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Itaka launches world’s first microbial seed treatment for borage

Agri-TechE Article

Fairking Ltd and Itaka Crop Solution partner on biological programme for high value medicinal crop
An innovative seed treatment of beneficial microorganisms is being applied to borage for the first time, following collaboration between Itaka Crop Solution, leaders in the use of biorationals, and Fairking Ltd, a speciality grower and producer of natural plant oils.

borage microbial seed treatment
Borage is a valuable herb that provides an excellent plant source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA)

KONCIA Borage provides a ‘starter pack’ of microorganisms that would naturally be found in undisturbed soil around the roots of established plants. This area, known as the rhizosphere, supports the resilience and growth of the plant by creating a similar environment from the outset. KONCIA Borage provides bio-stimulation, supporting rapid emergence, strong root development and vigorous development of the plant.
Borage (Borago officinalis) is a valuable herb that provides an excellent plant source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA). This valuable fatty acid is an anti-inflammatory and an important medication for conditions such as arthritis and nerve pain caused by diabetes, and also for skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.
Working with Dutch company De Wit Speciality Oils, Fairking Ltd is one of the biggest producers of borage seeds in the world and has specialist knowledge of its cultivation. It works closely with its growers to ensure a premium product. To support this, it has partnered with Itaka to develop the first microbial seed enhancement for borage.
KONCIA Borage is approved by the Soil Association for use in organic farming. The product is completely natural, and safe for both the environment and the operators.
Itaka Crop Solution is an international leader in the use of beneficial microorganisms and naturally occurring products to boost crop resilience and performance. It has recently established its head office in the UK and KONCIA Borage is the first in a range of seed treatments under development.
Stephen Beal, leading Seed Treatment Strategy and Development at Itaka, comments:
KONCIA Borage is a revolutionary seed treatment containing beneficial organisms which we believe will provide the very best start for the borage crop. A unique combination of microbes will enhance the seed in all conditions producing a more vigorous and healthy crop. By partnering with Fairking Ltd we have created a programme of treatments specifically for this high value crop, boosting its performance.”
Andrew Fairs, CEO of Fairking Ltd, explains: “Borage is the richest plant source of GLA. It is therefore a high value crop. This novel seed treatment will allow rapid establishment of a crop, enhancing its resilience to adverse environmental conditions.”
bee on borage microbial seed treatmentThe rhizosphere is a region of the soil directly around the roots; here sugars and proteins from the roots provide food for beneficial microorganisms including bacteria and fungi, which in return make nutrients from the soil more available to the plant.
An important element of building plant resilience is the creation of a strong root system, it has been found that microorganisms occurring naturally in undisturbed soil stimulate root development. KONCIA Borage offers the same benefit to plants grown in cultivated soil, where the population of microorganisms have been depleted.
KONICA is a novel treatment that coats the seed with a unique formula of beneficial microorganisms including mycorrhizae (glomus intraradices, glomus), and bacteria such as Bacillus sp. and Azotobacter sp. responsible for nitrogen fixation. With a shelf life of many months, it allows sowing to be performed under optimum conditions.
Itaka recommends a programme for borage programme which includes stimulating the presence of microorganisms during entire plant cycle using other solutions from its range. By adhering to this programme the presence of beneficial microorganisms are increased around the roots and leaves, enhancing plant vigour and resilience.

More information about the companies 

Itaka Crop Solution is an international leader in the use of beneficial microorganisms and naturally occurring products to boost crop resilience and performance. By working closely with growers Itaka has developed a programme of natural solutions to enhance the development of a healthy plant. Its products are certified by the Soil Association for use on organic farms but can equally be used by conventional farmers, who want to improve soil health and the vitality of crops.
About Fairking Limited (  is an independent, family run Farming and Seed Merchanting Business based on the Essex/Suffolk border, with a focus on the development of niche crops to bring local variety back to the UK consumer and grower. Having grown, cleaned and traded many of these crops for over 30 years on their own farm, they can offer farmers an opportunity to expand the diversity of their businesses through close links with a number of buyers, providing back-to-back contracts and reducing the volatility in an ever-changing industry.

Harvest offers international springboard for UK agri-tech


Harvest - Alex Fallon and Belinda ClarkeA new trans-Atlantic agreement has been announced between UK membership body Agri-Tech East and Canada’s Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA), promoting mutual opportunities for collaboration as part of an annual trade mission.
Agri-Tech East has been chosen by SREDA as its first international partner for HARVEST, an agri-tech business trade mission that includes introductions to key Saskatchewan-province agriculture companies. In particular, HARVEST assists companies with their travel and accommodation expenses to attend the annual Ag in Motion, the largest outdoor agriculture trade show in Western Canada (16-18 July).

Thriving agri-tech cluster

Agri-Tech East’s 170-strong membership of farmers, producers, technologists and entrepreneurs has created a thriving agri-tech cluster. The HARVEST programme will give these organisations a chance to showcase their products and services to Canadian producers and processors.
The province of Saskatchewan is Canada’s leading agricultural exporter, second largest oil producer and the world’s top potash producer and supplier of uranium. It is Canada’s top grain producing region, with over 40% of Canada’s arable farmland. The agricultural industry added $4.2 billion in provincial GDP in 2016 with a majority in crop production ($3.5B) and animal production ($345M).
In 2018, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership was announced; a five-year, $388 million investment by federal and provincial governments in strategic initiatives for Saskatchewan agriculture. This includes a commitment to enhancing the competitiveness of the sector through research, science and innovation, and adoption of innovative products and practices, with an emphasis on the environment and clean growth.
Director of Agri-Tech East, Belinda Clarke, said: “Canadian farmers share many of the same issues as UK producers.  The HARVEST programme offers an incredible springboard towards international expansion for innovative, entrepreneurial companies in the agri-food sphere.”

Fruitful connections

Agri-Tech East member PBD Biotech benefited from the HARVEST programme in 2017 when it was given the opportunity to showcase its unique Actiphage test for bovine TB and other mycobacterial diseases, winning that year’s Ag in Motion Innovation Award for Crop or Livestock Technology. Last summer PBD Biotech set up a subsidiary in Saskatoon, the largest city in the province, as a base for its commercial and manufacturing operations in North America.
PBD Biotech CEO, Dr Berwyn Clarke, comments: “Bovine TB and Johne’s disease are of global concern. Actiphage’s ability to rapidly identify the disease-causing mycobacteria from blood and milk samples drew interest from Canadian milk and beef producers.  Introductions facilitated by HARVEST put us at least 6-months ahead of schedule in establishing an office in Saskatoon’s agricultural centre.”
SREDA President and CEO Alex Fallon said: “Saskatoon has already benefited from working with one of Agri-Tech East’s members and we’re excited to see results from an already fruitful connection.
“The goal of HARVEST is to promote the Saskatoon Region to agriculture technology companies and this partnership with Agri-Tech East takes that one step further. This relationship provides us with a great opportunity to showcase the strength of the agriculture industry to connect farmers and industry leaders with international companies and investors.”

Apply for HARVEST trade mission

Agri-tech organisations interested in the HARVEST mission, 16-18 July 2019, can find out more and apply via Agri-Tech East’s ‘Funding Latest’ page.
Closing date to apply for the HARVEST trade mission is 26 April 2019.