This Canadian company is repairing the damage we've done to our planet's soil in a natural way
We need to stop treating soil like dirt. “When soil is healthy, it has the power to fix climate change and the problems we’re having today,” says Darrell Liski, CEO of EnBiorganic, which focuses on creating and using microbiology to restore soil to its natural state. “We’re nature’s remedy made ready,” says Darrell.
Why is that important? According to the United Nations, if present rates of soil degradation continue, the world’s remaining topsoil will be gone in 55 years, by 2075. And what does that mean for our planet?
Well, 95 percent of our food is grown in soil, and it has a ripple effect. Modern techniques in farming—such as tilling, plowing, spraying with dangerous chemicals and replanting every year, as well as harmful techniques and practices in animal agriculture—have eroded soil to an unhealthy level, and those chemicals are trickling down into our water systems and into the food we consume. When we damage soil, we substantially reduce its ability to retain and further sequester carbon. Without a healthy soil microbiome, the continuing release of carbon into our atmosphere leads to climate change.
In their lab, Environmental Bioorganic Sciences Corp. builds naturally derived microbiology formulations to target specific organic material. EnBiorganic has created a means to produce these formulations on-site and deploys them with an autonomous production technology—called the EBS-Di—in high, active populations. The soil microbiology is adapted to the specific wastewater, lake water, soil or waste from livestock operations. Essentially what EnBiorganic does is regeneration, repairing the damage we’ve done to our planet’s soil through natural processes.
We caught up with Darrell to better understand how EnBiorganic's innovative technology helps make soil healthy again...
E911: What exactly does EnBiorganic do?
Darrell: Founded in 2019 by myself and our co-founder and CTO Rodney Dickerson, EnBiorganic was created to commercialize the advancement of his technologies, microbial formulations and the EBS-Di unit—a generator of high concentration of the microbial formulations—which Rod and our scientists have developed over 30 years. The technology is a method. Through the identification of specific soil microbiology, we build a proprietary consortium of microbes to perform tasks at a very low energy input. The formulation is specifically adapted, on-site, to the problem on hand. Our soil microbiology is all bio-safety level one, non-pathogenic, non-GMO and on the Canadian Domestic Substance List (DSL)—approved for use in Canada.
E911: What does the EBS-Di unit look like?
Darrell: It’s only four-feet wide, three-feet high and two-feet deep—small but mighty. (See how it works and what it looks like in the video below).
E911: So how does the EBS-Di help the environment?
Darrell: What we do—specifically speaking, about municipal wastewater treatment—we eliminate the odours, eliminate the pathogens and sludge (bio-solids), and reduce electrical consumption by up to 65 percent while greatly increasing the overall treatment capacity. So, when you’re talking about the USA alone, normal wastewater treatment consumes about 32 billion kilowatts of electricity and releases 21 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses per year (based on 2015 data). With a 10 percent adoption of our technology, we could reduce the cost $150 million and save 1.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses released per year in the USA.
E911: How is it used in animal agriculture operations?
Darrell: We eliminate the storage of raw manure solids in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) by creating a water rich in nutrients and our microbiology. This can be then be used for land application and for plant health and growth. We also eliminate pathogens like E.coli, making it much safer for the animals and people.
Hog production is a big industry, and one of their biggest problems is the odour caused by manure storage. This is especially an important issue when the odour reaches their neighbours as this can lead to permit violations and excessive fines. We eliminate the odour, and simultaneously stop production of H2S gas*, nitrous oxide** and methane**. Hog operations commonly put the animals on slatted boards, and all the fecal matter gets pressed through and falls into a pit below where it is stored for months at a time. All those flammable and toxic gases build up so the farmers use huge exhaust fans to draw off the gas. As you can imagine, if H2S levels are too high, it can be deadly to the hogs and to workers. Methane is highly flammable and explosive if allowed to build up. Management of the atmosphere inside the barns is very costly and failure to properly manage damages the health of animals and people.
*Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) is a highly odourous, toxic and corrosive gas commonly found in wastewater treatment and utility facilities and sewers.
**Methane gas is 25 times while nitrous oxide is 298 times more harmful in Greenhouse Gases than carbon dioxide.
E911: How are you getting rid of the odours?
Darrell: The EDS-Di unit produces the active microbiology on-site to go after and destroy the odour-causing bacteria as we adapt it to the specific application.
E911: What is the ultimate goal of using EnBiorganic microbiology?
Darrell: We’re bringing out the best in nature—nature at its best, we like to say. In time, as we get our technology out there, our goal is to impact the current farming practices, and to have farmers realize they can substantially reduce or end the need for chemicals. Instead, farmers can use soil microbiology like it’s always been designed and nature provides. Our solution regenerates the soil microbiome using only soil microbiology that is completely safe and sustainable. Our microbes are ubiquitous—found everywhere on earth.
Darrell: Yes! Our technology is two-fold when it comes to this. We are able to treat the waste produced by livestock – Eliminating the odour, sludge, etc. Once that is done, what’s left is a nutrient-rich solution. Our microbiology converts waste into large quantities of our microbes and recovers the nutrients so they can be land-applied to restore the natural soil microbiome.
Our microbes also end the accumulation of glyphosate in soil. Glyphosates are powerful chemicals intended to kill and prevent weeds in farming. There are many documented health concerns about glyphosates for farmers and the impact on our lakes and streams from runoff.
Our microbiology removes the glyphosate accumulation in the soil, which stops it from running off into the surrounding water systems. This is an important added benefit of the overall technology.
E911: How are these traditional, chemical-centric farming techniques affecting our water systems?
Darrell: We see the symptoms of these farming practices showing up in our surface waters, so we’re chasing these unsustainable practices further upstream. We remedy them at the source. Then problems downstream like Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) and other surface water problems will begin to disappear.
E911: What exactly are HABS?
Darrell: Harmful Algae Blooms, also known as cyanobacteria, or sometimes called blue-green algae. Public Health agencies often shut down whole lakes because the blooms get so toxic. Our microbiology will outcompete the cyanobacteria, which is the cause of harmful algae blooms. Lots of people are trying to use algae to make something suitable out of it—the thing people don’t understand is when using mechanical means to capture the blue green algae, this causes more release of its toxins: neurotoxins, liver toxins and so on. Our microbiology consumes and gets rid of the toxins.
E911: How does the process work in a lake?
Darrell: We use our patent-pending process to adapt our microbiology to whatever the water needs to restore the health of the lake. Once our microbes are ready they are released back into the lake water in a high concentration knowing they’re exact mission.
E911: What are some of the lakes and projects you’re working on?
Darrell: We’re working with Saskatchewan parks to remediate a lake in Cypress Hill Interprovincial Park in 2021. They have been struggling with toxins and cyanobacteria and we have the solution to their problem.
E911: Have you been working on any international projects?
Darrell: We continue to promote our technology. We have several demonstrations under-way in the US and have been working with engineering firms for the remediation of HAB. We have units placed at small municipalities, in the US, solving their compliancy problems. And, we are currently demonstrating our patent pending process at a hog farm in Iowa.
E911: Where are we at today?
Darrell: Today our environment is in a poor state and we need to make a change. When the soil is healthy, it has the power to help fix climate change and the related problems we’re having. It’s cyclical, based on the carbon cycles within the earth. Our company will help bring balance to the amount of carbon dioxide CO2 in our atmosphere. Without carbon dioxide, which is what the plants require to produce oxygen, we would not have plants or oxygen.
Plants do capture carbon. Plants take CO2 out of the air, releasing oxygen. However, the carbon release from the soil over the years, from commercial chemical-centric farming practices, has damaged the soil microbiome. This has heavily contributed to climate change. When the soil is healthy, with balanced microbiology, it retains carbon and creates nitrogen for plants in the soil without chemical addition. And, it will naturally make the existing phosphorous in the soil available to plants.
Because of chemical-centric farming practices, we are faced with unhealthy soil unable to sequester CO2 or provide nutrients to the plants. This creates a vicious cycle of requiring more chemicals – a totally unsustainable situation.
E911: How accessible is this technology. Can it be used on a global scale in the future?
Darrell: Absolutely. The soil microbiology we use in our technology is Bacillus. It’s all-natural! There are no chemicals involved, whatsoever, and it’s found in the soil. Our end game is to make the soil healthy and productive. Even soil, unproductive in recent history, can be made productive.
We want to sustain the industries of today without compromising the Earth’s ability to provide the resources for the future. Necessary industries must continue, but if we don’t want to change or manage things differently…well…there’s not much time left. Either we’re going to sustainably manage the Earth’s resources, in Nature’s balance, or the foreseeable end is already written.
To learn more about soil microbiology and the impact of soil on climate change, Darrell recommends watching the new documentary on Netflix titled Kiss the Ground—we highly recommend it too!