Innovative Natural Fertilizer and Pesticide Solutions for Multiple Crops
This profile is part of a paid investor education campaign.*
MustGrow Biologics Corp. is an agricultural biotech company focused on developing and commercializing its unique natural biofumigant that acts as a fertilizer, nematocide and fungicide. Targeting the fruit and vegetable and the cannabis industries, MustGrow has designed an organic solution that uses the mustard seed’s natural defence mechanisms to protect plants from pests and diseases.
Brassica plants, a genus within the mustard family, have been found to have organic compounds that can positively benefit agricultural production. As Canada produces 28 percent of the global mustard crop, MustGrow has access to a vast source of its base material.
Making use of the plant’s applications, the MustGrow product has been tested on fruit and vegetables in 110 different trials and has been proven to protect the plant from a number of soil borne fungal diseases and pests including nematodes, fusarium, verticillium, and pythium. MustGrow is also potentially effective in preventing a number of other soil borne pests and diseases, including spider mites and gnats.
Moving beyond the fruit and vegetable sphere, the company is looking to ascertain its product’s potential as a pre-plant soil sterilizer for cannabis crops that can remove any pre-existing insects or funghi. As the cannabis market in North America continues its exponential growth spurred by legalization of medicinal cannabis and (in some states) the recreational market, the industry is becoming an exciting market opportunity for MustGrow’s natural and organic product.
Having first created a granular product, MustGrow is now developing a liquid version that can be easily delivered to plants via existing drip systems. Once completed, this new form of the product will have to be tested again to confirm its efficacy. The company plans to start this testing in 2018.
MustGrow is led by a management team that brings extensive experience in the biotechnology and agriculture fields. As it looks towards entering the cannabis industry, it has brought on strategic board members like Tom Flow. Flow is the founder and president of The Flowr Corporation, a Health Canada approved cannabis facility partnered with Scotts Miracle Gro, a large supplier of soil and grow materials playing a role in the cannabis sector. Flow also built MedReleaf in 2014, which is one of Canada’s most profitable licensed producers with a $1 billion market cap.
- Proprietary natural, organic biofumigation solution for addressing pests and diseases in cannabis, and fruit and vegetable crops
- 110 trials conducted in fruit and vegetables, determining protection from a number of soil borne pets and fungal diseases including nematodes, pythium and fusarium.
- ETA approval across all key US states as a fertilizer and pesticide (currently limited to fertilizer in California)
- Health Canada designation as a fruit and vegetable fertilizer and pesticide
- Developing liquid format of tested product in response to market demand
- Growing global biopesticide crop protection market potentially worth $7 billion by 2019
- Planned CSE listing
- Experienced management team supported by director Tom Flow, who brings vast cannabis sector experience
A key success factor for crop production is tied with protecting plants from pests and diseases that have the capacity to bring down the whole crop. With this in mind, MustGrow has designed and developed a granular pre-plant soil biofumigant based on non-synthetic AITC (allyl isothiocyanate) from mustard seed.
Having first developed it as a granular product, the company is now responding to market demands and designing a liquid concentrate delivery platform, which will allow producers to deliver the solution at a much more concentrated level through drip irrigation and via shanking. Having already conducted extensive testing of its granular product, the company plans on using 2018 to finalize its liquid formulation. In parallel, the company will also test the applicability of MustGrow’s products as a natural pre-plant soil treatment for the cannabis industry.
Fruit and vegetable market
Traditional solutions for fertilizers and pesticides in the fruit and vegetable market have faced significant industry shifts in the last few years. Consumer demand has shifted towards organic and natural products, with particular interest in a reduction of the amount of pesticides used in crops. These environmental and health pressures by consumers have resulted in regulators restricting or outlawing existing synthetic chemical solutions that might be harmful to consumers.
One example of a particularly harmful pest is the nematode, which has affected crops on a global scale. Producing an average yield loss of between 10 percent and 20 percent for the cultivations it affects, soil-borne nematodes result in approximately $80 billion in losses worldwide. Despite the costly effects of this pest, there is a growing trend for regulators to take aggressive stances against nematicides, leaving a gap in the market for natural solutions like MustGrow.
Following the development of its granular MustGrow product, the company spent approximately $9 million to conduct 110 trials on fruit and vegetables. This testing demonstrated that the product is capable of mitigating conditions such as pythium, rhizoctonia, verticillium, fusarium and nematodes. It can also potentially assist in reducing spider mites, aphids, thrips, fungus gnats, grey mold and other fungal pathogens.
Addressing the cannabis industry
Like any other crop, cannabis plants are prone to pests and diseases that can spread at a rapid rate. Despite ongoing growth in the market, there are no established guidelines or regulations for pesticide use. This, alongside a lack of insight into what bags of soil might host, has left licensed producers to manage pesticides at their own discretion, and oftentimes they use more than is usually allowed for edible or consumable products.
Excessive pesticide use is particularly problematic in concentrate extraction—which is done for the production of edibles, topical products and inhalants—as pesticide residues can accumulate up to ten times more than the flower itself. Issues around pesticide tainting have led patients who unknowingly consumed banned pesticides to propose class-action suits against licensed cannabis producers.
Working towards mitigating the problems linked to the cannabis space while adhering to the direction in which Health Canada is heading for pesticide control, MustGrow is working toward developing a reliable, safe and biodegradable solution that adheres to current regulations. MustGrow is positioning its product as an effective pre-plant soil reducing the chance for any added soil to bring in pests or diseases.
The company expects that its pesticide / fertilizer will help licensed producers control the same conditions addressed in fruit and vegetable crops, and will also potentially help control for pests such as hemp mites. To prove this, MustGrow plans to run cannabis soil trials, which will be conducted by infecting the soil and applying the product to determine its efficacy. Following this, the company will apply for Health Canada approval for use on cannabis plants, having already received approval for fruits and vegetables.
Brad Munro, BComm—Chairman
Brad Munro has spent over 20 years as a VP, Investments with a national venture capital firm where he sourced, invested, and managed the activity of over 30 companies and invested $150MM. He has also served as a director of over 20 public companies and a greater number of private enterprises since 1993. Currently, he is the chairman and interim CEO of Zedcor Energy Service and Director of Secure Energy Services.
Corey Giasson, MBA, BSc—President, CEO and Director
Corey Giasson has over 20 years of agriculture experience and B.Sc. Ag Economics from the University of Saskatchewan. He was previously co-founder, president, CEO & director of Rallyemont Energy Inc, which identified 140 MMbbls of recoverable heavy oil and sold to Husky Energy in 2013. Another previous role was that of vice president, business development & investor relations at Anglo Potash Ltd., which was sold to BHP in 2008. He was also once a manager of market research at PotashCorp.
Tom Flow is the founder and current president of The Flowr Corporation. He is also the founder and builder of MedReleaf in 2014, Canada’s most profitable licensed producer (current market cap of over $1 billion). He is an advisor to Plant Properties, a REIT focusing on cannabis operations. He is widely-recognised for cannabis thought leadership and expertise building and operating cannabis cultivation facilities.
Colin Bletsky, BSA—Director
Colin Bletsky was a previous vice president, BioAg at Novozymes where he is responsible for the BioAg business worldwide. He has over 20 years of experience in agriculture, he has been involved in marketing and sales in many managerial positions. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan.
Matt Kowalski is the principal of Stronghold Keep Inc. He is also the co-owner of the Kowaltek Restaurant Group and a director at VRM Labs. His past experience includes having been president and CEO at Natural Industries from 2002 to 2012, as well as global market manager at Bio Control, Novozymes BioAg.
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