Neutrog Australia wanted to develop biological fertiliser products that are more microbiologically diverse, adaptable and applicable to a range of uses. It was also key that these products reduce the environmental impact of agriculture while enhancing agricultural output.
Through the Australian Government's Entrepreneurs' Programme, CSIRO SME Connect Innovation Facilitator David Monck assisted Neutrog in securing two Innovation Connections grants to support their research collaboration.
Collaborating with research expertise
The first grant supported collaboration with researcher Dr Kapil Chousalker from the University of Adelaide to look at the safety of a microbiological inoculant in chicken sheds. Neutrog wanted to establish the health safety of chickens to the biologically active liquid preparation, Litterbugs™, prior to its potential application in commercial chicken farms. Although, Neutrog had the in-house expertise to grow and formulate the inoculant, they did not have the facilities or expertise to carry out tests and the work required specific biosafety facilities and technical expertise not available at Neutrog.
The second grant supported collaboration with Professor Barjesh Singh at Western Sydney University to examine the potential for applying biocontrol agents against plant fungal diseases. The research examined whether Trichoderma and other fungal isolates could be used as a biological control agent against fungal pathogens with significant commercial impact. Although, Neutrog had isolated a number of potential biocontrol agents including Trichoderma, they lacked the means to test these in glasshouse setting. The tests examined the potential to increases in plant resistance when faced with specific fungal pathogens. This work required facilities such as glasshouses and the ability to contain and control any pathogen, this level of expertise was not available at Neutrog.
Continuing further research
Based on the success and data obtained through the Innovation Connection grants, Neutrog have applied for a third grant to support the employment of a graduate to undertake identification and isolation of beneficial microbes from various soil and crop types. The soils and plants will be screened for a range of beneficial microbes including as biocontrol agents, the potential to unlock nutrients and their ability to produce plant growth hormones further grow and strengthen their collaboration.