Kansas Conservation Series: Kansas Efforts in Research May Lead to New Sustainable Fertilizers

Wichita, KS – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. is continuing his conservation series highlighting Kansans’ voluntary efforts to take better care of the environment. Stories will be released throughout the 2023 Farm Bill legislative process.

“While we hold hearings for the 2023 Farm Bill, I want to highlight how hard Kansans work every day to protect our environment and conserve precious resources that our Ag economy needs to thrive. Kansas farmers, ranchers, growers, and producers are finding unique and practical ways to preserve our land and protect our water and air. Their efforts are worthy of everyone’s praise,” said Senator Marshall.

Last month, a two million dollar grant was awarded to Wichita State University through the National Science Foundation to explore the production of new fertilizers which aims to reduce agriculture emissions like carbon dioxide as well as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.The projects end goal is to develop a fertilizer manufacturing system powered entirely by renewable energy in order to create green urea fertilizers that could be used on farms.

The production of “green fertilizer” is modeled after the natural nitrogen cycle in crops. Wasted nitrogen and carbon is a result of a living organism’s metabolic process, in which the organism excretes the excess nutrients that it does not need back into the environment. In some cases, this waste, when misplaced, can create ecological challenges and result in harmful environmental impacts. 

The scientists at Wichita State plan to develop and test nitrogen sensors in crops to examine this waste and repurpose it into a fertilizer for agriculture production. In addition to their research, WSU will be educating area farmers and ranchers as well as rural communities on this new type of fertilizer and future opportunities that it could bring to the agriculture industry as a whole.

Fertilizer is vital to agriculture; expanded domestic production of green fertilizers could lead to more jobs in rural America, less nutrient runoff in our rivers and streams, and less dependence on foreign adversaries. 

America’s farmers and ranchers are dedicated to producing the highest quality food in the world while preserving earth’s resources. When we cut through the red tape and utilize the cutting edge research and technology developed at institutions like WSU we get better outcomes for food production. 

I look forward to the outcomes of Wichita State’s research, and Go Shocks!