director for Research & Development, Gregor Kosec, will present on Targeting R&D bottlenecks and building value in industrial biotechnology. “Never before have so many hopes been laid into our ability to partner with nature and engineer microbes to produce most of the things that make our life comfortable and that we are currently generating from fossil fuels. Nevertheless, we are still not seeing industrial biotechnology, on a massive scale, outcompeting 20th-century chemical production processes based on fossil fuels and depreciated production facilities,” he said.

Chemical Engineer Biorefinery Sappi Europe, Nikolaus Schwaiger, will speak about exciting developments on “Lignosulfonate-based polymers in the biobased economy” in the session titled In the spotlight: Sharing circular bioeconomy best practices. Additionally, the SUSFERT partner will join BBI JU Executive Director, Philippe Mengal, and Sustainability and External Affairs Lead, Cargill Bioindustrial, Marty Muenzmaier, on the podium for EFIB’s final session OUTLOOK: The pathway to the future for industrial biotechnology.