ARS seeks partner for eco-friendly fertilizer

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has developed new technology to create a slow-release fertilizer for lawns, turf and other crops. The slow-release system is designed to reduce the potential for leaching of nutrients into groundwater, streams and rivers by as much as 97 percent for phosphorus and 84 percent for nitrates, according to greenhouse studies.

Unlike the slow-release fertilizers currently on the market, which typically have a sulfur or polymer coating over the fertilizer granules, the ARS system is based on ion exchange mechanisms that more closely resemble the natural soil process, which gives the fertilizer a more consistent release over time.

ARS is seeking a cooperative business partner to license the technology and develop it into commercial products, including products for use on lawns and turf, which tend to be major contributors to nutrient runoff and leaching.

The fertilizer system can be used on almost any crop and could be customized to the specific needs of a crop throughout its life cycle, according to co-developers Robert Sojka, director of the ARS Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory in Kimberly Idaho, and former ARS soil microbiologist James Entry.

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