Environment & Biodiversity Science & Tech

Urea Gold: Improving Urea Efficiency

  • Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers Ltd (RCF) has launched “Urea Gold,” a fortified fertiliser that blends urea with sulphur to improve nitrogen usage efficiency (NUE).
  • It aims to address the issues of rising urea consumption and decreased agricultural efficiency.

What exactly is Urea Gold?

  • “Urea Gold” is a fortified fertiliser that combines urea and sulphur to improve NUE and crop performance.
  • NUE Enhancement: The reinforced combination ensures steady nitrogen release, preserving plant health and potentially reducing the frequency of fertiliser application.

Urea Consumption Issues and NUE Decline

  • Urea usage Increases: Between 2009-10 and 2022-23, urea usage increased from 26.7 million tonnes to 35.7 million tonnes, making it India’s primary fertiliser choice.
  • Import Reliance: Domestic urea production is mainly reliant on imported natural gas. India’s annual consumption is second only to China’s, where coal-based production dominates.
  • NUE is declining: Only approximately 35% of urea nitrogen is beneficial to crops, prompting worries about resource waste and excessive fertiliser use.

Fertiliser Solution fortified

  • Coating Strategy: In fortified fertilisers, primary nutrients (N, P, K) are coated with secondary nutrients (S, calcium, magnesium) and micronutrients (zinc, boron, manganese, and so on).
  • Coated fertilisers operate as “carrier products” for secondary and micronutrients, enhancing N and P use efficiency and assuring controlled nutrient delivery.
  • Yara International’s innovation: The “Procote” method allows for micronutrient coating, resulting in increased fertiliser efficacy.
  • Confirmation of Efficacy: The trials demonstrated that micronutrient-coated fertilisers increased paddy and wheat yields, potentially alleviating NUE issues.

Pricing and Distribution Issues

  • Pricing Issues: Existing subsidies for coated fertilisers such as zincated urea and boronated DAP may not incentivize producers to market fortified goods.
  • Obstacles to Farmer Adoption: Farmers have been discouraged from adopting coated choices due to price differences between fortified and non-fortified fertilisers.
  • Advocates recommend factory-level coating to promote uniform nutrition delivery and user ease. The elimination of maximum retail pricing (MRPs) for coated fertilisers may increase adoption.
  • Striking a Pricing Balance: Because traditional fertilisers are heavily subsidised, fortified product premiums must stay fair in order to encourage affordability.
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