The benefits of organic based fertilisers are to be trialled by researchers at Cranfield University as part of a new partnership with the fertiliser company Yara UK.

Researchers will trial organo-mineral fertilisers (OMF) – a new product that aims to help growers add organic matter and create a greater “nutrient store” in their soil as a result.

The two-and-a-half-year project will also act as a buffer to counter increasing fertiliser prices, and will seek to examine the environmental impacts of OMF. Current trials demonstrate no yield deficit when farmers switch to OMF products.

Dr Ruben Sakrabani, Associate Professor in Soil Chemistry at Cranfield University, said: “The partnership creates a mutually beneficial knowledge exchange between industry and academia. Fertiliser prices are skyrocketing, alongside other challenges.

“Yara is championing this OMF project and Cranfield aims to provide vital scientific insights over a 30-month period.”

The partnership is part of Cranfield’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme, a three-way venture between business, university, and a post-doctoral researcher. It will be facilitated by Dr Emma Burak, who will act as the bridge between Yara and Cranfield. Her research will combine ongoing trials and lab work.

“The main investigation will be regarding the efficacy of OMF, as well as their environmental impact,” said Emma. “These are quite broad questions, which we will hone and refine as time goes on. Current trials show no yield deficit when switching to OMF products and trials will run across multiple sites, mainly focusing on the major crops.”

Natalie Wood, Agronomy Operations Manager at Yara, said: “Whether it’s green ammonia or OMF, Yara wants to help growers become more sustainable. That becomes possible when we become more sustainable ourselves and find ways to reduce our carbon footprint.”

At the culmination of the 30-month partnership, Emma has the potential to join Yara’s team and hopes that the data will help enable the use OMF in the UK: “Ideally, OMF will be a mechanism to increase soil health without changing anything but the product you use,” she said. “That is ultimately what we’re testing for, and my role is to bridge that gap between academia and the practicalities of modern farming.”