Soil Biology Revolution
Healthier plants better able to fight off disease are a key part of the biotic fertilizer product offer. When early customers cited reduced powdery mildew in salad greens and reduced clubfoot in cole crops, Marler, Cisneros and company president, Dan Hazen took note. As more reports came in, the company began to fine-tune their process and their patent on the health consequences of biotic fertilizer. The results have helped encourage the company's transition from organic to conventional. Biotic fertilizer that was once limited to organic production is now being produced in large volumes for use on conventional commercial farming operations.
"After one of our large growers noted no fungus in his organic fields treated with Perfect Blend while conventional fields across the road were loaded, they started using it on the conventional fields, too," said Marler. "Their yields have gone up 23 percent over a five-year average, and acceptability has gone sky high. Total solids and sugars have gone up, and fungus has dropped off the radar."
Defining the Concept
For the past decade, Perfect Blend has struggled to define itself and gain acceptance with the biotic fertilizer concept. With Hatfield and Walthall taking the biotic concept seriously and distributors like Baumberger getting user endorsements, biotic fertilizer appears to be at a tipping point. Perfect Blend appears positioned to lead the way.
Hazen said those 10 plus years have allowed the company to develop its process and refine a scalable plant easily duplicated and licensed. Revenue has shifted from solely organic to 70 percent conventional sales. Perhaps most important is sustainability. If the company is competitive with conventional products today, what happens as those conventional products continue to increase in price? As Marler pointed out, the basic ingredient in biotic fertilizer is in abundance.
"We produce 300 million tons of manure in the U.S. each year alone," he said. "Last year we used only 50 million tons of fertilizer. Every technology has an S-curve. Right now biotic is at the bottom of the S, where it rises steeply before it flattens out again. I would suggest that within 50 years, current N, P and K technology will be used at much lower rates as biotic fertilizer supplants it."