“Custom Chemistry: A South African Innovator’s Monumental Stride in Micro-Organism Applications”
For the past decade, Custom Chemistry, a South African company, has been diligently delving into the practical applications of micro-organisms. Their products and advancements have found extensive use throughout Southern Africa, marking them as a prominent player in the region’s scientific landscape. Now, they’ve achieved a monumental breakthrough, one poised to wield a profound impact on the agricultural sector, both domestically and internationally.
Their latest research endeavors and experimental outcomes present a long-sought solution that has evaded researchers for over seven decades. This breakthrough has the potential to usher in unprecedented levels of crop yield, promising advancements that have never before been witnessed in the agricultural realm.
For decades, nitrogen fertilizer has held the title of the primary catalyst for achieving high-yield agricultural production worldwide. Back in the 1950s, a remarkable discovery emerged – a group of bacteria known as diazotrophs, capable of converting atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants could readily absorb. This revelation held the promise of revolutionizing the agricultural industry. However, a significant hurdle remained: the substantial energy input required for nitrogen fixation rendered this approach commercially impractical.
Enter Gerhard Vermaak, Managing Director of Custom Chemistry, who embarked on a quest to find a viable energy source to power these diazotrophs. His search led him to a fascinating organism mentioned in the scientific literature – an autotrophic organism with the potential to generate sufficient energy through photosynthesis. This energy could, in turn, sustain the diazotrophs, facilitating the fixation of substantial and practical amounts of nitrogen, thereby nurturing high-yield crop growth.
Vermaak’s journey involved a series of meticulously designed experiments to validate his concept, which he dubs “EL-I” technology. This innovative approach entails inoculating young plants with varying ratios of autotrophs and diazotrophs to determine whether the diazotrophs can indeed harness significantly higher levels of nitrogen fixation.
Gerhard Vermaak’s pursuit of the EL-I (Early Life Initiation) technology began with a modest start – just eight maize plants in Midrand. Yet, his ambition and curiosity led him to expand his experiments to a 5-hectare maize plantation in Hendrina, Mpumalanga. With each step, the scale of his endeavors grew exponentially, reaching 300 and then an impressive 2,500 hectares of Dryland Wheat in Makwassie. Additionally, he dedicated 600 hectares to maize in Viljoenskroon in the Free State.
To explore the versatility of his concept, Vermaak also conducted experiments with soya and peanuts, broadening the scope of his research.
Vermaak meticulously compared the results obtained from plants inoculated with EL-I technology to those using traditional chemical nitrogen fertilizers and organic nitrogen fertilizers. The findings were both undeniable and striking: the combination of these two distinct inoculants markedly enhanced the nitrogen-fixing capacity of the bacteria, leading to yields that outperformed those achieved through conventional chemical and organic nitrogen fertilizers. This discovery promises a groundbreaking shift in agricultural practices.
In Makwassie, where 300 hectares of agricultural land were treated with EL-I technology, the results were nothing short of extraordinary. The harvest yielded an impressive average of 4.5 tons per hectare, a stark contrast to the typical dryland harvest that typically yields around 2 tons per hectare when using an 80 N chemical fertilizer program. This astonishing outcome effectively more than doubled the crop yield, offering a remarkable boost in productivity.
In another remarkable instance, a farmer observed an astonishing occurrence – a single maize plant sprouted an incredible 11 heads of corn. These astounding results underscore the transformative potential of EL-I technology in enhancing crop yields and, by extension, the agricultural industry as a whole.
Gerhard Vermaak underscores the monumental significance of this breakthrough in agriculture, emphasizing its potential to drastically reduce production costs while simultaneously boosting yields. Moreover, its far-reaching environmental benefits are poised to transform the agricultural landscape. Vermaak notes that the inoculation method represents a game-changing development not witnessed since the introduction of the first chemical fertilizers.
He is quick to emphasize that this isn’t a fanciful notion but a reality grounded in concrete results, meticulously documented on paper. These results are further substantiated by independent analysts’ assessments and the overwhelmingly positive, albeit sometimes exuberantly expressed, feedback from jubilant farmers.
Vermaak concludes with an electrifying vision for the future: “We are brimming with excitement about the implications of this breakthrough, and our patent is currently pending registration. We are actively seeking a strategic partner with substantial influence to join forces with us in bringing this technology to a national and international audience. This collaborative effort holds the potential to revolutionize the agricultural sector, enriching the lives of businesses and individuals connected to it, for the better.”