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Five Prizewinning Fertilizers Seen As Next Generation Tools For Farmers

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Last week, USDA and the EPA announced the prizewinners of the Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge.

With a focus on reducing environmental effects from nitrogen and phosphorous while maintaining or increasing crop yields, contestants were to formulate a concept and submit within a two-month window.

The Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge and EEFs (enhanced efficiency fertilizers): Environmental and Agronomic Challenge were established to mitigate adverse environmental effects influenced by agriculture. The two challenges are coined together under the Joint EPA-USDA Partnership and Competition on Next Gen Fertilizers to Advance Agricultural Sustainability in the United States.

Acting USDA Chief Scientist Hubert Hamer sees these technologies as a tool in tackling climate change, saying, “Through programs like the Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge, USDA is partnering with the private sector to find new climate-smart solutions that are good for farmers and good for the environment.”

The most notable winners include those within Tier 1 solutions, yielding a $17,500 prize, each:

Dr. Christopher Hendrickson of Aqua-Yield Operations LLC out of Draper, Utah, with nano-smart fertilizers.

Taylor Pursell of Agri-Tech based in Sylacauga, Alabama, with “Urea 2.0” which replaces conventional urea with a customizable approach.

Tier 2 solutions yielded a prize of $10,000, each:

Dr. Kuide Qin of Verdesian Life Sciences out of Cary, North Carolina with a more effective, less nitrate leaching option of nitrapyrin.

Dr. Catherine Roue of Fertinagro Biotech International of Portage Michigan for a “Phosphate Liberation Booster” that minimizes the need for added fertilizer.

Chandrika Varadachari of Agtec Innovations out of Los Altos, California for “Smart-N”, a fertilizer that releases nutrients on-demand while containing urea.

While this Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge has been awarded, the EEFs: Environmental and Agronomic Challenge is ongoing.

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