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Turning straw into fertiliser boosts income

Update: April, 07/2013 - 00:13
New direction: Tri shows research on cultivating a medium to produce rice seeds from straw humus.

FITOHOOCMON Joint-stock Company managing director Le Van Tri has developed an organic product to process and turn straw into fertiliser, offering a solution to agricultural pollution caused by burning. Luong Thu Huong reports


Every afternoon during the harvest seasons, in May or early September, you can see columns of smoke rising from paddy fields.

The increasing mechanisation of farming in recent years led to a decrease in the number of cattle, which in turn resulted in a decreased need for the straw, left over from the rice harvest. Farmers burn it.

But scientists say this practice poses serious health hazards, to both humans and the environment.

Le Van Tri, PhD, managing director of FITOHOOCMON Joint-Stock Company, has spent years researching agricultural technology. His most recent creation is Fito-Biomix RR, an organic product to process and turn straw into fertiliser–offering a solution to the pollution caused by burning straw.

"Unlike other kinds of fertiliser, it does not contain any elements that are pathogenic for plants," Tri says. "And it helps improve the fertility of the soil as inorganic fertilisers cannot, especially when it comes to increasing the amount of helpful microorganisms."

Normally, it takes straw from six to eight months to rot, but using Fito-Biomix RR, a farmer can have rotten straw in about 25 days no matter what the weather is like.

One tonne of straw can produce 10kg of nitrogenous fertiliser, 9.5 kg of phosphate and 21kg of kali. This means that after subtracting expenses, a farmer can collect interest of VND235,000 (US$11.8).

"If 50 per cent of the straw nationwide is processed into fertiliser, the profits could reach VND5.300 billion ($265 million) per year," Tri says.

Problem solved: Le Van Tri (right) explains the process of turning straw into fertiliser. — File Photos

Tri's method is easy to put into wide use. Currently, he is introducing the technique in the northern provinces of Hai Duong, Bac Giang and Bac Ninh.

In addition to instructing farmers how to compost straw after harvest, he also offers local workshops on producing Fito-Biomix RR.

Just 60 days after applying the method, the redundant straw in B́nh Giang District in Hai Duong Province had become useful compost, said Nguyeăn Phuong Vu, manager of the province's Agricultural Department.

The success of Fito-Biomix RR was acknowledged with the first prize in the Viet Nam Fund for Supporting Technological Creations Awards last March.

After this victory, FITOHOOCMON Company adopted a new research direction: cultivating a medium to produce rice and vegetable seeds from straw humus.

After 40 years pursuing science with an emphasis on sustainable agricultural development, Tri has come up with 16 inventions. His determination and creativity was recognised last October, when he received the Viet Nam Book of Records title for the most prolific inventor in the biotechnology field.

"Many people have told me that it is very difficult to make money by pursuing science, but I still remain faithful to my research," Tri says. "Maybe science is my destiny and I cannot live without it. To be honest, I feel that research can bring very little personal benefit to the scientist, but when applied widely in the community, it can be very useful to society, especially to farmers. Even though my research is difficult and costly, I'm still determined to work on it." — VNS

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