Does business need the Ukrainian science?
Since Independence, 25 thousand scientists left our country. The fact that Ukraine is experiencing a significant "brain drain" abroad is no longer an eventual risk, but sad reality. Ukrainian scientists flee and settle in Europe, America and Russia. They do not feel that their achievements are required by the state and do not see demand for their inventions. However, it is not the case everywhere. It is extremely pleasant to see that currently there are companies in the Ukrainian market willing to invest and do investing in research, and collaborate with scientists at real applications and tasks, not interfering with the freedom of creativity.
Vladyslav, tell us please, what is your company business?
BTU - CENTER is the manufacturer of microbial biopreparations. We have registered more than 50 patents in the field of agriculture. We operate in the oil and gas industry, medicine, crop and livestock production. The company top products include the bioactivator line, destructors, bioinoculants, micronutrients, chemical fertilizers, biostickers etc. Our biological products are sold in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Bulgaria, Lithuania etc.
What’s the place of science in the production?
The company has its own production facilities and modern certified laboratories. Each biological agent is the result of studying the market needs, profound analysis of the previous research achievements and failures, and selection of the new ways to overcome the same. However, the most important thing is to determine the opportunity of a competent combination of our developments and processes occurring in plants and soil. Before we release the agent, we conduct its comprehensive study, including the selection of the most active strain of useful microorganisms, check its harmlessness, and study its growth properties for scaling and production of industrial batches; the agent formulation is developed with high quality performance, wherefore the its effectiveness is tested, and the best storage conditions and shelf life is determined.
Our team includes the professionals with 30 years of experience in microbiology. These include the awardees of the State Prize of Ukraine in science and technology, doctors and PhDs in agricultural, industrial, life sciences, certified microbiologists, engineers, technicians, mechanics, biochemists and agronomists.
Do you mean you only use your own scientific resources?
No. We are also cooperating with many research institutions. These are the institutes of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Zabolotnyi Institute of Microbiology and Virology, Institute of Plant Protection in Kyiv, Institute of Agriculture in Chabany settlement, Institute of Vegetables and Melons in Selektsiyne village, V.Y. Yuriev Plant Institute in Kharkiv, Institute of Oilseeds in Zaporizhzhia, Rice Institute in Skadovsk, Institute of Agriculture of the Black Sea Region, Khlibodarske, leading national agrarian universities in Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv, and Uman, and public agricultural experimental stations at Volyn Institute of Agriculture of the Western Woodlands, Khmelnytskyi Institute of Feed and Agriculture of Podillia, Samchyky village and others. In general, we maintain partnerships with more than 10 research institutions. The company provided the basis for writing of 15 PhDs’ and 2 doctoral theses. Every year we start over 100 field studies, share the knowledge at scientific conferences, and publish the research findings in scientific journals. Only in 2017, we started 142 field and 58 scientific researches.
Do you collaborate with international scientific institutions?
Our products have been certified by Organic Standard, the organic product certification body, recognized in the EU and Switzerland. Also, we cooperate with FIBL Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and others. Thus, science and business together do the great things!
How much time does it take to your scholars to develop a new agent?
First, we conduct the laboratory researches, select the most active strains of microorganisms, and test their combination in different concentrations. Consequently, we choose several most effective combinations and transfer them for testing to research institutions in different regions of Ukraine. At this stage, they are dealt with by independent microbiologists and biochemists. Where the research result is satisfactory, the agent is sent for field experiments; if we realize that something can be improved, we sent the agent for fine-tuning to our laboratories. During field experiments, we test the effective application rates, analyze various biometric indicators, and look at the condition of plants and, of course, productivity. After that, we draw the conclusions and dispatch the drug for registration.
Over the past five years, we have explored more than 200 microbiological samples throughout Ukraine. To choose the most effective ones, we explore the models on various types of soil and in different climatic conditions. Certainly, all this takes time. Usually, the drug study takes about three years before the market launch.
What products has your team developed lately?
This year, we introduced several new products, namely potassium humate, Humifriend, and mycorrhizal drug, Mycofriend.
Humifriend contains potassium salts of humic and fulvic acids, amino acids, macro and micronutrients, succinic acid, peptides, polysaccharides, and microorganism spores. We manufacture potassium humates based on leonarditis. Humifriend improves the plant vigor and germination, prolongs the effect of biological and chemical agents, stimulates the plant growth, improves the plant nutrition, increases drought resistance and cold resistance, improves the plant yield and quality of the resulting product, which is confirmed by experiments.
Mycofriend promotes colonization of the root and the root zone with mycorrhizal fungi and saprophytes, as well as rhizospheric bacteria. In the course of photosynthesis, the plant roots accumulate the carbohydrates which the plant shares with fungus. In turn, the fungus, colonizing the roots, acts as a mediator between plants and soil. While growing, mycelium is able to increase the volume of the total root absorption capacity thousands of times. Thus, it provides nutrition and water even during the extreme drought. Also, the fungus protects the plant with its own secretions and blocks the penetration of root-pathogenic fungi. We have developed Mycofriend for cereals, corn, soybeans and fruit crops.
How does the science help in business development? Is it effective?
I assure you, that it is very effective. First, we have not only practical, but also scientific evidence of our biological agent quality. Not every company can boast this. Second, it helps us to hear the farmers’ needs. Since we have our own scientific base and strain museum, we can choose the technologies both for the widely used and for niche crops, namely chickpeas, beans, lentils, lupine, beans etc.
We have been present in the market for 19 years. More than 2 million arable land in Ukraine is handled using our agents. So, you can judge our effectiveness yourself.
Is it easy to find competent professionals?
Well, the competent experts are worth their weight in gold. However, the long-standing relationship with our partners in science and industry from top scientific institutions come to the rescue. We can perform joint research on a contractual basis, get advice, and learn the others’ experience. The PhDs, professors and very experienced experts in their field cooperate with us as agronomists, consultants and dealers. We are open to all those who, like us, are committed to the land fertility, public health and environment. However, the main thing is that we gladly accept and teach youth to do our business, as well as learn from them to apply the new creative approaches to business. Thus we rejuvenate our team, and try to be on the crest of time.
Vladyslav, thank you for an interesting conversation. After talking to you, we acquired the hope that the future Ukrainian science still exists, and that it is required for the business sector. We wish success and prosperity to your company, keep it coming!
Thank you very much!