N2 Applied’s Slurry Processing Technology Wins Award Nomination
A slurry treatment solution that turns slurry into nitrogen-rich fertilizer has been shortlisted for an award recognizing environmentally friendly technology.
Using a technique called plasma conversion, N2 Applied’s technology “locks” both methane and ammonia into liquid manure to produce sustainable fertilizer on the farm.
Plasma-treated fertilizer has been scientifically proven to reduce ammonia and methane emissions almost entirely. It also retains nitrogen to further eliminate the need to use chemical fertilizers while maintaining comparable crop yield.
Today, the company behind the technology has been nominated for the ‘Tech For Good’ award at the UK Business Tech Awards in recognition of its efforts to create an environmentally friendly solution.
Nick Humphries, Chief Agronomist and UK Director of N2 Applied, explained: “We have developed an innovative solution that uses only air and electricity to locally produce environmentally friendly fertilizers and at the same time stop methane and ammonia emissions from cattle manure. We believe this is the most efficient and integrated solution to the challenge.
The N2 unit, as the technology is called, has been used in the UK, Northern Europe and South Africa, with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) becoming the first UK buyer and Arla Foods UK conducting a trial in its innovation farm where he used technology to process manure from the farm’s 500-cow dairy herd.
The company’s recently published annual trial data on international trial sites has been independently assessed by scientists, including Oxford Agricultural Trials. It showed that the wheat crop used 85% of the nitrogen applied to fields via the company’s fertilizer, compared to 58% for a chemical ammonium nitrate fertilizer and 53% for untreated slurry.
With the cost of fertilizers rising, N2 Applied’s solution offers an “attractive” option for farmers facing a volatile market, Humphries says. “The exorbitant price of chemical fertilizers this year is a tipping point – it has shown us that this is not where the future of UK food production lies,”he told us. “We can no longer be so dependent on chemical fertilizers produced around the world and instead need to find sustainable alternatives over which farmers have greater control. Additionally, we need to rapidly reduce methane emissions to reduce the impact of climate change, and reducing ammonia has long been desirable.
To adopt an N2 unit, farms must swallow the initial cost of the unit itself, plus the cost of electricity. “The costs of our solution are in the initial purchase of the hardware and the electricity needed to power it”,Humphries said, adding that having a renewable source on the farm would make the technology more efficient to operate.
“The resulting fertilizer material no longer costs much to produce [compared to conventional alternatives] – and given the skyrocketing cost of chemical fertilizers and the low-emissions alternative we are bringing to the market, this sustainable approach offers an attractive path.
Each N2 unit is suitable for a farm with up to 200 cattle on average, with larger farms able to scale by installing multiple units. “The benefits to the environment, farms and the food sector are now proven, and widespread deployment of this technology will be a game-changer,”Humphries told DairyReporter. “The right drivers and incentives are key to driving change, and rising costs have pushed this challenge forward.
“Government, industry and food production value chains must work together to identify the best way to make this transition affordable and viable as soon as possible.”
The company has won or been shortlisted for several awards and accelerator programs, such as The Norrsken Awards – the largest Nordic award for impactful startups – The Manure Challenge US and Foodbytes! by Rabobank. “Being shortlisted for such a prestigious award marks both the positive progress we have made as our technology has been tested on UK farms and its potential to become a significant enabler of more sustainable food production,”concluded Humphries.