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Fertiberia celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the Award for the Best Doctoral Thesis on Agricultural Subjects, the best-financed award for agronomic research in Europe

Juan de Dios Franco Navarro, winner of this edition for his thesis “Chloride functions as a beneficial macronutrient in higher plants”

  • The Director General for Rural Development, Innovation and Agri-Food Training of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Isabel Bombal, presided over the award ceremony held in the Auditorium of the Universidad Politécnica (Polytechnic University) of Madrid.
  • For 25 years, Fertiberia has been giving awards worth close to one million Euros, thus promoting the research capacity and talent in agronomic issues for professionals in the sector.
Imagen para la noticia "Fertiberia celebra el 25º Aniversario del Premio a la Mejor Tesis Doctoral en Temas Agrícolas, el galardón a la investigación agronómica mejor dotado económicamente de Europa" mostrando a los galardonados

Madrid, 16/02/2024 – At a ceremony held at the Universidad Politécnica of Madrid, the Director General for Rural Development, Innovation and Agri-Food Training of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Isabel Bombal, presided over the 25th Anniversary ceremony for the Fertiberia Awards for the Best Doctoral Thesis on Agricultural Subjects. This award, one of Europe’s leading agricultural research awards, recognised the exceptional work of three researchers – Juan de Dios Franco Navarro, Xi Jiang Chen and Alba Lara Moreno – for their work in fertilisation and biotechnology.

  • Juan de Dios Franco Navarro, an expert in molecular genetics, was the winner of this edition for his thesis entitled “Chloride functions as a beneficial macronutrient in higher plants”, as it has been a perfect study exercise that will serve as a basis for the development of high added value fertiliser products for the sector.
  • Likewise, a runner-up prize was awarded to Xi Jiang Chen for his thesis Identification of optimal NifH and NifB proteins for nitrogenase engineering in eukaryotes, and to Alba Lara Moreno, for her thesis “Application of microbiological and chemical techniques for the recovery of soils contaminated by pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Evaluation of their viability by means of molecular biology and ecotoxicity studies”, defended at the University of Seville.

In addition to its academic prestige, the Fertiberia Award is one of the best-financed awards for agronomic research in Europe, with a total amount of 30,000 Euros to be distributed between thesis authors and supervisors. Specifically, in this edition, the author of the winning thesis received 14,000 Euros, while his thesis supervisors received 4,000 Euros. In turn, the authors of the works awarded the runners-up prizes received 2,500 Euros and their four thesis supervisors 750 Euros, respectively.

At the event, the Director General for Rural Development, Innovation and Agri-food Training, Isabel Bombal, highlighted “the challenges facing agriculture, with the need to guarantee food security for the entire population through more efficient, sustainable and profitable food production.” In this sense, she highlighted the importance of “promoting innovation and digitalisation in the agri-food sector to respond to these challenges” and emphasised that “the projects selected in these Fertiberia awards for the best doctoral thesis on agricultural subjects offer innovative solutions in the field of fertilisation and agronomy.”

On the special occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary, Javier Goñi, CEO of Grupo Fertiberia, wanted to emphasise that “this award is a stimulus to promote research of excellence that serves as a basis for developing high added value fertilisers, as well as advancing in biotechnological innovation and in the full sustainability of the agricultural sector, which are strategic pillars for this company. The fact that the Award has celebrated its 25th anniversary confirms that Grupo Fertiberia, as a leader in its sector, has a very long-term vocation in its alliance with the university.”

Likewise, the senior member of the COIACC, Francisco González, indicated that “for us it is an enormous source of satisfaction to have accompanied Fertiberia over the past 25 years without interruption. We also note each year the improvement in the quality of the theses submitted, as evidenced by the large number of high-impact publications resulting from these theses and the quality mentions that accompany several of them.”

In turn, the Director of Etsiaab, José Manuel Palacios, stressed “that the lines of research that mark the path towards greater sustainability of fertilisers include improvements in production systems and in the efficiency of use, as well as the development of biological solutions that can provide part of the nutrients to crops. The quality and thematic diversity of the winning entries in this official announcement by Fertiberia reflect the range of possibilities that are opening up in the future of sustainable fertilisation.”

The jury for this edition, chaired by the senior member of the Official Association of Agricultural Engineers of the Centre and the Canary Islands (COIACC), Francisco González Torres, was made up of the president of Grupo Fertiberia, Javier Goñi; the head of the Seed and Nursery Plant Testing Station of the National Institute for Agricultural Research and Technology (INIA), Ana Patricia Fernández-Getino; the professor of Animal Production at the University of Valladolid, Jesús Ciria; the director of Market Studies and Research of Grupo Fertiberia, Pilar García-Serrano; the director of R&D&I of Grupo Fertiberia, Javier Brañas; and professor at ETSI Agrónomos Universidad Politécnica of Madrid, Augusto Arce Martinez.

Twenty-five years of commitment to research and development in the sector

Since the award was created, more than 400 doctoral theses from 50 universities and research centres in Spain and Portugal have been considered. In addition, prizes worth close to one million Euros have been awarded, thus boosting the research capacity and talent in agronomics for professionals in the sector.

The official announcement for these Awards establishes the main requirement that the theses submitted have obtained the maximum “cum laude” qualification and that they are directly related to fertilisation, soils and their amendment, and to agricultural activity in general.

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