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Improving crop production with innovative customised microbes

"There are countless microbes that have both positive and negative effects on plant growth. Ensuring that crops are paired with the best ones offers a novel way of improving yields, and over 85% of the world’s crop species could benefit from our technology", says Dr Peter Orrell, founder of MycoNourish. 

MycoNourish, a spin-out of the James Hutton Institute, announced today the completion of a £150K funding round led by Techstart Ventures. The funding, combined with a recent £125K Higgs Award from Scottish EDGE, will allow the company to grow the business and release their first two products targeted at enhancing yield and quality in strawberry and tomato crops.

The start-up’s technology aims to sustainably improve crop production by taking advantage of microbes that work in symbiosis with crops. This is done with the assistance of beneficial fungi, known as ‘mycorrhizae’, which act as a secondary root system for plants, and work with crops to enhance yields. Using these beneficial organisms adds value for growers by increasing their margins and supporting them to be globally competitive.

With increasing pressures on the agricultural industry, ranging from changes in regulations and products no longer being available due to labour shortages, it is vital for growers to maximise the amount of their produce that meets the highest grade. An average of 10% of strawberry production goes to waste as it doesn’t meet the quality standards required for retail – and MycoNourish harnesses the power of beneficial microbes to tackle these issues. €143bn is lost by growers to wastage each year across Europe, and technology such as this will form an important part of a toolset of sustainable improvements to tackle food wastage at the primary production stage, and improve food security.

"We are delighted to have recently completed this investment round, which will enable us to bring our first two products to market. We found the pragmatic approach of our investors to align well with our company, and we look forward to working with them to commercialise this exciting opportunity.” MycoNourish will launch its first line of products later in the year.

Source: The James Hutton Institute

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