Project consortium and fund



Funding body


Prof. Fausto Gallucci

Eindhoven University of technology (Netherlands)

Netherlands-NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research)


Dr. Stella Kabiri

National Agricultural Research Organisation (Uganda)

Uganda – UNCST (Uganda National Council for Science and Technology)


Dr. Francis Tetteh

Soil Research Institute (Ghana)

Ghana – CSIR-STEPRI (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Science and Technology Policy

Research Institute)


Dr. Filipe Soares

Associação Fraunhofer Portugal Research (Portugal)

Portugal – FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia)


Prof. Darelle van Greunen

Nelson Mandela University

South Africa – NRF (National Research Foundation)


Thematic area of the project:        

  • Food security
  • Food technology and safety
  • Soil science and remote sensing

Project’s summary/abstract:

The project is to develop a green-energy driven technology solution to support the on-site fertiliser production in Africa, providing cost-affordable fertilisers to local small-scale farms. This will contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture and food systems in Africa. The proposed research is based on nitrogen fixation with non-thermal plasma technology, which has been intensively developed in the applicant’s research group. Using nothing else than air or N2/O2 (air with additional oxygen) as raw material, NOx is produced through the chemical reaction in plasma which is generated from a variety of renewable energy sources such solar, wind and biomass. This research will enable the production of liquid fertilisers on demand to be applied directly to the soil, dissolved into irrigation water for foliar application. Test plants will be built in Uganda, South Africa and Ghana with a practical study of the soil and crops’ conditions. The use of sensor technology attached to mobile devices will be explored to enhance the quality of soil and food. Even more, it is meant to provide rural farmers with the necessary knowledge and insights. It is the medium to allow relegation of process monitoring to central computer systems (Chemical Internet of Things) to achieve maximum results. An environmental and economical assessment will be provided to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the sustainability impact brought by the new technology and processes.The success of this project will open a new window of opportunity in the development of sustainable agriculture in Africa as well as other regions in the world.

Project’s main objective:

The ultimate goal of this research is to improve sustainable small-scale farming in Africa. To achieve this, three goals are planned to reach in this proposed research: (1) provide a green fertiliser production process for sustainable agriculture; (2) reduce the yield gap in African agriculture using a cost-affordable fertiliser; (3) improve farmer’s knowledge and awareness of agriculture by training and online chat centre.  The main objective of this project is to develop on-site fertiliser production mini-plants to provide cost-affordable fertiliser, and combining with the development of sensors and ICT technology to enhance the quality of soil and food production.  This research will include:

  • Lab scale development of fertilizer mini-plant
  • Development of sensors and ICT enables process control and provide information (soil, weather, liquid fertilizer, market price etc)
  • Agronomic/soil research based on liquid fertilizer and local farming situation.
  • Implementation of mini-plant in Africa.
  • Evaluate sustainability and economic impact.
  • Training and education provided (especially to local female and youth)

Theory of Change and Impact Pathway

Expected outputs:                                                     

Please list with very brief description the most expected results of the project (e.g., new technology, new product, scientific publication, etc.).

It is expected to develop advanced plasma based N-fixation technology and related fertiliser production plant for the agriculture in Africa. The test plant will be able to produce low cost fertilisers at least 40% cheaper than the existing price (~1 dollar/kg). The capacity of the test plant should reach 2 mol of NO3- /day, enough to produce 1.24 kg of liquid solution with 10% KNO3 Concentration for distribution and dilution. Considering the average fertiliser (Urea) usage of 13 kg/ha over a year, the test plant will be enough to supply more than 1.5 hectare of farmland. A better understanding of the agronomic and environmental aspect will be gained. A better management of resources for both the fertiliser production and local farming can be achieved through ICT/mobile technology. Training and education will be provided through the research to support local farmers with their farming activities.

Expected outcomes:                                            

Please list with very brief description the most expected outcomes of the project (e.g., the changes in behaviour, relationships, actions and activities of stakeholders as a result of the sharing and uptake of research.).

  • Costaffordable liquid fertiliser
  • Improvement of fertilising local small-scale farms
  • Educated and trained farmers
  • Sustainable fertiliser production process
  • Narrow the gender gap in agriculture
  • Employment of youth in agriculture

Project impact                                           

In simplified words to non-scientific community please describe how your project will change economic, environmental or social conditions.

Success of this proposed research will generate outcomes such as a sustainable onsite fertiliser production process which providing cost-affordable liquid fertiliser and improvement of fertilising local small-scale farms. Farmers will be trained and educated, the gender gap in Africa agriculture will be narrowed and emplyment of youth in farming will be increased. Finally, a series of impact can be made which largely benefit the famers, enviroment, agriculture and society. This research project could help establish sustainable agriculture and its stimulate grow, Improve the life, wealth and well-being of farmers, including financial condition and level of education, provide a green process for sustainable agriculture and Promote youth and women’s role in agriculture.