International Zeolite Corp. (TSXV: IZ) (OTCQB: IZCFF) (FSE: ZEON) (the “Company”) an international marketer and supplier of natural zeolite and zeolite products, is pleased to announce the start of Phase I of its field research program with Ichaana Indo-Can Zeolite as partner and Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (“PJTSAU”) based in Hyderabad, India. This is a key step toward completion of the previously announced acquisition of Ichaana by the Company, wherein Ichaana must develop a commercial market for the Company’s zeolite in India.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Ichaana and PJTSAU, the Company’s zeolite will undergo comprehensive testing for several commercial applications for use in water soluble fertilizers, particularly with nitrogenous fertilizers. The research design and implementation protocols are concentrated initially on the usage of zeolite for the optimum absorption of Urea, a water-soluble nitrogenous fertilizer. Phase I of this program will focus on rice paddy crops — addressing the efficacy and efficiency of nutrient delivery with an objective of optimization of Urea usage in Indian agriculture.
In India, Urea receives significant government subsidy for use in the agricultural sector. Annual consumption of approximately 32 million tonnes has a domestic retail value of approximately US$3 billion. The Indian Nitrogen Group has reported that only 33% to 35% of Urea is used by the plant and the rest is lost due to leaching or evaporation and run-off of soils, resulting in ground water pollution which is a notable environmental issue in the agricultural sector throughout India. Estimates of the economic costs on loss of effective Urea utilization rates in India range between US$1.6-billion to US$1.8-billion annually.
Ray Paquette, CEO stated, “The relationship formed between the Company, Ichaana and PJTSAU is a significant step towards commercialization of our zeolite in the international agricultural sector. We believe that our zeolite has the potential to bring both significant financial and economic benefits while addressing environmental pollution issues in the usage of nitrogen fertilizers in India.”
According to the MOU, the University will conduct and manage the research projects; while the study data, research design, results and outcomes will remain the exclusive property of Ichaana and International Zeolite. PJTSAU will present the Company with a formal report of research results and will provide necessary information and support in obtaining required permits and clearances from relevant Indian authorities for commercialization of the zeolite-based products.
The objective of the research being conducted by PJTSAU is to test the potential usage of natural zeolites in the Indian agricultural sector with an aim of understanding utility optimization of water-soluble fertilizers, moisture conservation and the evaporation index in different soils within the country’s geographically vast agricultural sector. Through this research, the impact of zeolite usage is to be fully evaluated for agronomic, economic, social and environmental benefits of improved nutrient management practices in commercial crops such as paddy (rice), cotton, chilies, maize, farming produce and horticulture under variable soil and climatic conditions.
Inherent properties of zeolites include: Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) which increases soil nutrient holding capacity due to its open framework and porous crystal structure. Its water retention capacity is 60% to 70% of its body weight. Contrary to fertilizers, zeolites are nutrient-intake regulators that act as a natural aid of increasing retention of water soluble fertilizers for long periods while preventing de-leaching, dehydration and run-off of soils. Zeolites promote maximum efficiency of fertilizer utilization through the slow release of nutrients to the plant.
The main fertilizers used in Indian agriculture include nitrogenous fertilizers, potash, phosphate and complex fertilizers. India is the third largest producer and second largest consumer of fertilizers in the world. The total fertilizer market in India is expected to reach a value of US$34-billion in 2019. The Indian agriculture sectors contribution is approximately 17% of the nation’s US$2 trillion economy. Therefore, positive results of the research through usage of natural zeolite have the potential to significantly improve economics of the Indian agricultural sectors.