Designer fertiliser that will deliver the exact required nutrients at each step of growth to increase crop yields. This is what is brewing in the labs of University Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP).
Formulated specially for padi, this fertiliser will revolutionise the padi industry as it yields better and healthier crops.
The project received a RM12 million fund under the Long Term Research Grant scheme of the government designed to encourage Malaysian research teams to become technopreneurs to lead Malaysia towards becoming a high income and technology savvy nation.
The team working on this effort comprises experts in various related fields from Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka and UTP, as the leader.It was first mooted by UTP’s Professor Dr Noorhana Yahya and Associate Professor Dr Ku Zilati Ku Shaari, who play a leading role in the research and development of the fertiliser which is known as OneBAJA.
“Our goal was to create a fertiliser specifically for padi to optimise the health of the plants and that would lead to increased yields,” said the program leader of OneBAJA, Professor Noorhana, who has also invented a new method to synthesise green fertiliser using nanotechnology approach.
OneBAJA is then designed around the concept of controlled release. It uses a special coating and binding technology to incorporate different strengths of nutrients that the plant requires at its various stages of growth.
This delivers the requisite amount of nutrients at the right times to optimise plant health, with a 90% uptake of said nutrients. While reducing waste, it also makes for a much more efficient system compared to dependence on the human hand for fertilising.
“We are now evaluating how the plants themselves react to OneBAJA and are looking forward to actual testing in a greenhouse environment by July next year,” said Noorhana. She adds that once it is shown to be effective in the greenhouse, it would be ready for testing in the fields.
The increased yields, both in terms of quality and quantity, is a pathway to future food security as the world, and Malaysia, faces the dichotomy of arable land versus development needs.
OneBAJA is also a “green” product, from the production of the manufacturing plant right through to the final product. Its actual application is also in synergy with the environment, further adding to its advantage and benefits.
Once it is successful for the rice fields, the technology can be applied to produce fertiliser for other crops. This control release fertiliser will be the first of its kind in the world, strengthening UTP’s position on the map of international research.
OneBAJA initiative is just one of UTP’s many research areas which are poised to offer much benefit to industries, societies and applications across the board.
Already recognised for its educational excellence especially in the engineering and petroleum fields, UTP is well on its way to reaching its goal of gaining recognition and acknowledgement as a world-class research university.