Stories: Novihum lignite-based humus as instant, lasting soil booster
Unlike fresh humus such as compost, stable humus makes a long-term contribution to soil fertility. It takes many years to form naturally - but now, for the first time, a manufactured granulate is available. European Innovation Council pilot's funded company Novihum Technologies is offering this product as an instant, lasting fix for tired soils is carrying out EU-funded research and development for its commercialisation.
Novihum is the name of a humus granulate derived from brown coal, or lignite, by means of an innovative process developed by the Technical University of Dresden in Germany. Novihum Technologies, a young, local SME, is now taking this soil enhancement technology from the lab into the land.
Intense R&D activity was done to prepare for market entry, which notably involved ramping production up to an industrial scale. As of October 2017, the company’s pilot plant had been operating successfully and at full capacity for 12 months, reports Virginia Corless, head of strategy and business development at Novihum Technologies.
The plant is designed to produce 1 000 tonnes per year, Corless adds, and plans for the construction of an even bigger facility are under way. The product range is also being extended.
The company is engaging with potential customers, several of whom are trialling the product – with very encouraging results, Corless notes.
One such trial, now in its third year, involves a German vineyard. “The yields remain more than 20 % higher,” she says.
Novihum Technologies benefited from EU support for its work to take Novihum to the market. More specifically, the company received a Phase 2 grant in 2015 of 2.427.600 €.
And indeed, says Corless, Novihum is a product with potential applications around the world. It can, she adds, be used to improve even the poorest soils and also boosts crop resilience to environmental stress such as droughts and frost.
“Of course, as a small company, we have to focus on specific markets at the beginning,” says Corless.
As a first step, Novihum Technologies is pursuing business opportunities in Germany, Italy, Spain and North America.
View Novihum Technologies's information on the EIC SME Instrument data hub.