IPB University Students Win 2nd Place in Fert Innovation Challenge 2021 for Eco-Friendly Invention

Two students of IPB University’s Department of Agroindustrial Engineering, Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, Afrinal Firmanda and Syifa Robbani, under the guidance of Dr Farah Fahma, have won 2nd place in the category of Innovation in Fertilizer Production System at the Fert Innovation Challenge 2021. The Fert Innovation Challenge is an innovation competition in agricultural field, organized by PT Pupuk Indonesia in collaboration with the Indonesian Fertilizer Research Institute (IFRI). The competition was open for public and could be participated by undergraduate and graduate students across Indonesia. In this competition, the two students presented their innovation called the “Urea Slow-Release Green Fertilizer” which featured an innovation composed of nanocellulose composite and biodegradable polymer.

According to Syifa, the world’s agriculture is faced by a complex trilemma made up of three challenges: the challenge of food security, the challenge of sustainable environment, and the challenge of the farmers’ welfare. Due to this, Syifa and Afrinal have decided to create a fertilizer which would slowly release urea, making it eco-friendlier and more sustainable compared to regular fertilizer commonly used.

The innovation can also overcome the problem of unideal fertilizer efficiency where 40% to 70% of fertilizer urea is lost into the environment, causing environmental pollution and increased costs for farmers. Fertilizer efficiency have implications on both the costs farmers need to cover and environmental pollution. The application of nitrogen fertilizers which are easily soluble in sandy soil could cause lower amounts of NO3-N in soil, reducing the quality of soil water. The loss of urea through evaporation also impacts the efficiency of nitrogen use by plants. This condition not only limits agricultural produce, but also emits dangerous gasses and causes water eutrophication.

Urea Slow-Release Green Fertilizer is produced by transplanting urea into the biodegradable polymer matrix (nanocellulose, starch, alginate) with the mixing and immersion method which uses cross binging agents such as CaCl2 or surfactants. Syifa explained that when urea is released in controlled timing, the loss of nitrogen will be lessened and the modified kinetics of nitrogen release will also provide plants with nutrition that they need, in the speed of the plants’ metabolism. Afrinal and Syifa’s fertilizer innovation uses the nanocellulose technology which is a resource that is plentiful, renewable, biodegradable, and has great prospect for the long term.

This product is in further development through research in laboratory scale and further studying at PT Pupuk Indonesia. The competition itself also involved an expert panel consisting of Top Management Pupuk Indonesia, academicians, and experienced practitioners.

Published Date : 05-Jan-2022

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

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