American Pacific Borates Limited (ASX:ABR) has achieved positive results from its independently conducted crop trials of its boron enriched SOP specialty fertiliser.
ABR commissioned the University of Connecticut (UConn) to conduct crop trials of its boron enriched SOP (SOP+B) specialty fertiliser. SOP is a potassium-rich fertiliser that does not add potentially harmful chlorides to the soil.
Managing Director, Michael Schlumpberger, said the objective of the trial was to evaluate the growth and yield of broccoli and tomato using four different blends of ABR’s boron enriched SOP fertiliser and compare the yield performance to the grower’s conventional fertilisers (without the addition of boron).
The trials were designed on a randomised basis with four replications of blocks. Each block was 12.5ft x 6ft, with a total trial area of ~0.5 acres.
Plant height was measured every 15 days, marketable fruit/head yield assessed, soil tested (before and after the application of treatments), and a tissue test conducted (during the middle of the growing season). The crops were planted in late May 2020.
Broccoli and tomatoes are ideal candidates for a boron-enriched SOP fertiliser because:
- like many crops, they are sensitive to the chlorides found in other common fertilisers, yet require both potassium and boron (as an essential mirco-nutrient),
- it is generally believed that test results for broccoli will apply to other cruciferous crops (such as kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts) and
- California accounts for 92% of all broccoli grown in the US and 90% of all tomatoes.
ABR submitted four different SOP+B blends for use in the trial with varying ratios of boron applied. The final crop trial report was prepared by Dr. Shuresh Ghimire who holds a PhD in Horticulture, and specialises in vegetable crops as an Extension educator at the UConn Tolland Agricultural Centre.
The broccoli trials demonstrated significant benefits from the use of the boron-enriched SOP. As shown below, the trials revealed a notable uptake of boron in the crops resulting in dramatic yield improvements. Application of ABR Proprietary Blend B delivered the highest yield compared to the grower’s standard SOP fertiliser.
The tomato results became more positive as the growing season progressed and also with higher amounts of boron. The results suggest that there may be a linear correlation between the boron ratio and corresponding effect on yield, which was not evident in the broccoli crop. Tomato yield increased by around 10% using ABR Proprietary Blend D, which in the context of the trial is significant.
Additionally, the grower noted increased vigour and healthy colour from the boron-enriched tomato plants. Based on these promising results, further tomato crop trials will be conducted to:
- quantify the benefit of boron-enriched SOP fertiliser on head or fruit quality and post-harvest life of broccoli and tomatoes, and
- optimise the boron-enrichment ratio within the SOP.
The independent crop trial results start to validate our thesis that ABR’s boron enriched SOP could potentially transform the North American specialty fertiliser market. Seeing broccoli yields more than double when ABR’s boron enriched SOP was applied is amazing,” Mr Schlumpberger said.
“These results also support our view that ABR will have a major competitive advantage in the market given it can produce the boron enriched SOP on site without any double handling or logistics burdens.”
“The company is pleased that the results of the crop trial have met the objectives set, showing that ABR’s boron enriched SOP fertiliser can outperform crops grown using standard SOP in an agricultural setting.
“A detailed review of the trial data is being finalised, with the intention of conducting further crop trials that will refine and ultimately develop a specification in line with ABR’s recently announced premium product suite for the Californian and North American specialty fertiliser markets.”