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A world first: Foliar fertiliser manufactured from recycled batteries – Tim Kerr

ZM-Grow is the first zinc and manganese foliar fertiliser to be made from used alkaline batteries ...

Registered and approved for use in the UK for both conventional and organic farming systems, ZM-Grow is distributed by Hutchinsons crop production specialists as part of the company’s growing range of low-carbon nutrition products.

“This is a really exciting product and is branded as a circular economy fertiliser by its clean-tech, Finnish manufacturers Tracegrow,” says Tim Kerr, Hutchinsons fertiliser manager.

“Put simply, Tracegrow has developed an innovative technology to extract, purify and reuse the Zinc and Manganese from alkaline batteries – up to 80% of the trace elements found in alkaline batteries can be re-used.”

Ticks all the boxes

“ZM-Grow ticks all of the pertinent boxes for sustainability, offers a reduced carbon footprint whilst also providing a high quality, effective micronutrient foliar fertiliser that meets a valid need by UK arable growers,” he says.

“ZM-Grow is a sulphate-based concentrate containing 60g/l Zn, 67g/l Mn and 75g/l S. We know that balancing micronutrition can help improve Nitrogen efficiency and ZM Grow can make this difference, at a time when nitrogen prices are at an all-time high.”

Hutchinsons have been trialing and distributing the product for the last two seasons and grower feedback has been very positive. “The recommended rate is 2-3 litres in 200-400l water. In our trials we have found it to be chemically stable, and have had no issues with mixing. It flows smoothly though filters and spray nozzles and doesn’t block them up.”

How is ZM-Grow made?

  • An alkaline mass created out of crushed alkaline batteries.
  • After mechanical pre-treatment stages, the alkaline mass is transferred to the leaching stage.
  • Once the leaching is complete and the solids are separated from the solution, the solution is transferred to the purification stage where unwanted substances can be removed.
  • After purification, the generated solids are separated, and the solution is neutralized to around pH 4.00.
  • Further adjustments of the various constituents may be made to the finished product if necessary.
  • The end result is the world’s most ecological foliar fertiliser.

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