Agroplasma, Inc. was started in North America by Hans Berglund in early 2004, to be the exclusive distributor of a line of plant nutrition products built around fresh water algae.
Berglund said the technology is not new but is rather several decades old and he claims its efficacy is well established. As such he bought the rights to market the resulting products in North America and sat back almost waiting for farmers to beat a path to his door. He admits to being naïve. He thought growers would allow him to set up small test plots within their fields, at no charge to them, and once he proved that the product worked, they would buy it in large quantities, apply it liberally and both they and he would reap the benefits.
However, he has taken some missteps and also has learned that growers are a very cautious bunch. “I lost a lot of money proving it works in Mexico and then not getting paid for deliveries,” he said.
Consequently Berglund and Agroplasma, which is a member of Western Growers, lost several years’ worth of momentum. In fact, he discounts the first five years of work in Mexico and said it has only been the last four years that he has gained traction and is now beginning to build a loyal following.
The firm’s signature product is called Ferticell. He calls it the “queen” of the product line and today it is the foundation of their company. The main product, Ferticell Universal was developed in Europe more than 25 years ago and has been successfully sold in many countries. In fact, Agroplasma Europe has more than 20 years of experience in the agricultural sector, developing products for the improvement, desalination, and decontamination of soils.
The company’s focus is on the creation of conventional and organic fertilizers, amino acids, and correctors. The Ferticell products are based on different types of unicellular algae, bacteria and natural extracts of plants, seeds, and minerals. Ferticell is a unique product with breakthrough technology that is made of 16 unicellular algae and bacteria types that penetrate into the leaf instantaneously. Additionally it stabilizes the auxins and cytokinins inside the plant which is important for the plant growth and producing a homogenous crop.
While most of the company’s plant nutrient products qualify for organic use, Berglund said the company is not specifically going after the organic grower but rather their target is the conventional grower.
He said test after test shows that plants produce better when the Ferticell products are applied as part of a company’s fertilizer program. So far, Berglund said he is starting to make good inroads with various products including berries, grapes, almonds and cherries.
The company’s website (www.agroplasmausa.com) gives a very detailed explanation of how the algae-based nutrients work for the betterment of the plant. In a nutshell, the theory behind their efficacy is that these algae-based cells are able to store very large amounts of nutrients such as amino acids, microelements, and vitamins within their cell walls and then transfer these nutrients to the plant. Cytoplasmic streaming, or Inter-Cellular Exchange (ICE), according to the website, is the mechanism by which nutrient movement from Ferticell occurs into the plant’s cells. ICE is most active in young living cells, particularly those found in leaves and roots. “The cells in the Ferticell products are considerably more concentrated than the surrounding solution. The leaf cells contain a solution which is considerably less concentrated than the Ferticell cells. This difference in concentration initiates the Inter-Cellular Exchange of nutrients from Ferticell into the plant’s leaves. The same process applies to the transfer of Ferticell nutrients into the plant root when it is in the soil.”
Consequently the transfer creates a healthier and more productive plant.
The website claims that Ferticell also allows the plant to “utilize existing nutrients in the leaf tissue and soil more effectively.” Berglund specifically said that a field of crops gets much better utilization of nitrogen if that application is done in concert with a Ferticell application.
He said a grower will see better root structure, more top growth and increased yields with more homogeneous fruits and increased shelf life with Ferticell. And Berglund claims that the cost is very reasonable and minimal compared to the advantages.
So why aren’t growers beating a path to his door. “Farmers are cynical by nature,” he said, so it takes a lot to convince them to try something new. And he said pest control advisors are often the hurdle that he has found most difficult to jump. He said they tend to recommend previous programs that they believe work and are not that intent on experimenting.
However, Berglund remain optimistic that his product will succeed simply because he knows it’s better. While farmers are cynical, he said they are also curious and interested in improving their crops and as Ferticell products gain customers, he said that breeds new customers.
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