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Production of enhanced efficiency fertilizers (EEFs) using lignocellulose nanofibrils (LCNFs) from hop (Humulus lupulus L.) stems

Grant number: 24/04255-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): May 31, 2024
Effective date (End): September 29, 2024
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agricultural Engineering - Process Engineering of Agricultural Products
Principal Investigator:Sarita Candida Rabelo
Grantee:Guilherme Mangili Vidal de Negreiros
Supervisor: Maria Soledad Peresin
Host Institution: Faculdade de Ciências Agronômicas (FCA). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Botucatu. Botucatu , SP, Brazil
Research place: Auburn University, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:23/09250-1 - Evaluation of Nanocellulose Production from Lignocellulosic Residue from Hop Culture, BP.IC


The growth of the world population requires a significant increase in agricultural productivity, and the use of fertilizers has a great impact on this process. However, fertilizers currently used on the market present application problems, such as nutrient runoff, leaching, volatilization, and degradation, which can reduce nutrients availability to crops. Also, since most of the current commercial fertilizers are made from synthetic polymers, their application contributes to ongoing environmental problems associated with non-biodegradable materials. Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEFs) are precision agriculture technologies that can decrease fertilizer application frequency through slow release and controlled delivery of nutrients, resulting in improved nutrient quality of the soli and enhanced crop productivity and yield through a sustainable farming solution with lower operational cost, increase fertilizer retention in crops and slow down the nutrient release. Nanoscale lignocellulosic materials can be considered as attractive raw materials for formulating EEFs, as they are biodegradable, and provide improved nutrient delivery and adsorption by crops, in addition to lower cost when compared to purified nanocellulose. Hop crop residue is a waste of hop crop processing with no market value. Relatively high cellulose and lignin content in its chemical composition makes it an attractive potential candidate for EEF production for controlled delivery of nutrients. Therefore, the objective of this project is to evaluate the potential of the pretreated nanostructured hop residue as a matrix for the production of EEFs containing nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K) and validate their controlled release performance. For this purpose, lignocellulose nanofibrils (LCNFs) will be produced using mechanical refining of pretreated pulps, followed by cold alkali dissolution and acid regeneration will be used to produce beads from LCNFs. Physicochemical characterization of LCNFs and beads will be done using different characterization techniques. The beads will then be loaded by soaking in saturated nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K) solutions to produce EEFs. The EEFs will be evaluated for nutrient release profile to validate their controlled release performance. Finally, surface coating using hydrophobic materials will be conducted on EEFs to study their potential positive effect on increasing the retention and delaying release of NPK.

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