Kerry-based Brandon Bioscience took home the top prize at this year’s Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena for its novel seaweed based biostimulant.

The biostimulant, derived from the common brown seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum, significantly improves a crop’s nitrogen use efficiency (NUE).

The company claims the biostimulant can allow farmers to reduce nitrogen rates by up to 20% without reducing crop yield. It is extracted from seaweed using the company’s proprietary Plant Signal Induction (PSI) technology. This allowed the company to move from producing generic seaweed extracts to identifying, isolating and extracting specific bio-compounds to create functional and specific biostimulants.

There were 11 other category winners in this year’s competition

The biostimulant was incorporated into a coating for a new range of granular nitrogen fertilisers which was launched to the market this year in conjunction with Target Fertilisers. This new fertiliser, called the Terra range, has a reduced nitrogen content of 22% so physical application rates remain the same.

There were 11 other category winners in this year’s competition. Kildare-based Equitrace won the overall startup award for its app which allows owners to identify and locate their horses.

Limerick’s Samco won the engineering award for its Generation 3 maize planter which uses a single-row plastic laying system. Cork-based ApisProtect picked up the agritech startup award for its wireless in-hive bee monitoring sensors. Laois farmer Seamus Dunne won the Alfie Cox On-Farm Innovation Award for his Crush Mate device which helps restrict the side-to-side movements of smaller animals in a crush.