The Agricultural Research Service is seeking a company to license a new, environmentally friendly, slow-release fertilizer for lawns, turf and other crops.

This new fertilizer technology can significantly reduce the potential for leaching of nutrients into groundwater, streams and rivers by as much 97 percent for phosphorus and 84 percent for nitrates in greenhouse studies.

Slow-release fertilizers currently on the market typically work by applying a sulfur or polymer coating to fertilizer granules. The coating wears away slowly, delaying the release of fertilizer. But once the coat is gone, the remaining fertilizer becomes available in a fast cascade.

In contrast, the ARS slow-release system is based on ion exchange mechanisms that more closely mimic natural soil processes, which gives the new technology a more consistent release over time.

ARS is seeking a cooperative business partner to license the technology and develop it into commercial products--especially one for use on lawns and turf, which tend to be major contributors to nutrient runoff and leaching.

The fertilizer system also can be used on almost any crop and could be customized to the specific needs of a crop throughout its life cycle, according to co-developers Robert E. Sojka, director of the ARS Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory in Kimberly Idaho, and former ARS soil microbiologist James A. Entry.

  • More details about the new technology

  • ARS licensing information

  • SOURCE: USDA news release.