Isola — Decision-makers at Consolidated Catfish knew that Native American Indians placed a fish in each hole when planting seeds to feed the plant throughout its life. They also realized that fish was one of the first fertilizers recorded for use in food production. As the distributor of Country Select Catfish, the nation’s oldest and largest catfish processor, it wanted to add value to their core business. As a result of years of research and fine-tuning, it developed a liquid organic fertilizer from catfish and created a subsidiary, Hydrolysate Company of America, to market the product.
In February, Hydrolysate’s MultiBloom all-purpose, all-natural plant food products in ready-to-spray and concentrate form hit store shelves throughout the Kroger chain, considered the world’s largest floral company and one of Consolidated Catfish’s largest customers, and 400 Meier stores from the Midwest to Kentucky.
“The product is superior to any other fish fertilizer because it is an all-natural liquid hydrolysate made from a low-temperature process, thereby preserving nutrients,” said Hydrolysate vice president of operations Frank Davis. “It’s a non-fishy smelling product with a mint scent, a claim that other fish fertilizers cannot make. This organic product benefits growth, disease resistance and soils, and is a superior provider of micro nutrients. We’ve had amazing test results from Mississippi State University. There aren’t many effective organic fertilizers in the market that work well.”
Last fall, Dr. David Tatum, a plant and soil sciences research professor at Mississippi State University, completed a trial test on MultiBloom, which verified the fertilizer could be absorbed through roots or foliage, applied with a spray or drip system, would not clog, nor burn or stripe, ensuring a slow release of nutrients. For example, in a study involving salvia “vista red” using MultiBloom, Ferti-lome, Miracle-Gro and water treatments, the MultiBloom-fertilized plant product saw the most significant growth resulting in dark green leaves and bright red flowers.
“Our 13% protein is unequalled in the fertilizer industry,” said Davis. “The product is made up of 17 amino acids immediately ready for use by plants and grass versus a slow conversion to a usable form with synthetics.”
And the cost of producing the liquid fish fertilizers is not tied to oil prices like conventional fertilizers.
“There is only one fish fertilizer widely retailed today, plus several small regional products available mainly through the Internet and independent sellers,” said Davis. “All current competitive products have a pungent fish odor, must be applied with a bucket and lack product consistency because there’s a variance in raw materials species, such as 100% U.S. farm-raised catfish versus catch-of-the-day.”
Here’s how the unique cold enzymatic process works: after fish is deboned, the muscle protein is removed and separated into a batch tank. After it is reduced with an enzyme, the hydraulic process stabilizes and centrifuges the protein. Once centrifuged, the fertilizer is sifted through a 200-mesh filtering device so it can flow through drip irrigation systems or be applied through a hose end applicator.
Listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute, one of the nation’s strictest organic review agencies, MultiBloom is proven to be environmentally friendly. “It can be applied with no worries to human health and will not compromise local water supplies,” Davis pointed out.
The initial orders of MultiBloom were for 1,000 cases each. First year sales are predicted to reach $300,000 to $500,000. “We’re doing a large quantity of production now, but just a fraction of what we can do in the future,” said David Gray, senior vice president of finance for Hydrolysate.
“The main reason we got into this deal was to add value to our catfish processed here in this plant,” said Gray. “We also wanted to create more value for our producers on the farms. The waste product had been going to pet food producers. What better way to increase the value of the raw product?”
Hydrolysate is also marketing MegaGreen, an all-natural lawn food fortified by pure catfish protein.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at Lynne.Jeter@gmail.com.