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OPN Connect Newsletter 319 · May 11, 2023

Terreplenish: A Liquid Microbial Soil Amendment with Many Benefits for Growers


Founded in 2012 by Cathy Scratch, Feed Earth Now is the parent company of Terreplenish, a liquid microbial soil amendment created from green waste.

“We’ve tested Terreplenish on over 100 different crop types and have found our unique free-living consortium of microbes rapidly restores soil organic matter and water-holding capacity,” said Scratch. “In addition, it controls pathogens, fixes nitrogen, and loosens up legacy phosphates for plant uptake, effectively eliminating runoff that leaches into waterways from petrol chemicals creating algae blooms and dead zones in the waterways.”

Cal Organic May 2024

Cathy Scratch, Founder, Feed Earth Now

Terreplenish is OMRI Listed and approved by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for organic production; it is also a USDA Certified Biobased Product.

Feed Earth Now (FEN) takes unusable produce from places like farms, grocery stores, and produce distribution facilities and then adds a proprietary microbial additive to create Terreplenish. With nitrogen-fixing and phosphate-solubilizing bacteria, Terreplenish is able to absorb atmospheric nitrogen and free up phosphorus from insoluble compounds. Nitrogen-fixing occurs as soon as Terreplenish is applied to a crop—and it increases over time as the microbes multiply.

“We’ve tested Terreplenish on over 100 different crop types and have found our unique free-living consortium of microbes rapidly restores soil organic matter and water-holding capacity.” - Cathy Scratch

Earthbound Farms May 2024

“The positive planetary impact of regenerating our soil with microbes from food that no one eats is massive,” said Scratch. “Plus, Terreplenish pulls one-third of the much-needed fertilizer for agricultural crops from the air versus requiring it to be manufactured in large factories utilizing CO2-emitting fossil fuels.” 

Terreplenish’s benefits include improved plant quality and yields; enhanced soil microbe populations; increased nitrogen availability; pest and disease prevention; and better soil water absorption and retention.

“Not all soil microbes are alike. In general, microbes will outcompete each other until the dominant strain dies off,” said Ron Doetch, FEN’s senior agronomist and managing partner of Solutions in the Land. “What makes Terreplenish stand out in the crowded space of microbials is because it’s a consortium of indigenous microbes that work well together; in other words, they play well in the sandbox.”

Driscolls May 2024

In 2014, Feed Earth Now was awarded a grant to build an industrial-scale plant to produce Terreplenish on Doetch’s farm.

“Incidentally, Ron’s farm was surrounded by his brother’s ‘government-subsidized anhydrous ammonia-treated’ soil or mustard dust,” said Scratch. “After just one fall treatment with Terreplenish, there was a definitive line light to dark between the two farms by spring. The microbes worked during the fall and winter fixing nitrogen, and it was clear Ron’s soil was holding water.”

“Not all soil microbes are alike. In general, microbes will outcompete each other until the dominant strain dies off. What makes Terreplenish stand out in the crowded space of microbials is because it’s a consortium of indigenous microbes that work well together.” - Ron Doetch

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In 2019, Mark Gaalswyk, CEO of Easy Energy Systems (EES), developed the Easy FEN Modular Microbe Fertilizer Production System, a machine that can be installed on-site at farms and other locations, so Terreplenish can be produced locally.

Mark Gaalswyk, CEO, Easy Energy Systems

Gaalswyk is also the CEO of Digital Utilities Ventures, which owns a majority stake in Feed Earth Now. In addition, he founded Easy Energy Finance to help growers and other customers finance leases of the Easy FEN.

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The Easy FEN production systems, which are manufactured in the US, are available for both sale and lease.

Mike Bowden, CA manager, EES/FEN/Terreplenish, notes that one of the defining features of Terreplenish is its customizability—it can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a given commodity.

“Because we monitor the systems, we can customize the product that comes out to be best for your crop,” he said. “And we have 24-hour remote monitoring going on if you have one of our FEN production systems in place.”

Since its development in 2012, Terreplenish has been tested by FEN and Doetch, along with other third parties, on more than 100 crops, including apples, avocados, bananas, blueberries, broccoli, carrots, cranberries, grapes, kale, peppers, pumpkins, squash, strawberries, and tomatoes.

“Because we monitor the systems, we can customize the product that comes out to be best for your crop.” - Mike Bowden

In a study on organic broccoli, Doetch found that Terreplenish produced significant benefits. “We applied a foliar treatment to our broccoli crop once a week for six weeks. ... The treated-area heads averaged 3.1 lbs., while the untreated area heads averaged 0.53 lbs. … Visually, there [was] a remarkable difference in the plant size and conformation. ... The treated area [was] equivalent to 4.65 tons per acre, definitely on the high side for organic production on a dry year, or any year."

While not classified as a biopesticide or biofungicide, Terreplenish does offer pest and disease protection via both soil and foliar applications. Studies have shown it to be effective in preventing powdery mildew, downy mold, Sclerotina (dollar spot), Botrytis, and Fusarium wilt.

"We used Terreplenish as a foliar spray on blueberries as well as [on] many of my vegetable crops and immediately saw that a well-timed spray raised the brix of our plant sap by two degrees within 24 hours of application,” said Jason Berry of Blueberry Farms of Georgia/Sunnyridge Farm. “This effect not only means increased sugar production but higher mineral levels in the leaf, which in turn makes the plants less susceptible to pest pressure.”

Bowden said Feed Earth Now is happy to provide growers complimentary samples of Terreplenish and can also arrange free test trials. “We’ll give you field testing—side-by-side testing,” he said. “We just want to get the word out to growers that Terreplenish offers a solution to problems they may have.”

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