Improving nitrogen fertilisation efficiency by connecting soil nitrogen availability and crop yield in pursuit of greener agriculture through the design of novel urease inhibitors.
By the year 2050, the world population is predicted to approach 10 billion people, with the question of how to feed the increasing population of utmost importance. The known correlation between plant growth and nitrogen (N) uptake allows for maximised crop yield, and through manually applying nitrogen fertilisers such as urea and ammonium salts, N content in soil can be increased and plant growth maximised. However, excessive use of nitrogen fertilisers can result in significant nitrogen losses to the environment of up to 50%, leaving less available for plant uptake. Mitigating N-loss can be achieved by improving nitrogen use efficiency using synthetic urease inhibitors (UIs) to slow the enzymatic conversion of urea fertiliser to plant-available nitrogen, reducing accumulation and loss to environment. This project aims to develop new generation UIs that are more effective and applicable in diverse soils compared to commercial inhibitors to improve N efficiency. These compounds will be screened for inhibitory potential before being tested on Australian soils and plant model systems.
Benjamin (he/him) is a second year PhD student at the University of Melbourne, with his research being an intersection of organic and analytical chemistry with plant and soil science. He completed both his undergraduate and graduate studies in chemistry at the University of Melbourne (BSc, MSc), with his master’s research focused on utilising in situ mass spectrometric gas-phase radical-ion reactions to model potential degradation pathways of nitrogen-containing polymers. He was awarded the Dixson Scholarship in 2020 for excellence in his master’s studies and enjoys being actively involved in teaching undergraduate chemistry practical classes.