Organic fertilizer plant planned for Alberta

Candeo Growth Solutions aims to mix organic waste with sand and gravel from quarries to produce a natural fertilizer. Photo: iStock/Getty Images

By Barb Glen
Glacier FarmMedia staff

A company using patented fertilizer production technology developed in California may build an organic fertilizer plant in southern Alberta using locally obtained crushed mineral and organic waste.

Candeo Growth Solutions hopes to finalize a deal this month on the purchase of an unoccupied Second World War-era airport hangar in the Municipal District of Willow Creek, according to director Lindsay Young.

Candeo has the Canadian rights to technology developed by Plant Nutrition Technologies. That company takes lava rock and mine tailings, removes toxic elements and adds organic matter to produce a natural fertilizer.

We’re introducing high mineral content that is good for the plants to access. We introduce lots of microbial life and bacteria into the rock and then that’s what goes onto the land. It’s an all-natural fertilizer. – Lindsay Young

A Canadian operation would use sand and gravel from southern Alberta mixed with organic waste material to achieve a similar product.

“We in Canada, or in Alberta, given that we’re not a mining province, are looking at just local quarries in the Claresholm area,” said Young.

After an analysis of mineral content, the crushed material would be added to waste products such as old hay bales, grocery store waste, straw or other available organic material available in the region.

“We take our minerals and we do add some chemistry to it, we do have some formulations, but we’re trying to achieve a really broad spectrum of mineralization in our product,” said Young.

“Then we put the minerals in a mixture in an anaerobic digester with organic matter and we leave it in there for a specified amount of time. What happens in that process is that it introduces active bacteria into the minerals.”

The goal is to parallel what nature would do in soil, he added.

“We’re introducing high mineral content that is good for the plants to access. We introduce lots of microbial life and bacteria into the rock and then that’s what goes onto the land. It’s an all-natural fertilizer…. It’s duplicating what nature is doing, wants to do naturally, which is the opposite of what we find in our modern agriculture practices.”

Young said Candeo hopes to obtain much of the organic material free of charge because it would otherwise go to waste. In California, for example, waste is collected from grocery stores and trucked to a processing site.

If Candeo develops an operation in the M.D. of Willow Creek, Young said processing would take place inside and no odour or other waste issues are anticipated.

Resulting product would be developed into different fertilizer formulations to suit the customer. Initial target markets for the resulting dry powder product would be hemp and cannabis producers, golf clubs, parks, turf growers and vineyards and orchards, Young said.

Candeo has provided small amounts of product for testing on gardens, lawns and one hole at a golf course. It also had scientific trials conducted at InnoTech Alberta on hemp crops.

Researcher Jan Slaski of InnoTech said the product was tested on hemp within a greenhouse and on one acre of crop in the field, the latter when it was the sole source of nutrients.

“Initial observations are very encouraging,” said Slaski.

The researcher said he believes Candeo wanted tests on hemp in particular as a proxy for marijuana to see how it performed.

In greenhouse trials, Slaski said one Candeo blend in particular increased the level of cannabinoids in hemp plants without increasing THC levels. Plants also grew taller.

Results from field tests will be completed when the crop is harvested, said Slaski, but there is “a very strong indication that (the) product could have a place in the marketplace.”

Willow Creek M.D. Reeve Maryanne Sandberg said Candeo gave a presentation to the municipal planning committee and was favourably received.

“We welcome any development of that nature to help out agriculture,” she said.

The Candeo board of directors includes former federal agriculture minister Charlie Mayer, Bill Hogan, president of Foodchek Systems Inc., and Robert Iverach, a Calgary-based lawyer, among others.

This article originally appeared in the Western Producer.