Around 2012-13, Dr Salim Channiwala, an engineer who worked as a director at Sardar Vallabhai National Institute of Technology in Surat, was left deeply impacted when he lost four relatives to cancer. Reports suggested that the illness had been triggered by a heavy dose of chemicals and pesticides in vegetables.
Moved by the incident, Dr Salim, who had been in this profession since 1981, decided to address the issue of food toxicity. He vowed to work towards a cause that would benefit the health of the masses, and decided to ensure that no chemical substance is used in agriculture. And making an effective organic fertiliser was a feasible move.
Despite being a graduate in mechanical engineering from IIT-Bombay, Dr Salim put years of research and study to conceive a bio-organic liquid fertiliser made from biogas slurry, which is more effective than its chemical counterpart. He says the organic feed for plants provides 20% more production, and sells at 20% cheaper than chemical fertilisers in the market. So far, 400 farmers from Gujarat, Maharashtra and neighbouring areas have benefitted from the same.
Engineering a bio-organic fertiliser
Recalling his journey with The Better India, Dr Salim says, “Watching my relatives struggle and then ultimately losing them pained me. After learning about the role that toxic chemicals had to play in their deaths, I decided to bring a healthier solution for both the soil, as well as humans.”
He read scientific journals, and referred to research material to understand the fundamentals of organic fertilisers and plant nutrients. “I had no background in environmental science and soil health. I learned the concepts of nitrogen fixation, the importance of potassium, role of microbes and other aspects responsible for a healthy life in the soil,” he says.
Salim adds that he learned about biogas, slurry and the valuable nutrients in them. “I realised that slurry is rich in nutrients, but it lacked concentration of certain micronutrients required for the growth of the plant. Hence, I focused on enriching the nutrition value in slurry,” he explains.
“I kept looking for organic substances that were easy to digest by plants and soil. Moreover, all the nutrients needed to be in the right proportion and work effectively and at par with chemical fertilisers. I experimented with 49 different nutrients between 2017 and 2020, and narrowed it down to 16 micronutrients,” he says, adding that the micronutrients, when mixed with biogas slurry in the right proportions, yield a high performing, nutrient-rich liquid bio-organic fertiliser.
“It contains around 9% of organic carbon, microbes and minerals including magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. The field trials proved this. In the latest report, the vegetables grown with the bio-organic fertiliser showed an absence of 263 toxic chemicals,” he says.
Dr Salim worked on the formula with a biogas plant owner in Surat, and commercialised the product. “The businessman was generous in letting me experiment and patent all the research work and technology for setting up the plant and producing the bio-organic fertiliser,” he says.
Health more precious than monetary gains
The bio-organic fertiliser is available as Glow Green Biotech – Glow Liqvitonic, at Rs 65 per litre. Sanjay Bhor, a Nashik-based farmer, says he has been using the liquid bio-organic fertiliser for almost a year now. “I grow beans, lemon, tomato, cauliflower, broccoli and peas. I saved around 30% on my input cost. The quality of vegetables and productivity also increased significantly,” he adds.
Sanjay says that earlier, he practised farming with chemical fertilisers and switched to organic methods after feeling convinced about the product. “Now the workers do not complain about skin irritation as they did with chemical fertilisers. The soil remains soft and retains more moisture than before,” he adds.
Dr Salim, who retired in 2019, has also successfully attempted to create solid fertilisers from the biogas residue and slurry. “I have innovated technology that filters slurry and other biogas waste through 120 membranes. The residue is processed with other nutrients to produce solid fertiliser. I am in the process to finalise the product and commercialise it,” he adds.
“I want more farmers to shift from using chemical fertilisers to organic farming. It is the sole reason the product is offered at a cheaper rate than the chemical ones. The profit margins are negligible, and I want to keep it that way. The health of the masses is more important than monetary gains,” Dr Salim notes.
To order Glow Liqvitonic, call 9712993552.
Edited by Divya Sethu