I'd even go as far as to say that utilising waste products from both arable farming and food production has surpassed being a necessary idea when today’s environmental pressures are taken into consideration.
But how many products that tackle by-product waste from one industry can also claim to give back to another in a way that not only improves sustainability credentials but assists in:
- growing healthier crops
- producing more food
- reducing reliance on chemicals
- improving investment return and,
- supporting a regenerative environment
How many can you count?
For the last three years, I and myriad teams working at Pelagia’s UK and Ireland facilities have been developing and refining a process to transform responsibly sourced fish by-products – sourced from Pelagia’s core divisions - into Sea2Soil, the UK’s first organic soil improver made entirely from fish hydrolysate.
Already proving it can deliver on yield and reduce your reliance on chemical intervention, resulting in a higher return on investment, Sea2Soil essentially acts as a probiotic for your soil. Containing a full range of naturally derived, balanced amino acids, fatty acids and an array of macro and micronutrients, Sea2Soil works by feeding the soil with bacteria and fungus so that it, in turn, can feed your plants more efficiently to help them reach their full potential.
By taking waste – natural fish by-product - from Pelagia’s already zero-waste UK, Ireland, and Scotland-based operations, we have been able to transform it into a usable product that can and will benefit how you farm while simultaneously supporting Pelagia’s circular economy and environmental approach.
Approved by the Soil Association
...and now working in partnership with NIAB (National Institute of Agricultural Botany), Sea2Soil is currently being used to supplement soil health for growing common arable crops including wheat, barley, rape and oilseed rape, even in vineyards and on Christmas tree farms, across the UK.
For Sea2Soil, trials began in 2019 on Regen Ben’s farm in Ross-on-Wye. Like any new product, we needed to see how it performed in the field, pun intended, to categorically identify how and if yield performance was affected and most importantly if there were any problems.
The team and I found that yield was either maintained or showed an increase, but what the results highlighted was that Ben’s return on investment was higher, much higher, due to his reduction of chemical input. Following the completion of Ben’s trials in March of this year, the product has been licensed and Soil Association Approved for use in commercial and organic farming.
So, why change how you feed the soil?
Don’t get me wrong chemicals can have their place when used measuredly alongside other more sustainable farming methods, even alongside Sea2Soil, but we need to look beyond them and curb our chemical dependence.
The rise in sterility in agriculture as an industry is hard to comprehend. Look back not even hundreds of years and it’s easy to see how rapidly the industry has favoured chemical enhancement over natural counterparts – a change which we all know can be put down to countless societal and industry-specific pressures rather than disregard for the land or environment. None of us knew it at the time, but like many things, introducing chemicals was a case of solving one issue but causing many. Our reliance on chemicals has led to countless issues, including topsoil erosion and the destruction of soil health which in turn has been detrimental to our crops. A vicious circle that does nothing but feed issues.
A circuit breaker has been needed for a long time.
But the irony is, Sea2Soil or at least the science behind it, is not new to global agriculture. The knowledge of it has always been there, it’s just been lost. As Europe’s leader in its field, Pelagia itself has over 100 years of experience and knowledge that has aided the development of this product, a process which has also streamlined Pelagia’s processing hubs making them more efficient outside of fishing seasons. A new way to add traditional support to your crops, Sea2Soil may well be a first for the UK – both in terms of production and marketing – but the idea of using food waste to feed our soil is already backed up by a wealth of research, performance statistics and results from the world over.
Sea2Soil revives traditional farming methods that time has forgotten, ones which align with the path regenerative farming is beginning to carve out within the industry and across our landscapes. It’s understandable that for many farmers, a move away from traditional methods is an uneasy thought. But as I said from the get-go, this is not a new idea. Already widely used in farming across America, Australia and New Zealand, products that work in a similar way to Sea2Soil are already proving their worth and it’s time the UK caught up.
For the team and I, Sea2Soil brings with it an opportunity. To bring together two industries that have a historic track record of negative environmental impact to create positive, lasting change.
Benefits of Sea2Soil
- Providing nutrients in a bioavailable form, feeding both the plant and the soil.
- Enhances soil biology, promoting beneficial microorganisms and earthworms
- A biologically active soil has the ability to retain moisture, release nutrients and increase nutrient availability.
- Promotes better root and growth structure.
- Aids natural resistance to fungal, bacterial and viral pathogens in growing plants.
- Helps to rebalance soil biology, creating healthier soil and a more productive plant.