News: Nano urea fast-tracked for approval despite incomplete trials.
GS Paper 3: Technology Missions; Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life; Awareness in the fields of Nano-technology.
What is liquid nano urea?
- Nano Urea contains nitrogen in the form of a nanoparticle i.e. hundred thousand times finer granules than a sheet of paper.
- Urea i.e. white in colour is a chemical nitrogen fertilizer responsible for providing artificial nitrogen which is a major nutrient requirement of plants.
- Kalol based IFFCO’s Nano Biotechnology Research Centre (NBRC) had developed the product.
How does liquid nano urea work?
- Targeted supply of nutrients to crops are provided by fertilizers in nano form: Liquid nano urea is sprayed directly on the leaves and gets absorbed by the stomata, pores found on the epidermis of leaves of plant.
- Nano particle in form of Nano Urea are different from the coarse particles that are normall thrown by farmers onto the soil during sowing, but Nano urea when applied on to the leaves, stimulates a range of enzymes, like nitrase and nitrite reductase, helping plants to metabolise nitrogen.
- Process used by Liquid Nano urea is “organic polymers” that helps in keeping the ‘nano’ particles of nitrogen stable and in a form that can be sprayed onto plants.
- In Liquid nano urea 4 per cent total nitrogen (w/v) evenly dispersed in water. Particle size of a nano nitrogen varies from 20-50 nm.
- Advise from IFFCO (maker of liquid nano urea): At active growth stages of plants 2-4 ml of nano urea should be mixed in a litre of water and sprayed on crop leaves.
What are the advantages of liquid nano urea over conventional urea?
- Liquid Nano urea will help in reduction of the country’s subsidy bill: India is paying high fertiliser subsidy as it is mostly dependent on imports of this fertiliser. Fertilizer Subsidy payout of government in this financial year will be Rs 2 lakh crore, up 25 per cent from the Rs 1.6 lakh crore it paid last year.
- No-burden of subsidy of liquid nano urea: Farmer pays around Rs 300 for a 50-kg bag of heavily subsidised urea but liquid nano urea produced by Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) Limited comes in a half-litre bottle priced at Rs 240, and carries no burden of subsidy.
- Unbalanced and indiscriminate use of conventional urea leading to degradation of soil that will be reduced by liquid nano urea.
- Liquid Nano urea will increase crop productivity, and reduce soil, water, and air pollution.
- High efficiency of liquid nano urea compared to conventional urea: Efficiency of liquid nano urea is as high as 85-90 per cent compared to conventional urea that has an efficiency of about 25 per cent.
- Reduction in urea wastage: Multitude of factors ranging from spraying to the soil quality defines the efficiency of urea. But, currently, 70% of the urea applied today is wasted and remaining 30% actually makes it to the plant.
- Failure of conventional urea to make desired impact on crops due to its incorrect applications: Many times the nitrogen in it is vaporised or lost as gas and also a lot of nitrogen is also washed away during irrigation.
- High shelf life of liquid nano urea compared to conventional urea: Liquid nano urea has a shelf life of a year, and there is no worry of “caking” when it comes in contact with moisture.
- High international market price of a bag of conventional urea that is between Rs 3,500 and Rs 4,000, But, a bottle of the nano urea can effectively replace at least one bag of urea.
Issues associated with application of liquid Nano urea:
- Scientists are puzzled that how Nano urea sold in 500 ml bottles that has only 4% nitrogen (or around 20 gm) will compensate for chemically packaged urea that is 46% nitrogen, means 20 kg of nitrogen in 45 kg sack.
- Unclarity on effectiveness of Nano urea: Questions remains how nanoparticles can increase the effectiveness of nitrogen uptake by being still smaller as urea is highly water soluble and already reaches the lowest form of concentration when absorbed.
- Lack of Data that shows the effectiveness of foliar spraying (spraying on leaves) in improving fertilizer uptake
- Superfluous Data that shows the increase in yields due to Nano Urea as it was simply explained by the fact that in the first year, the nitrogen present in the soil and fertilizer was sufficient, due to which supplying nitrogen via Nano Urea will not change anything on ground.
- Difficulty in bringing behavior change in farmers: Farmers became accustomed to packaged urea so it will become difficult to wean them away from packaged urea overnight as these are deeply ingrained behaviors.
Sources:-The Hindu; Indian Express
- The Hindu:- https://bit.ly/3TUUT4h;https://bit.ly/3qoFADk; https://bit.ly/3B6AlgC
- Indian Express:-https://bit.ly/3S8gd4T