Soil Dynamics: Recipients of the 2017 premiers Agriculture & Aquaculture entrepreneurship grant

In 2017 Soil Dynamics was one of the five proud recipients of the premiers agriculture and aquaculture entrepreneurship grant, a program which ran over the course of 2018. This was awarded in response to the companies innovative movement into the crop protection industry, and utilised to help fund our research and development into new and improved wraps and wadding utilising nano & microfibre materials to combat insect pests such as garden weevils.

The concept for our innovation came about following preliminary discussions between Soil Dynamics and engineering companies specialised in the development of nano and micro-structured materials by electrohydrodynamic processes. These processes Included both electro spinning and hydrospinning. The outcome of these discussions identified an opportunity for collaboration in the development of these novel fibre-based products. Which, although similar in form to Dacron wraps currently on the market, aimed to provide an improved means of insecticide free and physical protection for grape vines and other food crops.

Unlike current exclusion bands on the market, Soil Dynamics innovation aimed to be more effective due to the fact that current bands are limited via their large diameter fibres and size, which often render them unable to attach to many of the small protrusions found on pest species. In comparison, the utilisation of materials created via the human-made process of nano & microfibre production are much denser than woven products such as fabrics, and are able to be manufactured with differing microstructures. Allowing a better inherent ability to attach to smaller pest protrusions and successfully trap them.

Over the course of the grant the funding generously provided by the state gave our head agronomist Anthony Quinlan the opportunity to travel overseas to both China and Europe in order to meet experts in the field, alongside colleagues specialised in the engineering of these products. Furthermore, it gave Anthony the opportunity to do research into how best to potentially impregnate these fibres with natural insecticides and oils and further improve upon the innovation, whilst also keeping them both safe and effective. At this stage in time the first of our prototype products have been developed and small scale trials have been undertaken, which although show great promise, still require improvement and adaptation in terms of their development before being brought to market.

Soil Dynamics main aim for the future in progressing the innovation is to find potential ways to increase the longevity and durability of the product, as this is the main challenge currently faced when working with such fine materials. Alongside this, the best practice to apply these bands with minimal labour via either an application tool or method is also being investigated, with larger scale trials planned in coming seasons.