Startup Kula Bio raised $10m in seed funding at the end of May this year, positioning itself as a key competitor to traditional fertiliser products.
Nitrogen is a key ingredient for any fertiliser program and our current food industry relies on synthetic versions of the nutrient – with Kula Bio estimating around 90% of fertiliser used by farmers globally are synthetic. These are typically deployed in high quantities – with the excess causing damage to the surrounding ecosystem through runoff and dissipation. With awareness of the impacts of these products growing, there is the possibility of governments imposing regulations around their use – or even banning them altogether. Emerging companies such as Kula Bio and Pivot Bio are stepping up to fill this market gap.
Kula Bio’s technology is based on work initially carried out at Harvard University – looking into the creation of a non-GMO nitrogen biofertiliser called ‘Kula-N’. This biofertiliser is applied to crops using existing irrigation systems, and sits in the soil only releasing nitrogen when needed. As such it’s a more targeted and efficient solution that avoids the problem of excess product damaging the surrounding environment. In addition, these bacteria ‘fix’ not only the nitrogen but also carbon dioxide in the soil – increasing soil carbon levels when they die and aiding farmers’ carbon sequestration efforts.
Founded in 2018, Kula believes its microbes can replace up to 80% of synthetic nitrogen use, and has already received an impressive array of investors including Lowercarbon Capital, Embark Ventures and The Nature Conservancy, among others.
In a statement, CEO Bill Brady says the capital will be used to make “key hires focused on operations, sales, marketing, agronomy, and R&D”.
“Additionally, we’re in the process of developing our first pilot manufacturing site. We are intensifying our efforts to get our product to more hardworking farmers and continue to push the agricultural industry to a more sustainable future,” he added.