Scientist makes slow-release fertilizer, the first of its kind in Vietnam

The ‘smart’ fertilizer, used once per crop, saves money and labor, and reduces environmental pollution.

The fertilizer is the product of Dr Tran Quoc Toan from the chemistry faculty of the Thai Nguyen University of Education and his colleagues from the Institute of Chemistry, an arm of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology.

Scientist makes slow-release fertilizer, the first of its kind in Vietnam

The trial use of the smart fertilizer in growing tea, tomatoes, medicinal herbs and oranges has brought satisfactory results.

This is the first time Vietnam has produced this kind of effective, cheap and environmentally friendly fertilizer.

According to Toan, fertilizer usage efficiency in Vietnam and the world is very low (just 30-50 percent), due to the evaporation of ammonia and washout process. This increases expenditures, reduces economic efficiency and causes pollution to the environment.

This kind of fertilizer, slowly released, provides sufficient nutrients for a long time, thus avoiding washout. 

Among slow-released fertilizers, controlled polymer-coated fertilizer (smart slow-release fertilizer) is the best because it controls the life span of the product, while the nutrient release model suits the crop’s growth cycle, unaffected by soil properties.
 

Among slow-released fertilizers, controlled polymer-coated fertilizer (smart slow-release fertilizer) is the best because it controls the life span of the product, while the nutrient release model suits the crop’s growth cycle, unaffected by soil properties.


However, as the production cost of the smart fertilizer is high, 3-10 times higher than normal fertilizers, smart fertilizers are mostly used in developed countries including the US, Japan, Canada and Europe.

In Vietnam, there are very few research projects on slow-release fertilizer. It is imported at high prices and is not suitable to Vietnam’s climate and soil conditions.

Therefore, Toan and his co-workers decided to make a slow-release fertilizer which is cheap, friendly to the environment and effective in agricultural production.

The fertilizer comprises two parts, including the sheath (polymer) and core (containing nutrients). The polymer sheath is biodegradable, and acts as a semi-permeable membrane to control the release of nutrients.

By adjusting the thickness of the polyurethane membrane, farmers can adjust the release speed as they want (3, 6, or 9 months).

The nutrients in the core part, including soluble fertilizers such as urea, KCl, DAP, MAP and natural clay minerals, are covered with a polymer shell. The nutrients are gradually released to the plants, which avoids washout and saves labor.

The trial use of the smart fertilizer in growing tea, tomatoes, medicinal herbs and oranges has brought satisfactory results.

Toan said the smart fertilizer is not expensive because it uses cheap domestic materials. The production cost is just 30-40 percent of imports and could be 25-30 percent in mass production.

The inventors have registered for a utility solution at the National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP). 

Le Ha

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