July 18, 2018

ORGANIC FARMING: “Liquid Compost” Fuels AgroThrive

AgroThrive Inc., a firm offering organic fertilizers to growers, is built on the premise that all organic wastes can be converted to safe and nutritious organic fertilizers.

Founder and CEO Dragan Macura, who is a food scientist by training, has developed a 21-day process to turn virtually any waste into a pathogen-free, organic-certified liquid fertilizer that offers many benefits to plants and can be delivered to the field through a drip irrigation system.

Macura notes that the company started a dozen years ago, began offering product a decade ago and today is way beyond the test or trial phase. In fact, up until a recent expansion, it was in a demand-exceeds-supply situation, relying on word-of-mouth marketing to sell its output. “We couldn’t keep up with demand,” Macura said, noting that some of the larger grower-shippers in the state are customers, including California’s largest organic vegetable grower. “We tripled our capacity and expanded beyond our current sales so now we are actively marketing and selling.”

But Macura said he no longer relies on trials to prove the efficacy of the product. Grower testimonials do the trick. In the early days, AgroThrive would give the product away to growers agreeing to a trial. The company’s top executive would be actively involved in the effort making sure the trial was conducted properly and fairly, and accurate data was obtained on the back end. Today, of course, new customers often want to conduct their own trials, which suits Macura fine. He helps set up the experiment but no longer feels the need to be in the field analyzing the results on a daily basis. He knows the product works.

Currently, there are a handful of products in the AgroThrive portfolio designed for specific uses. There are four liquid products and one dry pellet in the developmental stage but soon to be released. The common thread is that they are all designed to stimulate growth of root hairs and encourage microbial activity in soil to help nutrient release and absorption efficiency. Macura said the result is a healthier, more nutritious plant, with better foliage, less stress, better disease resistance, and ultimately better yields.

He said the best product comparison is compost, but this “compost” can be delivered through drip lines, or any other irrigation system. He said the AgroThrive products are priced competitively and comparable to other organic fertilizers, such as fish emulsion, which is what many growers use. And of course Macura believes it outperforms those other products. As a certified organic item, the liquid fertilizers can and are applied multiple times during the season from pre-plant to after emergence to during growth.

Macura said the one drawback is that AgroThrive’s products are not “nitrogen strong.”  In certified organic production, he said growers tend to believe that you just can’t get enough nitrogen. But he said his product stimulates growth. “The proof’s in the pudding. That is why we funded so many trials and we proved that it works.”

The company’s facilities are in Gonzales, CA.