Seed World

A Whole New Approach to Crop Nutrition

Niklas Åström is CEO of Arevo, a Swedish-based company that offers an all-new avenue in crop nutrition: liquid and granular amino acid plant nutrition technologies that deliver all the crop productivity with nearly zero leaching. 

Niklas, you joined Arevo as a member of its board of directors in 2019, then took over as CEO this past September. Why the change? 

Last fall, when we started more seriously discussing taking the company from a start-up to a scale-up, I certainly wasn’t intending to assume the CEO role. But, this spring, I had a coffee with our company’s founder where we discussed Arevo’s next steps. He said, “You have all these ideas, the contacts and the passion. Would you consider taking over as CEO?” 

The idea grew on me. I knew we had a good base, good investors and the kind of product you maybe find once in your lifetime. I had a discussion with my family because going from being a CEO with a huge, public company to a start-up was a risk, of course, and a challenge, but also a great opportunity. My family felt how excited I was and how confident I was that all the pieces were there for Arevo to really take off, so they said, ‘Do it!’.

Arevo as a company and your flagship product, arGrow, grew out of academic research. Is the connection to research and academia still a priority for the company?

Definitely. We very much have the culture of a research-based company. Our founder and current chief technical officer, Professor Torgny Nasholm still spends half his time at the Agriculture University of Sweden. Our goal is to deliver to the market solutions that meaningfully reduce farming’s dependency on inorganic fertilizers, while supporting the environment, while producing as much or more quality and yield as a conventional fertilizer delivers, while making farmers as much money as possible. Achieving all that depends on high-quality research.

Why agriculture? 

Niklas Åström

I believe farming – the ability to provide food to the world — is the single most important priority humans face. We need to give farmers products and technologies that help them in real ways. 

My grandpa was a farmer. I wasn’t born on the farm, but I grew up very close to farming. I’ve been working on the machine side of agriculture in the front-end loader business for 20 years. So, I understand the pressures and challenges of farming, and I deeply care about supporting the farming community. 

Arevo’s technology is cutting edge, yet it’s based on nature. Do you feel there are more opportunities to enhance sustainability and productivity by learning from nature?

Absolutely. The product we have comes from a natural process. We learned from nature, and we’re still learning from nature. Our goal is to bring to market a whole system to support growing plants more efficientlyfrom seed to harvest. 

To get real traction for your product, you’ll have to convince the agriculture industry to change their perspective on nitrogen application in a really significant way. Do-able? 

Change is coming. The research behind this concept is more than a decade old, and the technology has been proven in the forest sector for nearly as long. On the agriculture side, we’ve been doing lab work and field trials for four years. The data clearly shows that our product produces close to zero leaching while supporting excellent plant growth. That’s a real solution to some of agriculture’s biggest challenges and has already attracted the interest of one of the ‘big guy’ global companies. We are aiming to be on the market in the next 18-24 months. I think the ag industry is hungry for solutions that work. 

When you’re not busy at work, how do you spend your time?

This work is so fun that I don’t need great vacations and escapes! But I am an avid skier and I love spending time with my family. So, when I’m not working, you’ll find me at a ski cabin carving fresh tracks in the snow with as many of my three (now adult) children as I can convince to join me.