A Company for Farmers and the Environment

Locus Fermentation Solutions

12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Locus is a great example of a company that makes sustainable production easier for farmers. Locus is about optimizing profitability and improving sustainability. Optimizing profitability is accomplished since their products enrich the soil and root microbiome, resulting in improved vigor, and increased yields. Improving sustainability is accomplished through their products, substantially reducing carbon footprints by increasing soil carbon utilization and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

Authors

Michael Griffin

Michael Griffin

Brittani Becher

Brittani Becher

School

The University of Toledo

The University of Toledo

Professor

Joe Cooper

Joe Cooper

Innovation

The company specializes primarily in helping to facilitate more growth in plants through probiotics. Fermentation is used to multiply the probiotics which are living, useful bacteria. These probiotics are a revolutionary approach in sustainable agriculture because they help reduce the carbon footprint of the farmers. In a video prepared by the Locus Fermentation team, they talk about one of their customers, Parkesdale Farms, who saw a dramatic reduction in their fertilizer use when implementing the Rhizolizer probiotic. In fact, about 20 percent of fertilizer was cut back with the help of Rhizolizer. Andrew Lefkowitz summarizes their innovation well during our interview, “it's a win for everyone.” Locus’s products not only helps society, but the environment as well by combating climate change.

A figure developed by Locus Agricultural Solutions, a subsidiary company of Locus Fermentation Solutions, shared with us by Teresa DeJohn highlights that the increase in biomass in the roots after treatment allows for more nutrients to be utilized by the plant. This includes nitrogen from fertilizer, allowing a decrease in fertilizer use, in general.

Another one of Locus’s primary products is Terradigm. In an advertisement for Terradigm on the Locus Agricultural Solutions website, it is described as a natural soil “probiotic” treatment that improves quality and resiliency while reducing carbon footprint. The benefits of Terradigm are enhancing turfgrass color and maintaining better overall plant health with lower inputs and less loss from applied nutrients. This treated turf shows improved divot and play recovery, and faster healing from verticutting and aerification, among other benefits.

The video discussing Parkesdale Farms was from the Locus Agricultural Solutions channel (https://youtu.be/0FNgdSOJkmw).

The figure illustrating carbon sequestration was taken from a presentation developed by Locus Agricultural Solutions, shared by Teresa DeJohn.

Information for Terradigm was obtained from the Locus Agricultural Solutions website (https://locusag.com/terradigm)

A Company for Farmers and the Environment

Inspiration

As one of the co-founders, Andrew Lefkowitz says the idea for Locus Fermentation Solutions came from Ganeden Inc., another company he founded. Ganeden was known for its popular strain of probiotic called GanedenBC30, which provided health benefits to foods consumed. On an advertisement for GanedenBC30 on Ganeden's website, they reference that it has been adopted for use in more than 100 foods, beverages, and animal health products. Ganeden’s success helped spawn the second company he founded, Locus Fermentation Solutions. Andrew Lefkowitz and Sean Farmer were inspired to apply this previously existing technology to an agricultural setting. These probiotics helped produce higher density roots for more nutrient uptake.

Another reason Andrew Lefkowitz and Sean Farmer were inspired to create this company was as a way to help combat current environmental problems, including global warming and degrading soil fertility. This was stated well when Andrew Lefkowitz stated “there is no time to fool around anymore,” during our interview. “The technology is here, why is it not being used?”

All information about Ganeden and its product GanedenBC30 is from the advertisement for GanedenBC30 on the Ganeden website (https://ganedenbc30.com/)

Overall impact

Locus achieves United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12, which is sustainable consumption and production. The impact Locus has, overall, is making money for farmers and mitigating global warming. This benefits the business because their goal, as a company, is to enhance the living conditions for generations now and in the future. Locus’s impacts are embedded in the business and are not philanthropy. Locus’s innovations are scalable, which means something that could be expanded, or another business could do it to increase positive impact. Growers want to reduce their impact, as the food companies would “like to see their supply chain decarbonize,” says CEO Andrew Lefkowitz during the interview when asked about what is scalable within the company.

Business benefit

One question we asked Andrew Lefkowitz was what are the short-term and long-term impacts or benefits for Locus. He responded saying it is the excitement about what they do for a living and increasing the pleasantness of living conditions where they are now and for future generations. In addition, selling products to increase the value of the business. Lastly, the positive service to society they provide in the food production industry. To add to this, the business itself has seen remarkable growth in the short amount of time since it was founded. In an article by Rachel McCafferty called "Locus finds big solutions in microorganisms", in January of 2018, there were merely 42 employees at Locus. This number has jumped to an astounding 109 employees in March of 2019.

Information about the size of Locus Fermentation Solutions was from the article "Locus finds big solutions in microorganisms," by Rachel McCafferty on the Crain's Cleveland Business website.

Social and environmental benefit

Locus also has short-term and long-term benefits to society, the environment, and farms. The short-term impacts on the environment include reduced atmospheric carbon dioxide and nitrogen or greenhouse gas emissions, increased soil carbon and improve nitrogen-use efficiency, lower off-site movement of nutrients, and increased soil organic carbon. One figure from a presentation developed by the Locus Agricultural Solutions team reports an increase in the root mass of their crops up to 153%. This translated to higher yields in multiple crops, such as cantaloupe (43%), watermelon (34%), tomatoes (40%), citrus fruits (34%), and potatoes (31%).

On the website for Locus Agricultural Solutions, they report that their long-term impacts on the environment include minimized carbon footprint, maximized sustainability, decreased use of water and other inputs, and easier transition to organic or regenerative practices. With larger root mass comes an increase in plant capacity to store carbon dioxide within the soil. For example, another figure from Locus Agricultural Solutions reports that, annually, 4.4 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per acre can be sequestered in a treated almond farm in Florida.

Locus also reports that their short-term impacts at the farm include enhanced soil health, decreased harvest time, a reduction in the effects of stress, help fighting disease and pests, improved water-use efficiency, and increased yields and productivity. The long-term impacts on the farm include more food/acre and less land use, improvements in gross/net income for growers, reduced operating costs, and lower flood damage impact and soil loss. Evidence of the impacts and benefits includes that they currently treat more than 40,000 acres of land, which could offset emissions of up to about 40,000 cars.

The figures illustrating yields of treated crops and reported carbon dioxide annual sequestration rates were taken from a presentation developed by Locus Agricultural Solutions, shared with us by Teresa DeJohn.

Information for both how Locus impacts society and the environment both short-term and long-term was adopted from the Locus Agricultural Solutions website (https://locusag.com/)

Interviews

Andrew Lefkowitz, Co-Founder, CEO & Chairman

Teresa DeJohn, Director of Marketing & PR

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Locus Fermentation Solutions

Locus Fermentation Solutions

Solon, Ohio, US

Business Website: https://locusag.com/

Year Founded: 2014

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

Locus Fermentation Solutions is a great example of a company that makes sustainable production easier for farmers using probiotics to increase root mass and mitigate carbon dioxide while also being a profitable business. We had the pleasure to talk to Andrew Lefkowitz, Co-Founder, CEO & Chairman as well as Teressa DeJohn, Director of Marketing & PR at Locus Fermentation Solutions. Mr. Lefkowitz has been a part of the Locus team for four years. The company is located in Solon, Ohio. Locus was founded in 2014 and has been independently owned since 2017.