Research and Development

The focus of our fertiliser extension and research programs is on the efficient use of existing fertiliser products and the development of enhanced efficiency fertilisers.


Considerable emphasis is placed on applying these products in the right place and at the right time. Soil and plant tissue analysis are used to better predict the rates at which fertilisers should be applied, and the use of computer based decision support tools to fine tune fertiliser programs is gaining favour within the industry.


 Our Nutrient Advantage Laboratory Services is NATA accredited and operates in accordance with the international standard ISO/IEC 17025. The lab is also ASPAC Accredited and participates in proficiency studies. Our accreditations are a reliable indicator of the technical competence of a facility to perform specific tests. Nutrient Advantage Laboratory Services delivers consistently high quality analytical results by employing nationally and internationally recognised standardised analytical methods.   

We operate one of the largest commercial plant nutrition research and development programs in Australia, with more than 30 replicated research trials per annum, often in conjunction with customers, independent organisations and agronomists.


Our long term experiments aim to produce insights that benefit Australian farmers and allow them to improve fertiliser use efficiency and adopt sustainable fertiliser practices. We are also committed to helping farmers improve productivity and profitability through expanding and developing our range of products and services. The development of new fertilisers is driven by the needs of farmers and is focused on improving nutrient use efficiency, flexibility and environmental performance. One of our sustainability keystone projects is the establishment of a joint research partnership to study nitrogen losses from conventional and enhanced efficiency fertilisers to reduce environmental impacts of fertiliser use. IPL offers two enhanced efficiency fertilisers:

 • Entec® is a treatment that retains nitrogen in the stable ammonium form for an extended period. This reduces nitrogen losses to leaching (waterways) and / or denitrification (losses to the atmosphere) while conserving more nitrogen for plant uptake. During 2015, trials have demonstrated the potential for significant cane yield increase with the use of Entec. Read about the results of these trials on page 9 of the June-July edition of Australian Sugarcane.

Green Urea NV™ is a top dressing fertiliser, recommended where volatilisation losses of ammonia are likely. Green Urea NV products contain urea treated with the urease inhibitor, N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT), and are aimed at delaying hydrolysis of urea into unstable forms that may be lost to the atmosphere, thereby reducing emissions related to fertiliser usage. Green Urea NV can help to protect against volatilisation losses, particularly for:

• intensive dairy and beef pasture production

• irrigated cotton where urea is applied mid-season

• agronomic forestry situations

• field crops where urea is applied to bare soil or soon after crop germination.

This year we continued two three-year joint research projects with the University of Melbourne into:

Mitigation of indirect greenhouse gases in intensive agricultural production systems with the use of inhibitors

Reducing nitrous oxide emissions from applied nitrogen with nitrification inhibitors through identification of key drivers of performance.

These projects are jointly funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and continue our long standing association with the University of Melbourne. We are also funding research into enhanced efficiency fertilisers in cereals, grass pastures, sugarcane, potatoes, bananas and vegetable crops.


Within our Explosives business, efforts to mitigate the environmental impacts of our products continue to be focused on using more sustainable input materials and reducing the impacts associated with product use.

Our Explosives business has partnered with the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia to conduct a number of projects aimed at reducing the instance of NOx formation and, if formed, ways to treat the pollution. The projects include:

Effects of different additives in AN prill on NOx formation during thermal decomposition of AN is addressing the question of whether incorporating different additives in ammonium nitrate prill will reduce the likelihood of NOx fume.

Modelling of reactions of NOx and biomass molecules during detonation

This project investigated the use of biomass as a scavenger for NOx molecules, which are formed during the detonation of explosives. Significant work determining the reaction pathways in the NOx forming process has been performed. The initial project has been completed and we are continuing to fund the next steps of work in this area to characterise high temperature combustion reactions at a new laboratory at Murdoch university in Perth, Australia.

In North America, we have developed technology that allows the use of bio-fuels and bio-fuel by-products as an alternative to petroleum-derived hydrocarbons for the manufacture of blasting agents and bulk emulsion products. This technology has been enabled in our product line, though take up has been slow due to limited product availability and the relative costs associated with using bio-fuels if the mine site is not located close by. We continue to offer this service to our North American customers and expect greater uptake in the future. 

We are also working with customers to introduce technologies that use petrochemicals extracted from waste materials as part of the explosive composition. Waste materials such as discarded tyres and waste oil from machinery are ideal candidates for use, particularly at remote mine sites where trucking virgin materials in and waste materials out consumes resources and time. During 2015 we continued testing third party extracted materials in Australia and will continue to text non-traditional sources for recycling hydrocarbons in 2016. In addition, the recycling of 'out of specification' (OOS) materials has been developed significantly by our laboratories during 2015, with further investment planned for 2016.

List of research organisations funded