UK’s only specialist nematode facility invests in growth

1 min read

BASF has invested in new vessels at its specialist nematode production facility, which is the only one of its kind in Britain.

The operation produces nematodes used by amateur gardeners and commercial growers globally as a natural pest-control solution for slugs and other pests.

Based in Littlehampton, the 4,000 m2 facility has been producing up to 12 trillion nematodes every month, but the installation of the new vessels in which to grow them will see this increase by 14% per month, whilst also creating a more robust manufacturing process, ensuring reliable supply to customers.

The project was conceived at the end of 2020 and work began in earnest at the beginning of 2021, with completion due at the end of Q1 2022.

As is the case for the other 6 manufacturing vessels already on site, the new equipment was designed and manufactured to exacting requirements in Burton upon Trent, a town famous for its brewing – which is apt, as the vessel is reminiscent of a brewery fermenter, with similar technology employed in its production.

The 316L Stainless Steel vessels, with ground and polished welds for sterility, are designed and tested to withstand 150ºC, 5.2 barg pressure and full vacuum, with a cooling jacket built into the shell, to prevent the nematodes from ‘cooking’ by the heat generated from their mass reproduction. Even when empty the vessels weigh an astonishing 7,150 kg.

The vessel installation took place over a weekend, but the mammoth task of mechanical and electrical installation will take approximately 10 weeks, with work due to begin this month.

Thomas Goddard, operations manager at BASF Agricultural Specialities commented: “This is an exciting time for the company, as we invest in our resources, which reflects the growing appetite for biological pest control and our unique place in the market.”