Valley Grown: Merced company turns unwanted almond shells into organic fertilizer

Mike Woelk is the CEO and co-founder of Corigin, a bio chemistry company based in Merced. When it comes to helping farmers grow more with less and help the environment, he believes they've cracked the code. He explains, "It really kind of comes down to how do we take carbon atoms out of the air and put them into the one place on Earth, where it adds extraordinary value. And that's soils."

With 800 to 900 thousand tons of almond shells produced a year in California, Mike saw the opportunity to make something out of a product that is normally thrown away. And it all happens in a warehouse in Merced, where the almond shells are burned, the biochar is collected and the vapors are distilled into their liquid product called Coriphol. From there, the organic Coriphol distilled from the burned almond shells can be injected into a farmer's already established nutrient plan and the biochar can be tilled into the soil, keeping nutrients, water and carbon in the ground and not in the air.

And the results, Mike says, speak for themselves. "And so by putting this onto plants in advance, what we find is that plants grow faster, higher quality, quite often higher sugar content with lower input costs. You want to solve the problem and add value to a farmers help them grow more with lower input costs and a process that also helps ameliorate the climate change problems."

To learn more about Corigin, visit their website.

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