Principal Investigator: Lawrence Wackett, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics
Co-investigators: Carl Rosen, Professor and Department Head in the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate.
Industry Partners: The Office of Technology Commercialization has filed a provisional patent application. Two companies, one a Minnesota company and the other a multi-national, are currently evaluating the technology.
Problem: Urea is the primary source of nitrogen in agricultural fertilizer. However, due to high application rates, high levels of nitrate runoff into nearby waterways and threaten human health and local ecosystems.
Solution: Different urea-based compounds are used or found in fertilizers. The investigators plan to design and test these urea-based molecules for their positive and negative effects on plants. The optimal ratios of the compounds can produce better fertilizers.
Impact: By 2035, the amount of urea used as fertilizer is projected to increase from 165 billion tons to over 450 billion tons. A successful demonstration of optimally blended urea-based fertilizers could provide lower costs to farmers and offer a scalable solution to nitrate runoff and water impairment issues.