Recently, Indian Prime Minister officially launched ‘Urea Gold’ fertiliser’. It is developed by Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd (RCF), a leading fertilizer and chemical manufacturing company in India in the Public Sector.
GS III: Agriculture
Dimensions of the Article:
- Urea Gold
- Urea Consumption in India
- Way Forward
- Urea Gold is a novel fertilizer produced by combining urea with sulfur, resulting in a composite fertilizer containing 37% nitrogen (N) and 17% sulfur (S).
- This innovative blend addresses the deficiency of sulfur in Indian soils while also enhancing nitrogen use efficiency.
Characteristics of Urea Gold:
- Urea Gold serves a dual purpose: fulfilling sulfur requirements in Indian soils and optimizing nitrogen utilization.
- Conventional urea contains a single nutrient, nitrogen (N), at 46%.
- Indian soils commonly lack sulfur, which is particularly crucial for oilseeds and pulses.
- By incorporating sulfur into the fertilizer formulation, Urea Gold provides a comprehensive nutrient profile that meets the specific needs of crops dependent on sulfur.
- An innovative aspect of Urea Gold is its potential to enhance nitrogen use efficiency (NUE).
- The sulfur coating on urea enables the gradual release of nitrogen, extending nutrient availability over time.
- This prolonged nutrient release sustains plant greenness for an extended period, allowing farmers to reduce application frequency.
- Typically, farmers apply urea when they observe leaves turning yellow.
- Urea Gold has the capability to boost crop yields by maximizing nutrient utilization.
- Gradual nutrient release minimizes wastage and improves nutrient uptake by plants, leading to increased overall productivity.
Urea Consumption in India:
- Urea is a white crystalline compound widely used as a synthetic fertilizer in Indian agriculture.
- Upon application to soil or crops, it undergoes enzymatic breakdown into ammonia and carbon dioxide.
- Ammonia is converted to ammonium ions, which plants absorb for growth.
Current Urea Consumption Status:
- Urea holds the distinction of being India’s most commonly used fertilizer.
- Consumption and sales of urea have witnessed an increase from 26.7 million tonnes (mt) to 35.7 mt between 2009-10 and 2022-23.
Similar Interventions to Urea Gold:
Neem Coated Urea:
- This variant of urea is coated with neem oil.
- The coating diminishes nitrogen losses through leaching and volatilization.
- Neem-coated urea also exhibits insecticidal and nematicidal properties, enhances soil texture and water retention.
Liquid Nano Urea:
- An advanced nanotechnology-based fertilizer applied through leaf spraying.
- Enhances crop productivity and nutritional quality.
- Reduces fertilizer consumption, improves nitrogen use efficiency, and leads to cost savings.
- Import Dependency: In the fiscal year 2022-23, out of the total 35.7 million metric tons (mt) of urea sold, 7.6 mt were imported, raising concerns about import reliance.
- Feedstock Dependency: Even domestically produced urea is heavily dependent on imported natural gas, a crucial feedstock in its production process.
- Nutrient Loss: About 65% of applied nitrogen (N) is lost due to factors like ammonia gas release into the atmosphere and nitrate leaching into the ground post-conversion.
- Decreased Nutrient Use Efficiency (NUE): The decline in NUE has led to a scenario where farmers need to use more fertilizer to achieve the same crop yield.
- Subsidy Impact: Urea receives substantial government subsidies to keep prices low for farmers.
- However, this has led to issues like overuse and inefficient consumption due to its affordability.
- Overuse Issues: The affordability of urea often prompts farmers to use more than necessary, potentially causing imbalanced nutrient application and environmental harm
- Fortification for Enhanced Nutrient Content: Urea and other fertilizers like DAP can be fortified with micronutrients to boost crop yields and improve the efficiency of imported nutrients.
- Alternative Coating: Since India has limited reserves of natural gas, rock phosphate, potash, and sulfur, considering coating fertilizers with secondary nutrients (calcium and magnesium) and micronutrients (zinc, boron, manganese, molybdenum, iron, copper, and nickel) can be more sustainable.
- Precision Agriculture Techniques: Implementing precision agriculture methods like variable rate application can tailor fertilizer use based on specific crop and soil needs, minimizing overuse and nutrient wastage.
- Comprehensive Nutrient Management: Encouraging farmers to adopt nutrient management plans that consider the NPK needs of crops can promote balanced fertilizer application, reducing reliance solely on urea.
- Diverse Cropping Patterns: Promoting diverse crops and crop rotation can reduce excessive urea demand. Leguminous crops, for instance, can fix atmospheric nitrogen, decreasing the need for nitrogen fertilizers.
- Subsidy Reform: Gradual rationalization and reform of the fertilizer subsidy system can incentivize the adoption of balanced fertilization practices. Subsidies could be directed towards alternative nutrient sources to encourage reduced urea consumption.
-Source: Indian Express