The grant will develop new bio-based, slow-release fertilizers that use microalgae produced from wastewater treatment systems. Algae biomass contains about 10% nitrogen and 5% phosphorus, which can serve as nutrients for agricultural and horticultural production. The researchers will produce algae feedstock using municipal and industrial wastewater, then formulate and manufacture fertilizer pellets composed of various levels of algae biomass, biochar, and polyactic acid (PLA). Lab testing will be done to evaluate the nutrient release characteristics. The data will allow researchers to select five formulations for lawn, greenhouse, and row-crop corn field testing.
Darren Jarboe has been the program manager for technology commercialization, marketing, and communications at the Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) at Iowa State University since 2008. He works with the CCUR Biopolymers and Biocomposites Research Team that develops biorenewable polymers from Midwest crops, encourages bioplastics and biocomposites in industry, and researches new formulation and processing techniques. Jarboe’s past experience includes serving as program coordinator for CCUR and the Iowa State University Grain Quality Initiative; assistant certification manager and assistant secretary for the Iowa Crop Improvement Association; as well as experience in auto manufacturing and international agricultural research. He holds a Ph.D. in industrial and agricultural technology from ISU.
David Grewell, ISU Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
James Schrader, ISU Department of Horticulture
Zhiyou Wen, ISU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Antonio Mallarino, ISU Agronomy Department
John Sawyer, ISU Agronomy Department