Q&A: Taiwan ‘Soil Doctors’ Startup and the Future of Organic Farming

The News Lens
Date: 2017/04/05
By: Rosemary Chen

Referring to themselves as ‘soil doctors,’ an interesting startup, TSBiotech, has big

Photo Credit: UnsplashCC0 License

dreams for transforming the future of organic farming in Taiwan and beyond.

In 2014, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for urgent action to improve the health of the world’s limited soil resources to ensure that future generations have enough supplies of food, water and energy. That year, experts warned that some 33 percent of the world’s soil resource was already moderately- to highly-degraded. The key causes given were erosion, nutrient depletion, acidification, urbanization and chemical pollution. What is more, the growing global population will put an even greater strain on land resources. Estimates are the global population will exceed 9 billion people by 2050, which will result in a 60 percent increase in the demand for food, feed and fiber.

TSBiotech founder and chief executive Sean Liu (劉祐誠) explains the soil degradation problems that TSBiotech is working to change and the challenges the team has faced since founding the company in 2015.

The News Lens: So what exactly is a soil doctor?

Sean Liu: Like doctors, we first assess the patient – which is the soil quality in this context – to find out why it might be sick – reasons for soil degradation. Then, we write up a diagnosis for our patient, along with a prescription. The prescription would include recommendations for fertilizers, effective microbes, and organic farming methods such as nets or pheromone bug trappers. If the farmer decides to use our prescription, we help them create the fertilizer mix and visit their farms to teach them how to use it.

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