Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Unibaio

How can fishing waste enable eco-friendlier farming?


Nutrient-rich formulas made from shrimp waste help to maximise agricultural inputs

Spotted: Chitin, cellulose, and starch are the three most important and abundant polysaccharides on the planet. Polysaccharides are long chains of carbohydrates and have many cellular uses. Chitosan, a derivative of chitin, comes from fish and shellfish and is increasingly used in pharmaceuticals, biomedicine applications, and agriculture largely because of its biodegradability, biocompatibility, and non-toxicity.

As one of the world’s top producers of wild shrimp, Argentina contends with sizeable quantities of waste from industrial processing systems. Rather than let the chitosan in those shells go unused, Argentinian company Unibaio is turning it into a biologic agro-input that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of fertilisers and pesticides.

Unibaio creates custom, biodegradable nanocarriers for the active ingredients in agricultural pesticides, both synthetic and biological. The carriers allow for targeted delivery that helps reduce the volumes needed for each crop, thereby contributing to a sizeable reduction in the amount of harmful chemicals released into the environment. The carriers’ ability to progressively release ingredients over time also helps farmers save time and money by reducing the number of applications they must put on each field.

The company works with each grower to determine the best microparticle mix for the crops and geography of the farm, and continuously assesses the effectiveness of each mix. Unibaio’s formula can reduce a farmer’s need for chemicals by 80 per cent, and, in the long term, could help growers transition towards chemical-free agriculture.

Unibaio plans to bring products to market in 2025 and has started applying for regulatory certification in the United States. Additionally, the company’s longer-term plans include further developing its technology “to address other global challenges such as water pollution and soil regeneration and to prioritise sustainability and social impact in everything we do,” co-founder and CEO Matias Figliozzi told Springwise.

Other innovations in Springwise’s library featuring shellfish waste include helmets made from scallop shells and a stronger cement made from shrimp waste.

Written By: Keely Khoury




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