RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Not all of the food waste happens at home. Grocery stores dispose of a lot of food, much of it destined for landfills. WISErg has developed technology that captures nutrients from food scraps and turns them into fertilizer. Now that technology belongs to Plant Response.

Plant Response

The Durham agricultural technologies company recently announced its acquisition of WISErg, a Redmond, Washington-based fertilizers startup. While the conventional menu of crop inputs focuses on nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, WISErg aims to provide a “more balanced diet” through fertilizers made with a proprietary technology that captures all the nutrients from food waste. The company has commercialized two fertilizer products for conventional agriculture and one for organic farming.

Plant Response believes that fertilizers and nutrient enhancement can be part of a sustainable agriculture strategy. According to Plant Response CEO Tom Snipes, the balanced diet these products provide benefits plants and the soil while also increasing the amount of carbon that can be sequestered per acre.

Plant Response CEO Tom Snipes
Plant Response CEO Tom Snipes.

“The [WISErg] technology has amazing potential across crop types and regions, in addition to the footprint they already have on organic acres across the U.S. and Mexico,” he said in a prepared statement. “We anticipate scaling its use on significantly more acres domestically and internationally.”

No financial terms of the WISErg deal were disclosed. But Plant Response says the acquisition is part of the company’s strategy to build its offerings of biological products and nutrient efficiency technologies.

Plant Response develops and markets biological products that confer benefits to crops, such as resistance to drought, increased yield, and a hardier response to plant stresses. These biologicals are intended to reduce use of crop chemicals. Privately held Plant Response has several products registered and approved for commercial use in the U.S.

The seeds of Plant Response’s business were planted in Spain. The company spun out of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in 2008 and Madrid continues to be its base in Europe, where it maintains commercial and R&D operations. In 2017, the startup selected the Research Triangle for its North American operations, setting up temporary office space at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center through the Landing Pad program.

WISErg is Plant Response’s third acquisition. Last year, the firm purchased Pathway BioLogic, a Florida-based company that develops rhizobacteria products that help plants grow and stay healthy. That deal followed a merger with Response Biotech, a company researching live microbial and biologically derived chemistries that offer various modes of action to improve plants. The combined company made Durham its global headquarters.

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