Iowa research team lands NSF funding to boost crop yields

Iowa research team lands NSF funding to boost crop yields

A research team at the University of Iowa has been awarded $750,000 to develop a natural growth additive in fertilizer that aims to improve crop yields.

The researchers, led by Ned Bowden, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, will investigate incorporating minute amounts of hydrogen sulfide into the fertilizer farmers use to accelerate crop growth and increase harvest yields.

“We’re just trying to speed everything along,” says Bowden, a synthetic chemist.

Hydrogen sulfide is a natural compound found in the human body and in the environment. It is harmless in small concentrations.

The researchers have partnered with Stutsman, an agricultural products supplier based in Hills, Iowa, to test the fertilizer growth additive on two acres of corn and soybeans in eastern Iowa. The team also is testing the fertilizer on Miscanthus grass, which is a burgeoning clean-energy source for the university’s main power plant, which provides steam for heating, cooling, and sterilization to buildings as well as providing energy security for all UI campus facilities.

The U.S. National Science Foundation, through its The Partnerships for Innovation program, will fund the research for three years.

Other principal investigators on the award are Erin Irish, associate professor in the Department of Biology, and Aliasger Salem, Bighley Chair and professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and head of the Division of Pharmaceutics and Translational Therapeutic in the College of Pharmacy.

Contacts: 

Richard Lewis, Office of Strategic Communication, 319-384-0012