Towards Climate-Smart Fertilizer: Lower Emissions, Fewer Impacts, Higher Yields
Fertilizers are essential to feeding a growing population, and fertilizer innovation holds the key to ensuring healthier soil, fewer emissions, and better crops. A new research project at Trent pairs the expertise of Dr. Huy Dang’s environmental chemistry lab with Dr. Karen Thompson’s soil microbiology and agricultural soil health lab, along with industry partner V6 Agronomy, a Canadian fertilizer company specializing in innovative fertilizer solutions.
This collaboration has the potential to revolutionize the way Canadian farmers use fertilizers, and is poised to contribute to sustainable agriculture, and beyond, by developing more efficient, economically viable, and locally sourced solutions. Farmers, for example, have long relied on urea, a nitrogen-based fertilizer, to increase crop yields. While affordable and effective, urea comes with a high environmental cost.
"One of the issues with using urea is that it can be transformed into other gaseous forms of nitrogen, including nitrous oxide," explains Professor Dang. “To minimize the emissions of this greenhouse gas, chemicals are often used to inhibit natural biological processes and could have further detrimental effects on aquatic and soil health.”
Leveraging interdisciplinary collaboration for soil health and sustainability
The project will begin with lab experiments to assess the efficiency and ecological benefits of various fertilizer formulations. The work will benefit from Trent’s state-of-the-art facilities and the Trent Research Farm for intermediate-scale testing, before reaching real-world environments through field-scale trials. The final product will be integrated into the production lines of V6 Agronomy’s fertilizer manufacturing facility being built near Maitland, Ontario.
"This project sits in a very strong niche at Trent: environmental systems, water quality, and soil health," says Professor Thompson. "Our two research areas are very complementary to each other. This kind of interdisciplinary collaboration, particularly with an industry partner like V6 Agronomy, allows us to create more impactful applied research outcomes.”
“We’re excited to support this critical research at Trent University,” says Ryan Brophy, CEO of V6 Agronomy. “We’ve been developing compound fertilizers for Canadian growers for over 10 years, and the work of Professors Thompson and Dang has the potential to transform fundamental research into practical solutions for sustainable and highly effective fertilizer. This is something we know first-hand that Canadian farmers are looking for.”
Posted on September 12, 2023