Lund University

Clay as a carrier for polyphosphate fertilizers in agriculture

  • Discovery
  • Design & Modelling
  • Structures
Academic project

Research question

Can clay be used as a polyphosphate carrier, thus a green fertilizer within agriculture? In this project, we hypothesize that clay can be used as a polyphosphate carrier, thus a green fertilizer within agriculture. Clay is an environmentally friendly, sustainable, and ancient material. The underlying thought is to apply the drug delivery concept on a larger scale, where it is possible to control and predict the release of polyphosphate. Through our studies, we will be able to establish, in relation to clay platelet size and charge, what is the optimal length and configuration of the PP, for an optimized release. We foresee that our results should be of great interest to society, the agricultural sector, and companies that produce fertilizers for the agricultural sector.

Sustainability aspects

Phosphorus is necessary for all life and for food production, and its deficiency limits the growth and productivity of plants in many parts of the world. Since many soils are low in phosphorus, this nutrient is commonly added as fertilizer to improve crop yield and quality. The drawback is that fertilization of the soil adds more water-soluble phosphorus, which can be carried down with the rain. Most are taken up by the crops, but some end up below the root depth where they cannot be reached by the plant roots, and then it is passed on to groundwater, ditches, and watercourses and eventually ends up in lakes and in the sea, where it can cause eutrophication, algae bloom, and eventually, the seabed dies, and the fish and all other life-like mussels and plants. The question is: How can society and mankind make use of phosphate more efficiently, especially within the agriculture sector. Hence, developing a green fertilizer that can control the release of phosphorus would be a great advantage from a sustainability perspective, it is eco-friendly and recyclable. According to the sustainability goals of the United Nations, it would have an impact on providing secure food for human beings as well as clean water and life below water and life on land.

researcher photo

Lund University

Marie Skepö


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