Innovation: Beyond the products and people

Look beyond ICL’s industry-leading products and people, and you’ll find a global network of innovation hard at work

3 mins

For some of you, ICL is just the name on the Osmocote or Peters products you use in your growing operation. For others, it’s the Territory Manager who helped you with fertilizer trials and other growing expertise. Or maybe your strongest connection with ICL is our Technical Services Director, Dr. Fred Hulme, respected and trusted by growers nationwide.

Knowing our name generates those positive associations for growers and distributors is satisfying. But we’d like you to know about the innovation behind those products and people, too. With ICL, your operation becomes partnered with a much larger whole. There’s a global network of discovery and development hard at work to bring you and others the best in industry-leading products, services, and people.

Research, Development, and Innovation (RD&I)

Plenty of companies have research and development teams, known as R&D for short. But at ICL, we call it RD&I. That “I” stands for innovation, and horticulture and agriculture comprise a significant portion of our RD&I efforts. Advanced, sustainable crop nutrition is a primary focus—important not only for your business but also for food security around the world.

ICL continually seeks innovative new ways to impact the future and, quite honestly, make the world a better place. In 2021, the company invested $57 million in research and development expenses through 26 R&D and Innovation centers worldwide. These programs and the advances they generate cover a lot of ground.

They include people like Lucia Villavicencio, Ph.D., our Product Development Senior Research Scientist at our North Charleston, South Carolina facility, as well as university research partners pioneering horticultural and agricultural studies. Plus, our Green Lab across the globe works to develop new sustainable technologies for next-generation fertilizers to help you grow stronger, healthier ornamentals, agricultural crops, and turf.

Eqo.x technology

One significant result of our drive for innovation is ICL’s new eqo.x biodegradable release technology. Though it isn’t yet available in the U.S., eqo.x represents a whole new era of controlled-release urea. It’s our most advanced controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) technology yet—and that’s saying a lot. Its announcement raised the bar for future fertilizers.

Eqo.x was designed specifically to meet strict new European fertilizer standards set for 2026. Those standards aim to reduce fertilizer nutrient loss by at least 50% by 2030. As the first of its kind to market, our technology will help farmers maximize crop performance, minimize environmental impact, and contribute toward that goal. Research shows eqo.x can reduce nutrient loss to the environment by up to 50% and increase nutrient use efficiency up to 80%.

With eqo.x, farmers will be able to decrease fertilizer rates, reduce nitrogen applications, and enjoy increased or similar yields. All thanks to consistent, predictable nutrient release controlled by soil temperature. It’s a groundbreaking advance in precision nutrition technology that stands to benefit farmers and the environment worldwide.

ICL Planet Startup Hub

As part of our commitment to our planet and its people, ICL launched the ICL Planet Startup Hub. This AgriFood-focused program connects ICL with AgTech and Food Tech innovators outside the company to help promising startups grow and succeed. As with our internal RD&I, we’re aiming high to provide solutions for global sustainability challenges.

The AgTech component of Planet Startup Hub emphasizes crop nutrition—innovations that can make a difference for growers, farmers, and the environment now and in years to come. Our focus is on technologies for:

  • next-generation fertilizers
  • organic fertilizers
  • increased nutrient use efficiency
  • biostimulants and micronutrients
  • and nitrogen fixation

The Hub’s Food Tech focus includes alternative proteins, natural ingredients, plant-based functional ingredients, and clean biotechnologies to replace polluting tech.

From pilot-ready, early-stage startups to more advanced market-ready and growth-ready companies, Hub innovators benefit from ICL resources ranging from direct investment and mentorship to infrastructure access and go-to-market support.

The way we see it, these win-win collaborations allow us to leverage our resources, accelerate game-changing technologies, and make an impact for the future today. Entities that fit the bill can reach out directly through the Planet Startup Hub website.

At ICL, we work to help you grow your crops and your business. One way we do this is by growing ideas. Whether you’re an ornamental grower, a distributor, or specialty agriculture is your thing, your success is our success. We’re here for you, from the lab to the greenhouse to the field.