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

The low efficiency in the use of nutrients in the fertilization processes has led to soil degradation, nutrient leaching, water pollution, high greenhouse gas emissions, and poor production models. Accordingly, nano-fertilizers are considered as one of the alternatives with great potential. In this project, formulations of nano-fertilizers based on titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and zeolite will be synthesized and characterized. Acute phytotoxicity tests will be conducted with terrestrial indicator organisms (Lactuca sativa) to verify the environmental risk. The effect of the application of nano-fertilizers on the fertilization efficiency, use of nutrients, 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. For this, parallel experiments (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. A spin-off business model will be created to promote access to nano-fertilizers for producers and technological support in fertilization models. At the end of the project, documents will be generated that demonstrate: a) feasibility of the different synthesis methodologies to formulate nano-fertilizers with active and stable surfaces, b) establishment of environmental risk ranking of nano-fertilizers on terrestrial organisms, c) establishment of methodologies for the use of nano-fertilizers that increase the efficiency in using nutrients and biomass production, d) evaluation of the nano-fertilizers effect on the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the soil and, e) evaluation of potential mitigation in N2O and CO2 emissions. Finally, will a consolidated technological model 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.


- Images and histograms with particle sizes of the synthesized nano-fertilizers.

- Publication of scientific paper.

- X-ray diffractograms and XPS spectra.

- Categorization with the environmental impact of nano-fertilizers on a terrestrial organism under laboratory conditions using the mean effective concentration (EC50) of nano-fertilizer evaluated.

- Evaluation of the increased nutrient uptake and the efficiency of plant nutrients with the addition of nano-fertilizers.

-  Evaluation of the effect of nano-fertilizers on the soil's physical, chemical, and biological characteristics.

- Publication of scientific paper.

- Evaluation of the increase in biomass production and nutritional quality of crops/vegetation.

- Evaluation of nitrous oxide and soil carbon dioxide emissions in experiments with and without application of nano-fertilizers.


The project will train 1,500 farmers to implement the nano-fertilizers. 500 of these producers will be the 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). Besides, in the project's development, 12 undergraduate and 4 postgraduate theses will be carried out, benefiting 16 students. 

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 Técnica de Manabí (UTM) - Ecuador
  • Universidad Industrial de Santander (UIS) - Colombia
  • 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

Publications and resources

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