Project Details

Pioneering PhosField Project

Working with a team at Rothamsted Research, North Wyke and supported by the Agri-tech Cornwall Project; CleanGrow is participating in a collaborative research project to help farmers and land managers to use Phosphorus more effectively. CleanGrow are the developers of an ion selective sensor which can currently measure phosphorus in hydroponic systems. In this new project, CleanGrow are working with experts at Rothamsted Research to develop a kit to adapt this technology for measuring phosphorus in soils, helping farmers and growers to apply this essential nutrient in a more cost-effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Current methods involve sending soil samples to laboratories or problematic wet chemistry kits not suitable for everyday use. The aim of the current project is to develop a fast, accurate system for extracting phosphorus from a range of soil types common to Cornwall and the South West. Phosphorus can then be measured from these samples using a range of sampling technologies such as CleanGrow’s ion selective sensor but also other methods; such as strip tests.

The research could ultimately enable farmers to move away from a “prophylactic” approach to application, saving them money, time and delivering benefits for the environment through the reduced extraction of this finite resource but also through unintended negative environmental consequences associated with phosphorus run-off from farmed land

This will help make farms more efficient and will become ever-more important in the face of increasingly stringent legislation surrounding water quality. It could also slow the rate of depletion of phosphate, a finite natural resource.

The PhosField project is aiming to create a robust kit which is simple to use, while having enough functionality to offer a step-change from the existing analysis procedure.

The project is building on previous work by the Rothamsted Research team, in which they mapped the ‘critical P curve’ showing the necessary application rates to achieve optimum yields for different crops in various soils.

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