Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges


Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers facilitate the growth of crops, including corn, at yields that provide sustained global food production. However, fertilizers applied without consideration of the appropriate rate, timing, source, and method, can have harmful effects on the environment and human health. “Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizer” (EEF) is a term for new formulations that control fertilizer release or alter reactions that reduce nutrient losses to the environment. EEFs and other next generation product technology innovations may be an important addition to a system of conservation practices that help reduce the impacts from row crop agriculture on the environment, while maintaining or increasing agricultural productivity and profitability.

Goal of the Two Challenges

To help mitigate these adverse effects, EPA is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to launch the Joint EPA-USDA Partnership and Competition on Next Gen Fertilizers to Advance Agricultural Sustainability in the United States. Along with EPA and USDA, the competition is in collaboration with The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

This Partnership is being coordinated with input from stakeholders such as corn grower representatives, fertilizer companies, university researchers, and environmental and industry NGOs. This competition includes two challenges which aim to accelerate the development and use of existing and new product technologies that are affordable to reduce the environmental impacts of U.S. corn production. The results of the Partnership may ultimately be leveraged to improve production of other crops and in the U.S. and abroad.

1. EEFs: Environmental and Agronomic Challenge

This Challenge aims to identify existing EEFs currently on or near-market that meet or exceed certain environmental and agro-economic criteria.

Challenge Start Date: 9:00 AM ET, August 26, 2020

Challenge End Date: 11:59 PM ET, October 30, 2020

Prizes: Winners of the EEFs: Environmental and Agronomic Challenge will receive scientific evaluation and recognition from EPA, USDA, and other partners and participants; advancement to a greenhouse trial (Stage 2); and, pending greenhouse trial results and available funds, advancement to field trials (Stage 3). No monetary prize awarded. Winners of Stage 1 will also be invited to a showcasing event (date and location to be determined), where winners of both Challenges will share ideas and spark innovation.

Registration is not required prior to submission.

To participate and for more information go to the page

2. Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge

This Challenge aims to identify concepts for novel technologies for fertilizers and other product technology innovations that can reduce the environmental effects from modern agriculture while maintaining or increasing crop yields. Submissions to the Next Gen Fertilizer Innovation Challenge may include technologies that are not currently on the market or technology concepts that are not traditional EEFs and not in commercial use as a fertilizer.

Challenge Start Date: 9:00 AM ET, August 26, 2020

Challenge End Date: 11:59 PM ET, November 30, 2020

Prizes: Winners of the Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge will receive minimum $10K award per winner from a total prize purse of $40,000 and be invited to the showcasing event (date and location to be determined), where winners of both Challenges will share ideas and spark innovation.

Registration: Solvers are REQUIRED to register for this Challenge.

To register, enter and for more information go to the page

Informational Webinar

An informational webinar for the two Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges will be held on September 24, 2020 at 10:00 AM – 11:00AM ET. This webinar will walk through the details of the Challenges and allow time for questions and answers with technical leads from the Partner and Collaborator organizations. Participation in the informational webinar is not required for either challenge.

Sign up* for the webinar here. 

*Signing up for the informational webinar does NOT register you for the Next Gen Innovation Challenge. Registration for the Challenge must be competed via InnoCentive.

Contact Information

If you have questions about the the Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges email

To help raise awareness of the Challenges, please use #NextGenFertilizerChallenges in your social media posts. 

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