Initial trials with rice at the Rice Research and Development Institute in Batalagoda indicated that the nano-fertiliser can save urea by about 40%. This is significant considering that during fertilisation up to 70% urea is lost to crops because of leaching and volatilisation.
SLINTEC’s slow release potassium nano-fertiliser systems have also shown great promise is saving up to 50% of K. Considering that the Government spends over Rs. 30 billion on the fertiliser subsidy, even a 10% saving can accrue great benefits to the country’s agriculture sector.
The DOA/SLINTEC collaboration will do extensive field trials on rice, potato, onion, fruits and flowers. SLINTEC hopes to commercialise its fertiliser products through a partnership with Hayleys Agro, which is one of its equity partners.
Slow and controlled release fertilisers are believed to have the potential to address most of the fertilisation challenges, although none of the available systems have shown a greater promise thus far on a global scale.
The emerging nanotechnology based strategies indicate that, due to their nanoscale size (1-100 nm) and high surface area to volume ratio (compared to macro sized conventional fertiliser systems), nano-fertilisers would profoundly impact energy, economy, and environment by reducing nutrient loss due to leaching, emissions, and long-term incorporation by soil micro-organisms.
Nutrients encapsulated in nanoparticles may increase the uptake efficiency by triggering the release according to the environmental conditions and plant demand. In addition, slow and controlled release fertilisers may also improve soil by decreasing adverse effects associated with over application of fertiliser, leading to eco-friendly farming technologies.
Present at the signing of agreements representing DOA were their Amodha Mayakaduwa, Dr. Priyantha Weerasinghe, Dr. Rohan Wijekoon – Director General(DOA). Representing Ministries were R.M.D.B. Meegasmulla – Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Wasantha Perera, Additional Secretary – Ministry of Technology and Research. Representing SLINTEC were Prof. Veranja Karunaratne – Science Team Leader, Dr. Nilwala Kottegoda – Senior Research Scientist and Sunanda Gunasekara – Manager -Technical Services.