Russian Scientists Simplify Search for Environmentally Friendly Fertilizers

© AP Photo / Jerome DelayFarm employees spread fertilizer on a farm in Gerdau, North West province, South Africa, Nov. 19, 2018
Farm employees spread fertilizer on a farm in Gerdau, North West province, South Africa, Nov. 19, 2018 - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 22.07.2023
Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) is one of the leading universities of Russia in engineering fields. It tops Russia's rankings in the field of petroleum engineering and ranks first in disciplines such as energy, chemical technology and nuclear technology, the university's website states.
The results of a study conducted by scientists at Tomsk Polytechnic University together with Russian and foreign colleagues will facilitate the search for deposits of environmentally friendly fertilizers for agriculture, the authors of the work published in Applied Clay Science say.
According to Maxim Rudin, the head of the research group and associate professor of the Department of Geology at Tomsk Polytechnic University, the scientific team managed to establish direct links between various ancient volcanic rocks (volcanites) and potential deposits of specific clay minerals-fertilizers. Unlike nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, clay minerals with a high content of iron, silicon and potassium are completely harmless to the environment. At the same time, they have been shown to improve soil properties and increase yields.
One such mineral, says Rudmin, is glauconite, a potassium-containing layered aluminosilicate. Glauconite can be used on its own or in combination with other fertilizers in agriculture or home floriculture.
Scientists believe that the search for glauconite deposits will simplify the patterns revealed by scientists thanks to the mineral and geochemical analysis of rock samples from the North Minusinsk Hollow in Siberia.
"We have found out the dependences of the appearance of clay minerals based on ancient volcanites. So, the main product of the change of a volcanic rock called trachyte in a marine environment will be the mineral glauconite, for rhyodacite it is illite, and smectites and chlorites are found mainly in trachyandesite," Rudmin said.
According to the scientist, the results of the study not only simplify the search for deposits of clay rocks, but also have fundamental importance: understanding the evolution of minerals will help in dating ancient volcanic eruptions around the world.
The research team also hopes to gain new insights into the conditions under which other secondary minerals are formed in the rocks studied. This will make it possible to describe the conditions and stages of transformation of the volcanic substrate in the seafloor environment, the university said.
The study was carried out in collaboration with specialists from other universities in Russia, as well as scientists from India and Spain.
A harvester collects wheat in Semikarakorsky District of Rostov-on-Don region near Semikarakorsk, Southern Russia, Wednesday, July 6, 2022. Russia is the world's biggest exporter of wheat, accounting for almost a fifth of global shipments. It is expected to have one of its best ever crop seasons this year. Agriculture is among the most important industries in Russia, accounting for around 4% of its GDP, according to the World Bank. (AP Photo) - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 22.07.2023
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Regarding TPU's cooperation with African countries, it is worth mentioning that, this month, Lesley Akua Akyaa Opoku-Ware, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Ghana in Russia, took part in the graduation ceremony of the university and congratulated the graduates. It was her visit to Tomsk, TPU's website reported.

"It is a great honor for me to have been invited to this event by the rector and the university management. I am delighted to see so many talented young people here today and pleased to know that the fate of the world will be in good hands [...]. It is also encouraging that graduates from Tomsk, a city that brings together people from all over the world, will take part in the development of future technologies. I extend my deepest congratulations to today's graduates [...]. Today, the entire world is open to you and our countries are expecting new achievements from you. So, embark on a new life, use the potential built up during your studies for good!" the ambassador said.

In 2015, the first international nuclear master's program was launched at TPU. Students from over 20 countries enlisted in the program, including those from Egypt, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Sudan, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, according to university's website.