Inorganic fertilizer is still an important input required to achieve challenging yield targets in sugarcane farms. However, it is costly and known to deteriorate the environment when not managed properly. Not all nutrients from inorganic fertilizers could be assimilated by the crop. Some are lost due to runoff and leaching.  With the application of nanotechnology in agriculture, these losses can be reduced. Hence, nanofertilizers are emerging as a promising alternative.

FertiGroe® N, P, and K are the new slow-release nanofertilizers. These are nano-sized (1-100nm) particle technology that increases surface area for nutrient adsorption. These products offer better economic yield and safer for the environment through their strong potential of slowing down or controlling nutrient release to increase nutrient use efficiency.

The Agricultural Systems Institute (ASI) and La Granja Research and Training Station (LGRTS) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) are currently testing the formulated FertiGroe® N, P, and K nanofertilizers for sugarcane through the project, “Development of Application Protocol and Field Verification of FertiGroe® N, P, and K Nanofertilizers in Sugarcane.”

The project is one of the seven components of the program “Optimization of the Production and Use of FertiGroe® N, P, and K Nanofertilizers in Selected Agricultural Crops,” funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and monitored by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD). The program aims to optimize the production process and develop application protocols of FertiGroe® N, P, and K nanofertilizers to increase yield of rice, corn, vegetables, sugarcane, coffee, cacao, and banana.

Initial results of the field evaluation trial show that the FertiGroe® nanofertilizers-treated sugarcane obtained as much as 218.76 50kg-per-hectare (Lkg/ha), which is higher than the average yield of 129.62 Lkg/ha in La Carlota Mill District, Negros Occidental. Use of FertiGroe® nanofertilizers increased nutrient uptake, minimized nutrient losses, reduced fertilizer inputs by 50%, and reduced production costs. Efficacy trials are still ongoing and are expected to be completed soon.

The Trademark of FertiGroe® has been registered at the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPhil). The products are for patent application at the IPOPhil and for registration at the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA).

These initial progress and accomplishment were discussed between the PCAARRD monitoring and evaluation team led by Dr. Juanito T. Batalon, ARMRD-PCAARRD Director and the UPLB-LGRTS project team led by Dr. Emmanuel G. Samson, during a field monitoring and evaluation visit done before the COVID-19 pandemic happened (Jacob B. Labita, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).