Stars seed minerals for fertilisers

SUSFERT at animal, plant nutrition partner – Groupe Roullier

You may wonder what stars have to do with minerals, or even fertilisers. Who better to tell us than SUSFERT partner, Groupe Roullier, which specialises in animal and plant nutrition.

Located on the coast of Brittany, the historic town of St. Malo in France served as the picturesque backdrop for the 11th SUSFERT Consortium Meeting, which took place in March, 2023. The family-run global enterprise Groupe Roullier has its headquarters there.

From stars to life’s essence – fertilisers explored

This sculpture at the Minerallium is up for interpretation – streamlined octopus, or the essence of life in creation?  Photo courtesy of the Roullier Endowment Fund.

A significant gift to St.Malo was the opening of the philanthropic initiative of the Roullier Endowment Fund, the Minerallium, in 2020. The Minerallium houses an original, comprehensive, world-class scientific exhibit on the role of minerals in the functioning of living beings.

In a gesture of appreciation for the Consortium’s hard work, Groupe Roullier invited SUSFERT to a private tour of the exhibition.

The visionary work was created by museographer Aude Planterose and designer Benjamin Graindorge, while the French National Museum of Natural History provided the scientific detail in association with scientists from Groupe Roullier.

The Earth’s minerals come from rocks seeded by stars. Courtesy of the Roullier Endowment Fund.

The exhibit documents the history of the Earth’s minerals from the Big Bang to the stars that exploded, which released minerals that combined to make rocks as part of our evolution.

You journey through the first signs of life crawling out of the ocean to the present-day significance of minerals to plants, animals and humans. All of this is presented via 3D hologram-like exhibits that are packed with information that would have been helpful in school to give science a spark.  Read a NASA take on minerals HERE.

An enlarged endoplasmic reticulum which is part of a cell’s structure. Minerals are needed to properly synthesise molecules for the transfer of RNA. (c) Roullier Endowment Fund.

Sustainable mineral use key to future agriculture

The quest for top quality nutrition for sustainable agriculture and our food chain. Photo courtesy of the Roullier Endowment Fund.

Leaving the exhibit you are struck with the essence of the message. Without minerals, there would be no life. No sea. No land. No agriculture. Although you are confronted with future agricultural challenges, such as growing populations and fewer resources in a carbon-constrained world, there are solutions at hand.

You are left with a positive and hopeful impression. There are multiple solutions that come from a careful use of resources combined with smart, innovative ways to develop sustainable solutions for agriculture, and the global food chain, that are effective, efficient and precise.

More information about the Roullier Endowment Group and the Minerallium: The Minerallium – Roullier Endowment Fund (

Different soils need different solutions. Core soil samples taken from the earth show the traces of minerals, for example the red iron. They were provided by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria. Photo courtesy of the Roullier Endowment Fund.

St.Malo Brittany’s bastion

The SUSFERT Consortium in the old town of St. Malo.

SUSFERT was also able to see the historic sites in St. Malo, including the iconic ramparts that encircle the old town, the St. Vincent Cathedral, and the Fort National. The village’s rich history dates back to the Roman era, and its strategic location along the English Channel has shaped its role as a key maritime and trading centre for centuries. Close-by is the famous UNESCO World Heritage site Mont Saint-Michel.

The area’s geological diversity and the presence of rare minerals further enhances the village’s appeal and underscores the importance of sustainable practices in agriculture and resource management for the well-being of people. On the first evening, the team enjoyed a tour through the historic old town. We had the chance to savour the exceptional French cuisine, which in St. Malo is strongly influenced by the traits of the Atlantic Ocean.


(l-r) SUSFERT Scientific Co-ordinator, Günter Brader, Groupe Roullier R&D Director, Plant Nutrition, Sylvain Pluchon, and SUSFERT Project Manager, Mikael Muegge, in the lobby of Roullier. (c) RTDS.

The hybrid face-to-face and virtual meeting kicked off with a brief by the Project Manager, Mikael Muegge, providing an update on the current status of the project and sharing the roadmap for the remainder of the project. SUSFERT will be extended until month 68 of the project taking it to December 2023 allowing this year’s prototype fertiliser performance to be incorporated into the final results of the project.

Consortium members from Acies Bio, AGRANA, ABiTEP, AIT, ARIC, BOKU, Groupe Roullier, RTDS Group, TIMAC AGRO, SAPPI, and the University of Antwerp provided updates on their respective areas of the project and focus areas have been identified. Special attention was given to the ongoing advancements in strain development and the promising results from recent field trials.

An ancient log was found in a swamp on a nearby farm dating back 6,500 years. It was salvaged and preserved by the Roulllier Endowment Fund and is on display at the Minerallium. (c) RTDS.

Muegge also stressed the importance of ongoing collaboration and communication – not only amongst the Consortium members but also towards the wider public – to ensure the successful completion of the project.

SUSKIT is SUSFERT’s prototype fertilisers in plastic-free bottles. Photo: Acies Bio.

Finally, SUSKIT has been presented to the Consortium partners, an intriguing way of showcasing the preliminary results of the prototype fertilisers at events and in-house.

The team left St. Malo with a list of tasks and is excited to embark on the final stages of the project.

Major take-aways from meeting

The project has been extended to the end of December, 2023.

Field trial results need to be consolidated, including the communication amongst the partners.

Most promising fertiliser prototypes need to be identified.

Dissemination activities need to be strengthened and well-coordinated for the remaining months.

SUSKIT has been introduced for an attractive presentation of the prototype fertilisers at partner events.

Suspended in life, but always moving. (c) RTDS.

St. Malo is famous for the waves beating down on the old town which it has survived for centuries. The wooden poles serve as a barrier to break the force of the water. (c) RTDS.

Philippa Webb-Muegge and Ben Leitner contributed to this story.