Microbial soil improver wins Paul Verhaert Award 2020
As every year during the graduation ceremony of the master students’ product development, Verhaert hands out the ‘Paul Verhaert Award’: a prize for the master’s thesis with the most innovative product. Ornella Torres Melkebeek was the promising graduate student who received the award for her product set that garden owners can use to prepare their own microbial soil improver.
Simple product with a commercial character
We often see young designers tackling a complex problem with possibly an even more complex solution. “It’s completely different with the winner of this award,” says David Pas, Coordinator of DesignLab at Verhaert. “The problem definition is clear and understandable. The product has such simple greatness, that we could actually see it in the store. Ornella receives the Paul Verhaert Award because her product makes sense and could be a commercial success.” The presentation was completely correct, taking into account the technological, business and human aspects, just like Verhaert defines in its unique integrated approach the ‘Sweet Spot of Innovation’.
Healthy soil with Tiërra
Tiërra is based on a traditional agricultural method to improve the soil with the so-called Indigenous Microorganisms as the main ingredient. The product consists of 2 parts:
- The collector: a tool to collect soil microorganisms
- The reactor: a unit to catch microorganisms in an aerated mixture so they multiply to create soil improver. Rice is used as bait and the microorganisms are fed with molasses, a waste product of sugar.
The result you get with Tiërra is a freshly made, biological agent that increases the number of microorganisms in the soil and thus improves the soil health. More soil life accelerates the destruction of organic substances like pollutants and contributes to the soil structure, resulting in improved water retention and a fundamental win-win relationship for plants.
David Pas: “We’re living in exciting times. It’s up to recently graduated designers to help shape our future and focus on sustainable innovation and circular economy. Products like Tiërra look very promising. Therefore, we’re very pleased to welcome Ornella as an employee of Verhaert’s DesignLab team.”
Visit www.masterexpo-ontwerpwetenschappen.be for more details about Ornella’s master’s thesis.