Case Study Liquid Fertilizer

The Client

The client was a small startup company of 10 employees involved in developing a line of natural fertilizers for the domestic and international horticultural, and home and garden markets.

The Problem

With the ever-increasing desire for an environment free of man-made chemicals, our client desired to offer fertilizers that are effective on plants, suitable for organic gardening, and safe for the user.

The desired product was a multi-purpose natural fertilizer with an abundance of primary secondary and micronutrients. The major component, chicken manure extract, was a dark brown, non-viscous, water-based liquid, free from suspended solids, having only a mild odor.

In this particular case, the client already had a crude product which had shown some success in field trials but lacked desirable physical and chemical properties to be acceptable for the market.

Tasks Involved

After an initial literature search some raw materials were obtained. Formulations were prepared and their emulsification and dilution properties tested. Formulations passing the lab tests were sent to the client for greenhouse and field-testing on a monthly basis. As field results came available modifications were made to the formulations as required.

Once the preferred formula was determined samples were place on storage tests at elevated temperatures to ensure that the product was chemically and physically stable. A larger, semi technical scale batch was prepared to study any potential problems during production. A final report was written upon completion with results and recommendations. A standard operating procedure for commercial production was also written together with a product MSDS sheet.

The Outcome

The final product was an emulsifiable concentrate that was physically stable in the bottle, formed a spontaneous dilution in water and was slightly thickened to assist with product handling. After very successful trials on field tomatoes under the supervision of a horticultural consultant the product was compared with two commercial brand-name fertilizers. The results were such that at the label rate the product performed as well as or better than the competitive products.

Also, during the same time, seedling trials and field trials with tomatoes, cucumbers and broccoli were conducted as part of a Canadian federal program called the Industrial Research Assistance Program, comparing the product with a popular brand name fertilizer. Results showed excellent growth of the seedlings and that the results were as good and in some areas out performed the commercial brand name fertilizer.

The client was very pleased with the result and has since had a very successful commercial launch of the product across North America.

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