Yasmine Cathell on nutrient quality bio stimulants, microalgae and other random but world changing regen trivia

A check-in conversation with Yasmine Cathell in which we discuss everything from why we should focus on solutions that work for all farmers, not just regen organic, to the reduction of bio stimulants on farm or off farm, microalgae, nutrient density, and quality. Why does it all start in the soil? And we finish up with a masterclass on smelling soil and other random but world-changing regen trivia.


This is part of a series of interviews unpacking our recent video course. Yasmine was on the show the first time in spring 2023 while we covered the research she was doing back then. Now she is back for a conversation around nutrient density which is a key pillar of our video course.


There are a lot of very interesting bio stimulant and biofertilizer companies coming out, and they have different approaches.

They’ll sell them across the entire market space, but not necessarily specific to contexts. So, the type of soil, the type of environmental conditions, temperature, water, and all of that, sunlight. And then you have others who, instead of having one set product, they’re coming in, they’re doing an assessment of the farm, of that context. They’re trying to take the native species, and then incubate those, grow more of the beneficial ones, and then put them back in. And that’s very labour-intensive. That takes a lot of time. You need a large, very large facility.” Yasmine Cathell

”Let’s apply the same way of doing something, but in a slightly different way, and hope for different results. So instead of coming in and saying we’re going to replace those missing microbes, which, by the way, we don’t fully know how many there were to begin with, how they interact with each other, or if these are really the ones that are missing or just the ones we think are missing, it’s like “okay, let’s take a step back”. What do those microbes need to flourish naturally?” Yasmine Cathell


Yasmine shares about microalgae as a soil amendment, carrier for bacteria and nutrients, and nighttime converter of carbon for plant growth.

”I just discovered—I’m probably way late to the game—microalgae, as I don’t know that it would necessarily be a bio stimulant, so much as a soil amendment, but you only need tiny tiny quantities of it to get incredible results. And that’s because it’s like a five-micron size. So, it’s super small. So, it can also act as a carrier. So, it’ll carry different bacteria or even different nutrients into the root zone, inside the plant. And so, to me, it was like, well, wait a second. And then I discovered that they also work at night. So, at night, they’re converting carbon, so during the day, to feed the photosynthetic process. So, I was always thinking plants just have the daytime sunlight to grow. But if we can figure out who’s active at night in the soil from a bacteria and fungi standpoint and then encourage those, we’re doubling the amount of time that we have to help get nutrients unlocked from those organic, non-plant- available forms in the soil unlocked into plant-available forms. The potential there, I think, is incredible.” Yasmine Cathell


Yasmine suggests that a solution to support regenerative farming is to redefine how we look at farming and make it accessible for all farmers, including conventional ones.

”I think there’s also polarisation in the dialogue. And that’s a big problem too. We have this sort of regenerative organic is the gold standard. And if you’re not doing all of these things, then you’re just another conventional farmer, and I think that’s really harmful. Also from an investment standpoint, because you’re then looking at okay, but the number of organic farms is like 1% or something like that of all farms, the number of regenerative, organic farms is even tinier. But then, if you say, okay, well, the number of regenerative farms is growing, it’s still a very small percentage of farms. And I would argue that every farmer, regardless of what they call themselves, wants to produce healthy, tasty food. They would love to produce something that their kids are excited to eat“.

Yasmine Cathell

”So, farmer, at the end of the day, does need yield in order to make his quotas in order to make sure that he’s hitting that profit. So, I’d say this is also an exciting area for the biology in the soil. Because I have seen stories and farms where, again, they are increasing their yields beyond what they thought was possible with a chemical approach. And so, I think for investors to get to some of your questions from earlier, how I would look at this is what is a solution that doesn’t just scale for regenerative farming, but redefines how we look at farming and makes it accessible for all farmers, including conventional farmers, to adopt and improve their profit margins. And I don’t think that’s a pie-in-the-sky dream. I think that that is very much the promise of soil biology. And within reach, I would say, in the next five to seven years, we’re going to be seeing just huge changes in how we approach farming in general.” Yasmine Cathell


Koen and Yasmine also talked about:

  • Potential for biology and nutrient density to impact farming and food production
  • Soil health, farming practices, and their impact on human health and the environment
  • Soil smelling and its connection to human health




Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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