A scientist talks about the uses of bio-organic fertilizer and how we can benefit from his invention.

by Zac B. Sarian

A new bio-organic foliar fertilizer has been developed by Dr. Ronaldo Sumaoang, a UP Los Baños graduate who also took advanced studies in microbiology at two institutions in Germany.

Dr. Rene Sumaoang and his new bio-organic foliar fertilizer derived from fish hydrolysate.

This is the Durabloom bio-organic foliar fertilizer, now manufactured by the Novatech Agri-Foods Corporation headed by Dr. Sumaoang. It is also the same company that produces Durabloom organic fertilizer in powder and pellet forms.

Dr. Sumaoang explains that his new bio-organic fertilizer is totally derived from the hydrolysate of fish trimmings or scraps from a fish fillet processing plant in the Visayas. This company processes several tons of fish fillet for export to Japan and produces a substantial amount of fish trimmings like heads, fins, gills, and innards everyday.

Disposing of these trimmings was a big problem for the company. Now, however, the problem has been alleviated with the processing of the scraps into bio-organic foliar fertilizer.

Dr. Sumaoang explains that the fish parts that are discarded are dissolved into liquid form (hydrolysate) through the action of enzymes. The proteins and minerals in the fish trimmings are broken down by enzymes so that these are readily absorbed by plants when sprayed on their leaves. The fertilizer is very safe to apply on vegetables, especially those that are not cooked before being served on the table, such as salad leafy greens, cucumber, French beans, and the like. Of course, it is also a safe fertilizer for all edible crops.

The fish hydrolysate, according to Dr. Sumaoang, is very rich in amino acids which are essential in building the tissues of growing organisms. One very significant advantage of the fertilizer from fish hydrolysate, he says, is that the fertilizer sticks to the leaves because of the oil in the fish extract. Therefore, it is not easily washed off when it is sprayed on leaves, even when it rains.

Dr. Sumaoang has also incorporated enzymes and beneficial organisms in his Durabloom bio-organic foliar fertilizer, which makes it effective in enhancing the growth of seedlings as well as mature crops. When drenched on seedlings, it helps protect the young plants from fungal infection so that damping off is prevented.

When sprayed on mature plants like vegetables, the drippings help in the proliferation of good microorganisms in the soil.

Durabloom bio-organic foliar fertilizer is very economical to use, says Dr. Sumaoang. Only 10 tablespoons needed for mixing with water in a 16-liter knapsack sprayer. He also pointed out that his foliar fertilizer is very stable, so it will not expand during storage and cause leakages in its plastic container. The addition of beneficial microorganisms and the adjustment of the pH (measure of acidity or alkalinity) have made the formulation very stable, he says.

FUTURE PLAN – This early, Dr. Sumaoang is planning to incorporate natural plant extracts in his organic foliar fertilizer that can control or prevent insect damage in crops. This may include hot chili extract, neem oil, and others. When this materializes, he might call his new product a “bio-organic ferticide.” Who knows?

PELLETED DURABLOOM – Dr. Sumaoang is also a pioneer in producing organic fertilizer in the form of powder. This is Durabloom, which is mainly composed of processed chicken manure and some other farm wastes, including coco coir dust.

His new thrust is the production of pelletized organic fertilizer. Compared to organic fertilizer in powder form, the pelletized version has its own significant advantages. Dr. Sumaoang explains that ordinarily, in rice production, the recommendation is to apply the organic fertilizer during final land preparation. The problem with the powder form is that when it rains, much of the fertilizer could be washed away. So there is a big loss.

With the pelletized fertilizer, which comes in solid pellets, the same could be applied a week or so later. This could be broadcasted in the field and there’s practically no loss because the pellets will sink to the bottom. The pellets are also, in a way, a slow release fertilizer so that their effect in the field is longer lasting and better for nurturing the plants.

Dr. Sumaoang earlier acquired a pelletizing machine that had a limited capacity. He has ordered a much bigger machine from abroad to meet his requirements.

For easy handling, the pelletized fertilizer comes in packs of 25 kilos and 10 kilos; it’s also available in 1-kilo packs for urban gardeners.

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s September 2014 issue.