Chemical fertilizers provide three primary nutrients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Out of the three, nitrogen supports the growth of vegetation. Phosphorus improves flowering and the development of roots. Finally, Potassium strengthens resistance to environmental attacks, from extreme temperatures to pest attacks. More than 90% of the world’s industrial production of Urea serves the purpose of a nitrogen-release fertilizer.
Urea was first created by the German chemist Friedrich Wöhler in 1828. Before that, organic sources of nitrogen such as night soil, urine, compost, and manure were the only way of delivering this vital macronutrient to the soil.
What Is Urea Fertilizer?
Urea fertilizer is the most important nitrogenous fertilizer because of its high Nitrogen content of 46%. Besides its use in the crops, it acts as a cattle feed supplement to replace protein requirements. It also has numerous industrial benefits, notably for the production of plastics. Urea often offers farmers the most nitrogen for the lowest price on the market. You must take specific steps when applying Urea to the soil to prevent nitrogen loss through a chemical reaction.
The application of Urea on the bare soil surface leads to a significant loss of ammonia by volatilization because of its rapid hydrolysis of ammonium carbonate. The use of several compounds can alter the hydrolysis of Urea called urease inhibitors. These inhibitors inactivate the enzyme and thereby prevent the rapid hydrolysis of Urea. The rapid hydrolysis of Urea in the soil is responsible for ammonia injury to seedlings. Particularly if large quantities of this material are placed with or too close to the seed. Proper placement of fertilizer urea concerning the seed can eliminate this difficulty.
Features of Urea Fertilizer
Urea is a chemical compound that is white as well as crystalline. It can adapt to almost all kinds of soil and is neutral in pH. Protein metabolism in humans and other mammals, amphibians, and fish leads to natural formation of Urea. The usage of Urea is maximum in the agricultural sector both as an animal feed additive and fertilizer.
- Urea ammonium nitrate contains between 28% to 32% nitrogen and can be mixed with herbicides and pesticides.
- Granular Urea refers o the granular nitrogen fertilizer manufactured by the reaction of carbon dioxide and ammonia. Terra produces Urea granules in SGN 250-260 and 260-270 sizes. It also contracts to manufacture Urea in specific sizes to meet customer needs. Granular Urea is solid and has a nitrogen content of 46 percent.
Urea has the highest nitrogen content among all solid nitrogenous fertilizers. Therefore, it has a low transportation cost per unit of nitrogen nutrient. Biuret is the most common impurity of synthetic Urea that slows plant growth. When Urea breaks down in the soil, Ammonia gets released and absorbed by the plant . In some soils, ammonia gets oxidized by bacteria to give nitrate, which is also a plant nutrient. The loss of nitrogenous compounds to the atmosphere and runoff is both wasteful and damaging for the environment. Hence, Urea is pre=treated or modified to increase its efficiency in agricultural use.
In the Controlled-release fertilizers method, there is encapsulation of Urea in an inert sealant. The second method is converting Urea into derivatives, such as formaldehyde, which degrade into ammonia at a pace matching plants’ nutritional requirements.
Benefits of Using Urea Fertilizer
Urea fertilizer provides the plants with nitrogen to promote green leafy growth and make the plants look lush. It aids in a plant’s photosynthesis process. The usage of Urea is only for bloom growth since Urea fertilizer can provide only nitrogen and not phosphorus or Potassium. Urea changes to ammonium carbonate in the soil, which may temporarily cause a harmful local high pH.
During the period of warm weather, Urea is applied as a top-dressing. Consequently, nitrogen may be lost from chalk or limestone soils or light sandy soils. When Urea is washed or worked into the ground, it is as effective as any other nitrogen fertilizer,
It’s most efficient utilization is on soil that has adequate moisture content. Subsequently, the gaseous ammonia can react with the moisture quickly into solution. In dry conditions during the summer, it is better to use ammonium nitrate. Chemical and bacterial action changes it to the ammonium and nitrate forms. If applied close to seeds, Urea may reduce germination.
You can blend Urea with potassium and phosphorus-rich fertilizers to create a well-balanced fertilizer. You can reference the list of fertilizers that are and are not practical to mix with Urea. Subsequently, choose phosphorus and potassium sources to add to your fertilizer mix. Many of these are available at garden supply stores and nurseries.
Add the chosen plant fertilizer together as per the weights given by your fertilizer ratio. Mix them thoroughly in a large bucket. You can also use a wheelbarrow or mechanical mixers
Impact of Urea Fertilizer on Soil
The first step is generating the nitrogen present in Urea and making it available to plants. Subsequently, generation of ammonia done by converting it to either ammonia or ammonium ions and bicarbonate ions. Naturally-occurring soil bacteria or ammonia-oxidizing bacteria does this rapidly with the enzyme urease.
In the next step, oxidization of ammonia to nitrate occurs through a process called nitrification. Nitrite gets oxidized to nitrate by nitrite-oxidizing bacteria. Nitrogen in the form of ammonium and nitrate plants most readily absorb. The nitrification process creates acidity in the soil. Thus, it would be best if you took care to neutralize excess acidity by using compounds like Effective Calcium Carbonate.
Excess of urea and surrounding environments: nitrate is very mobile in water, and leaching from agriculture is harmful to waterways. Thus, urea fertilizers are climate-friendly and a correct economical choice. However, you must take care in their application for providing the maximum benefit to your crops with a minimal impact on the environment. As with any source of nitrogen, excess Urea itself can damage the plants: nitrogen slows down or completely stops seed germination, and too much nitrogen can give crops a “burn.”
Mixing Urea Fertilizer with Other Fertilizers
Determine your ideal fertilizer ratio. Fertilizer ratios are also called N-P-K numbers. They are a series of 3 numbers that tell you how much of a fertilizer mixture, by weight, comprises fertilizers rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. It would be best to get your soil sample tested for nutrients, and they will provide an ideal fertilizer ratio. This will help you in the making up for your soil’s nutrient deficiencies.
You can combine Urea with additional fertilizers and create a stable fertilizer mixture. Urea provides plants with nitrogen, but phosphorus and potassium are also important for plant health. The following fertilizers you can safely mix and store with Urea :
- Calcium cyanamide
- Sulfate of potash
- Sulfate of potash magnesium
Mix Urea with certain fertilizers to fertilize the plants immediately. Certain fertilizers can be mixed with Urea , but they lose their effectiveness in 2-3 days due to the reactions which occur between the fertilizer’s chemicals. These include:
- Chilean nitrate
- Sulfate of ammonia
- Nitrogen magnesia
- Diammonium phosphate
- Basic slag
- Rock phosphate
You can prevent harming of crops from the unwanted chemical reactions from damaging your crops. Urea fertilizers react with fertilizers to either create a volatile chemical reaction or render the fertilizer mixture completely useless. Never combine Urea with the following fertilizers:
- Calcium nitrate
- Calcium ammonium nitrate
- Nitro Potash
- Potash ammonium nitrate
- Triple superphosphate
Spread your Urea-based fertilizer evenly across your crops. Apply your fertilizer mixture as you would apply urea on its own, spreading it evenly across the soil. Subsequently, add water and till the ground to incorporate the fertilizer.
Urea is less dense than other fertilizers. If you use spinning-type equipment to spread your Urea-based fertilizer over large distances on your farm, keep your spread width below 50 feet to apply the fertilizer mixture equally.
Urea Fertilizer – Tips and Warnings
- Always follow the directions provided with commercially available fertilizers.
- This article discusses fertilizer ratios. Do not confuse fertilizer ratios with fertilizer grades. Fertilizer ratios tell you, by weight, how much of a particular fertilizer to add to your fertilizer mix. Fertilizer grades tell you how much of each element is in your fertilizer. To use a fertilizer grade to determine a fertilizer ratio, divide each fertilizer grade by the smallest of the three numbers.
- Too much nitrate in the soil can burn plants. Applying Urea fertilizer to wet soil will help prevent burning.
- Always store Urea and ammonium nitrate separately.
Urea fertilizer is a stable, organic fertilizer that can improve your soil quality and provide nitrogen to your plants. Both of these can increase the crop yield of your crops. You can use Urea which you can get in dry, granular form. Usage of Urea fertilizer has several benefits, but it also has its share of disadvantages. Consequently, if you know how to apply Urea fertilizer to your soil correctly and how Urea interacts with other fertilizers, it can help you get maximum benefit.
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