Pure Life Carbon Soil Additive Tech Increasing Plant Yields and Preventing Crop Loss
Pure Life Carbon VP of Strategy Gary Symons joins Midas Letter to discuss how the company uses a soil additive which produces higher yields and prevents less crop loss. Pure Life Carbon produces premium biochar – used as a soil amendment for both carbon sequestration which has a variety of soil health benefits. The UN Panel on Climate Change has said that biochar is the only technology currently available that can viably reduce the impact of global warming. Mr. Symons compares using biochar to other methods currently in use within the industry, particularly rockwool, from a cost, efficiency, and advantages standpoint. The company calculated roughly a 47 percent increase in yield using their technology, which would result in increased revenue, increased profit, and a much lower cost production.
James West: Gary Symons joins me now. He’s the VP of Strategy of Pure Life Carbon, Inc. Gary, welcome.
Gary Symons: Thank you very much, and thanks for having me.
James West: Gary, a quick overview: tell me what is Pure Life Carbon all about?
Gary Symons: Well, literally about carbon, as the name would indicate. We essentially produce a form of biochar, an advanced form of biochar. And to explain what biochar is, it’s essentially a soil amendment that has been used for thousands of years. It was used by the Incas and the Mayans way back in ancient times, and it fell out of favour as petrochemical, you know, nutrients and that kind of thing came to the fore.
So what we’ve done, essentially, is we have created a biochar that isn’t just a soil amendment; it can be used in soil that’s growing. So for example, if you’re growing a cannabis crop in Canada, which is becoming increasingly popular, obviously, then you could substitute something like rockwool or peat moss, or what’s called Coco Coir, with our biochar, and there’s a number of advantages to that.
You tend to get higher yields, you get less crop loss. It also stores carbon, so when you’re done with it, you can actually use it as a soil amendment, put it into the soil, and it will not only, you know, improve that soil, but it will also store carbon dioxide, which, you know, improves the global warming situation. And in fact, the UN Panel on Climate Change has said that biochar is the only technology currently available that can viably reduce the impact of global warming.
James West: Mm-hmm. Interesting. So I’m obviously going to try this out as soon as I can, because I’m growing my regulation permitted four plants, and I’m growing it in Coco Coir, and so, that’s going to be an interesting experiment. Now, there are reasons that big sort of cannabis companies should be looking at this, and foremost amongst them is the environmental cost of using things like particularly rockwool. And maybe you could outline how the cost of using rockwool compares with the cost of using your product, compares over the longer term?
Gary Symons: Sure. So for example, we’ve been working with a facility in Alberta. They’ve put our product into their facility and side by side with rockwool. Now, the rockwool costs them somewhere around, you know, $9 or $10 per plant; our costs about $12 per plant, all in. The biggest difference, though, is in the ease of use. Ours is easier to use, in general. The fact that rockwool really, in Canada, you dispose of it. You know, it’s going to go to the landfill and it’s going to take up a lot of space, it’s not going to degrade, and so it becomes a bit of an environmental hassle right now.
Ours, on the other hand, you can send it back to us, we will process it, and it can be reused completely, not just recycled, but reused. So that takes care of one problem. The other thing, too, is of course, the sequestering of carbon, which is a net positive, and would probably help you down the road with your carbon tax credits, which really cannabis companies aren’t getting, right now.
But the big thing is that just in terms of yield, we’re seeing really impressive gains with yield. So for example, in that one facility, we saw roughly about 13 percent on average yield increase per plant for flower, which of course is the important part. In addition, the plants were ready for harvest sooner, and according to the grower, about two to three weeks sooner than, you know, with the standard rockwool blend. And so what that means in terms of increased yield, when we calculated it out, was about 23 percent increase in yield just for that.
And we calculated roughly about a 47 percent increase in yield for that particular facility, and that obviously means increased revenue, increased profit, and a much lower cost production. So those are pretty solid reasons to make a switch.
James West: Yeah, especially when I think that the cost per unit to establish a plant does not, generally, include the cost of disposal of things that are ultimately toxic, like rockwool. So that, to me, makes it very attractive. Now, are there any downsides to this stuff relative to the incumbent favourites – rockwool, lava, Coco Coir?
Gary Symons: Not really. I mean, Coco, interestingly enough, the same people that were behind Coco in the beginning are the same people that helped develop this technology. And you know, Coco has some advantages, for sure; it’s very lightweight, it doesn’t have as serious an impact on the environment, but it’s not a sterile medium, and that’s the big difference between Coco and then rockwool and biochar. You know, biochar and rockwool are both sterile mediums, and that’s why people have been switching to them.
But again, with rockwool, you do have these disposal issues, and in Europe, it’s pretty highly regulated. You know, they’re a much more crowded environment in Europe; they also have a lot more greenhouse growing. For example, the Netherlands has so much greenhouse growing that that small country is the second-largest exporter of food in the world by dollar value.
So they have a lot of rockwool to dispose of, and they basically have to recycle it, find some way to reuse it. And often, they will just ship it out; it has to be made into things like, something similar to a concrete block or into insulation, things like that, all of which is adding to the cost of using rockwool.
Ours, on the other hand, is just completely reusable. And that really is one of the major differences.
James West: Sure, okay. Can you tell me as much as you can without giving away any company secrets, as to how is this carbon block made? Or this charred carbon, how do you make it? What are the inputs, what are the environmental impacts of producing that itself?
Gary Symons: I am going to be, unfortunately, quite cagey. I hate to say that, but I am going to be a bit cagey. But essentially, in very general terms, we take biomass of a type that we don’t even talk about. We then use a process called pyrolysis, which is essentially, we heat it in an anaerobic or, in other words, an environment without oxygen. So we heat it, and then it turns into something that looks a lot like charcoal.
Now, there’s biochar and there’s biochar. Ours is made so that it’s very hard and it does not degrade, and to think of it, think of plastic, for example. You know, there’s lots of kinds of plastic. On the one hand, you could have a space-age plastic that is very hard, that you could use to make the exterior of, say, an automobile. And then you have, for example, Styrofoam. Two very different plastics. Same thing with biochar. Some biochars are very soft, they degrade very quickly; think of, say, charcoal in a campfire. You know, you pour water on it, it just turns into mush.
This particular biochar is so hard that it can endure for over 1,000 years, and it can reused over that period. It can be re-sterilized and then, you know, recharged with nutrients or probiotics, depending on the use, and then put back into action, either in the soil or even in a soil-less medium growing situation again.
Now, what we do after the initial biochar is made, we run it through a purification process, essentially taking out any possible heavy metals or anything like that, and then finally, we charge it with various things. So if certain nutrients are required within, say, a greenhouse growing environment, we add that to the biochar.
Biochar is interesting, too. Think of it as sort of a hard sponge; it has a – you know, to give you an idea, a square metre of our material has 10,000 acres of surface area. So it can hold a great deal of water and a great deal of nutrients in a very small amount.
James West: Okay, and finally, how can investors participate in this company should they determine that this is an appropriate investment for themselves?
Gary Symons: This is a very early-stage investment. It’s a private company; this is a private placement. We’re currently working with a group, it’s actually a group of farmers that have their own fund, so it’s a large group of farmers that have their own fund. And they’ve committed essentially about 1.5 million. We’re filling out the rest of the $1 million in a $2.5 million round, and essentially any investor, who would have to be accredited, by the way, or an institutional investor, or somebody of that nature – because it is a private placement – could just contact me personally, and I’m kind of guiding that charge.
James West: Okay, great. Gary, that’s a great introduction to the company and the product. I will look forward to using it, and we’ll talk to you again soon before you go public. Thanks for joining me today.
Gary Symons: Absolutely. Thank you so much.
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