Phospholutions Raises $10.15M Round
Phosphorous focus, product positioning, and what can we learn from Anuvia?
Phospholutions secured an additional $10.15 million in funding, bringing its total funding to date to $32.5 million. Phospholutions technology is contained in the product Rhizosorb, a product targeted at increasing phosphorous uptake efficiency by the crop.
There is a lot of interest in nitrogen technology products— whether through N fixation or environmentally protecting nitrogen from losses via coatings or nitrogen stabilizers applied upstream in the manufacturing process (eg: Super U from Koch) or applied at blending before being put onto the field, such as through Agrotain products. This emphasis makes sense: Nitrogen makes up one of the largest single expenses for a farmers inputs every single year, plus inefficient usage of nitrogen fertilizers leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions.
What gets less attention is phosphorous. But it is typically the third most abundant nutrient needed by crops (after nitrogen and potassium) and the second highest in terms of removal (within the grain harvested after nitrogen). That means it needs to be replaced within the soil in larger amounts.
Phosphorous is fickle, though. It is extremely inefficient at getting taken up by crops; depending on the research you want to cite, roughly 30% of P applied gets used by crops in the year of application. The availability of phosphorous to crops is highly influenced by other soil ions, such as aluminum or calcium, depending on soil pH. This also leads to situations where P is in the soil, not absorbed by crops and removed via surface water run-off, where it ends up in bodies of water we see problems such as algal blooms.
Phosphorous efficiency presents an opportunity for improvement of agronomic outcomes as well as environmental.
There are numerous P efficiency enhancing products that have been used over the years, such as microbes like Penicillium bilaiae (commercially Jumpstart) that solubilizes P for increased plant availability after being applied as a seed treatment or inoculant or products like AVAIL from Verdesian which is a form of ammonium salt of maleic–itaconic copolymer and is treated onto phosphorous fertilizers, helping to make Phoshorous more readily available to crops.
Where Phospholutions Rhizosorb product differs is that they take their product, an ion exchange mechanism that is driven by a concentration gradient to govern release and utilization, and integrate it upstream at the phosphorous manufacturing process. A novel approach.
But Phospholutions doesn’t manufacturer the product themselves, they use partners upstream. Phospholutions does not disclose their partners.
A notable start-up was working on similar nutrient efficiency efforts, albeit with different technology and varying approaches to capex: Anuvia. In May of this year, Anuvia announced they were winding down their business. Anuvia had taken on the more capital-intensive route of owning the facility (from Mosaic) and manufacturing the product themselves.