EPA and USDA Announce Competition for Fertilizer Advances

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) presented a partnership competition on Wednesday called the Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges. The agencies are hoping “to advance agricultural stability” in the country through the program. Applicants to the challenge will present proposals for fertilizer technologies that increase yields, while reducing environmental impacts.

“USDA is committed to encouraging the development of new technologies and practices to ensure that U.S. agriculture is socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable for years to come,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. He said the challenge is meant to help “stimulate innovation.”

The program includes two challenges, the first will be to identify Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers which “meet or exceed certain environmental and agro-economic criteria.” The foruma will need to control release, or reduce environmental effects. Winners will receive recognition from the organizations and a “scientific evaluation of their product.”

Winners of the second challenge, the “Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge,” will receive a prize of $10,000. Applicants will create new technologies to help “address environmental concerns” with agriculture, while not impacting yields.

“The shared goal here is to accelerate the development of next generation fertilizers for corn production that can either maintain or increase crop yields while reducing environmental impacts to our air, land, and water,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in the press release.

The program is designed to mitigate effects of fertilizers on the environment, by providing a way for fertilizers to be applied with the best timing and method for the environment, and human health, the EPA’s website stated.

The challenges opened on Wednesday and entries are due by October 30 for the first challenge and by November 30 for the second challenge. The competition is coordinated with The Fertilizer Institute, the International Fertilizer Development Center, the National Corn Growers Association, and The Nature Conservancy.