IPB University Students Won 2nd Place for Environmentally Friendly Fertilizer Innovation

Two IPB University Students won 2nd Place in the Innovation in Fertilizer Production System Category in the 2021 Fert Innovation Challenge. They are Afrinal Firmanda and Syifa Robbani, IPB University students from the Department of Agroindustrial Technology, Faculty of Agricultural Technology (Fateta). The two IPB University students were guided by Dr. Farah Fahma.

The Fert Innovation Challenge is an innovation competition in agriculture organized by PT Pupuk Indonesia in collaboration with the Indonesian Fertilizer Research Institute (IFRI). This competition is open to the public and can be participated in by active undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral students throughout Indonesia.

In this competition, Afrinal Firmanda and Syifa Robbani designed a work entitled Development of Urea Slow Release Green Fertilizer Based on Nanocellulose Composites and Biodegradable Polymers.

According to Syifa, the world of agriculture is currently experiencing a complex trilemma, namely the challenge of food security, the challenge of environmental sustainability, and the challenge of farmers' welfare. Therefore, Syifa and Afrinal gave birth to an innovation of slow rate urea fertilizer which is eco-friendly and sustainable. This innovation can at the same time overcome the problem of fertilizer efficiency.

"The problem of fertilizer efficiency will have implications for costs and environmental pollution," said Syifa. She explained that the application of soluble N fertilizer on sandy soils can result in NO3-N leaching so that it can damage groundwater quality. Not only that, the loss of urea through evaporation and leaching also reduces the efficiency of nitrogen use by plants, which can limit crop yields, production of harmful gas emissions, and water eutrophication.

Syifa added that controlled-release urea not only reduces nitrogen loss, but also changes the nitrogen release kinetics to provide plant nutrients at a rate that suits plant metabolic needs.

"This slow release green fertilizer urea is produced by grafting urea into a biodegradable polymer matrix (nanocellulose, starch, alginate) based on mixing and immersion methods using CaCl2 crosslinking agents and or surfactants," explained Syifa.

The IPB University student continued, this fertilizer innovation is expected to reduce the problem of poor fertilizer efficiency, which is about 40 to 70 percent of urea fertilizer that is lost to the environment, causing environmental pollution and cost problems. This fertilizer also uses nanocellulose technology which is a natural resource that is abundant, renewable, biodegradable, and has long-term prospects.

This fertilizer will still be developed through research on a laboratory scale and further studies by PT Pupuk Indonesia. This competition also involves an expert panel consisting of the Top Management of Pupuk Indonesia, academics, and experienced practitioners. Also participating was Prof. Kudang Boro Seminar from the Faculty of Agricultural Technology, IPB University. (*) (IAAS/SYA)

Published Date : 05-Jan-2022

Resource Person : Dr Farah Fahma, Afrinal Firmanda dan Syifa Robbani

Keyword : fertilizer, fertilizer subsidy, fertilizer efficiency, IPB students