Nanofertilizers in soils and nitrous oxide emissions

Call for Proposals
USD 199.899
Counterpart Amount:
USD 436.735
Execution time
42 Months
Total Amount:
USD 636.634
Participating countries:
Colombia Colombia Ecuador Ecuador
Funding source:
FONTAGRO Amount 31% Other agencies 0% Counterpart Amount 69%

Executive Summary

Inefficienct nutrient use in fertilization processes has led to soil degradation, nutrient leaching, water pollution, high greenhouse gas emissions, and poor production models. Nano-fertilizers are considered an alternative with great potential. In this project, formulations of nano-fertilizers based on titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and zeolite will be synthesized and characterized. The effect of the application of nano-fertilizers on fertilization efficiency, nutrient use, physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the soil, biomass production, spectral response of crops, and evaluation of nitrous oxide and carbon emissions dioxide will be quantified. A spin-off business model will be created to promote access to nano-fertilizers for producers and technological support in fertilization models. Finally, a technological model will be consolidated for the application and distribution of nano-fertilizers with the corresponding technical support and training.

The technological solution

Synthesize and characterize titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and zeolite nano-fertilizers to evaluate their effect on fertilization, nutrient use, and nitrous oxide emissions. Parallel experiments (in Colombia and Ecuador) will be carried out under greenhouse and field conditions. The greenhouse tests will be carried out using Lolium perenne cultures established in 0.25 m2 experimental trays with 50 kg of Inceptisol soil. Field trials will be carried out using corn crops in 48 experimental plots.

Acute phytotoxicity tests will be conducted with terrestrial indicator organisms (Lactuca sativa) to verify the environmental risk. 


At the end of the project, documents will be generated that demonstrate:

  1. Feasibility of the different synthesis methodologies used to formulate nano-fertilizers with active and stable surfaces
  2. Establishment of environmental risk ranking of nano-fertilizers on terrestrial organisms
  3. Establishment of methodologies for the use of nano-fertilizers that increase the efficiency in using nutrients and biomass production
  4. Evaluation of the nano-fertilizers effect on the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the soil
  5. Evaluation of potential mitigation in N2O and CO2 emissions.
  6. Categorization of the environmental impact of nano-fertilizers on a terrestrial organism under laboratory conditions using the mean effective concentration (EC50) of nano-fertilizer evaluated.
  7. Publication of scientific paper.

Currently, it has been obtained:

  • Manufacture of TiO2, ZnO and zeolite nanofertilizers: analysis in crops of Avena sativa - Tithonia diversifolia - Cenchrus clandestinus - Lolium perenne - Medicago sativa - Zea mays under greenhouse.
  • Use of TiO nanoparticles, balanced fertilization in Lolium perenne crops in greenhouse conditions: Improvement in biomass production on a dry basis by 25% and in nitrogen recovery efficiency by 24%.
  • Experimental design with 12 treatments, 3 replicates per treatment, and 4 experimental cuts with 3, 6, and 9 g of balanced fertilizer: Increase biomass by 8.9% in treatments without fertilization.
  • Establishment of experimental plots with corn crops in Ecuador and Colombia.
  • Scientific article published
  • Project proposal for the Creation of the Spin-off.


The project will train 1,500 farmers to use nano-fertilizers. 500 of these producers will be direct beneficiaries applying nano-fertilizers on their farms. Producers belong to the Agricultural Society of Santander (Colombia) and the Association of Moradores of San Lorenzo de Mapsingue (Ecuador). Along the course of the project, 12 undergraduate and 4 postgraduate theses will be carried out, benefiting 16 students in total.

Currently, they have benefited:

  • 24 people who have been trained.
  • 12 undergraduate students and 1 postgraduate in Colombia.
  • 8 undergraduate students and 1 postgraduate in Ecuador.

Sustainable Development Goals

Zero Hunger Responsible consumption and production Climate action Life on land

Main donors

Participating Organizations

  • Instituto Interamericano de Cooperación para la Agricultura (IICA) - Colombia
  • Universidad Industrial de Santander (UIS) - Colombia
  • Universidad Técnica de Manabí (UTM) - Ecuador
  • Sociedad de Agricultores de Santander (SAS) - Colombia
  • Asociación de Moradores San Lorenzo de Mapasingue (ASOMOSLOM) - Ecuador

Graphics and data

Financing by country (in USD)
FONTAGRO Amount Other agencies Counterpart Amount

Geolocated Map

With the support of
Fondo Coreano de Alianza para el Conocimiento en Tecnología e Innovación (KPK)