The basis of Plant Power Products BV was laid by Wiebe Postma over 25 years ago. He came into contact with the shrimp peeling plant Heiploeg. This company was busy adding value to the residual flows from the shrimp peeling plant.
The chitin that can be extracted from the shrimp peelings can be converted into chitosan through a chemical process. Chitosan was already used in the biomedical world in the 1990s because it had an antimicrobial and antifungal effect.
Wiebe was asked to investigate whether this efficacy could also be demonstrated in arable crops. Wiebe, who had a background as arable farmer, started his first tests in seed potatoes.
The seed potatoes were treated with a solution of chitosan, which resulted in a thin film of chitosan on the tuber. The results were astonishing! Fewer diseases and higher yields were the result.
As the effect of chitosan in potato cultivation soon became known, and Wiebe received requests from arable farmers to supply this product, he coined the brand name Hamerol.
In the period that followed, he continued his pioneering work and started testing Hamerol in other crops too, such as winter wheat, grass clover, tomatoes and peppers.
Tests had shown that Hamerol had a fungicidal effect, so Wiebe started testing it with foliar spraying. Problems arose here because the positively charged chitosan flocculated when dissolved in water. This also clogged up the nozzles of the sprayers, which made the crop spraying impossible in practice.
After some research, it was discovered that the chitosan could be made soluble in water by adding an acid. Now crop spraying was also possible.
In 2014, chitosan hydrochloride (the EU stipulated that only hydrochloride could be used as an acidifier) was registered in the EU as a basic substance and authorised by the Ctgb in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, a large number of universities and research institutes all over the world are conducting research into the effects and use of chitosan. These studies have shown that chitosan has a demonstrably positive influence on the resistance of plants to a large number of fungal and bacterial attacks.
Whereas in the past a wide range of chemical agents were available for combating diseases in crops, now the authorisation of several agents is being withdrawn. In some crops, this is causing major problems in disease control. This also explains the renewed interest in chitosan hydrochloride to complement the existing range of active ingredients and to play a role in resistance management.
A few years ago, Wiebe recognised that the market was now ready for the large-scale application of Hamerol. Wiebe is now over 80 years old and, in order to ensure continuity, decided a number of years ago to transfer the professional marketing of Hamerol to the current owners of Plant Power Products.
Wiebes’s heart and soul is in Hamerol. That is why he remains involved in Plant Power Products in the background and is always ready to provide advice when needed with his vast practical experience.