Nano Urea Fertiliser

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    • Recently, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers allowed commercial use of Nano urea.

    About Nano urea

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    • Meaning: Nano urea is a liquid fertilizer developed by IFFCO. It is an alternative to conventional urea. 
      • It is essentially urea in the form of a nanoparticle.
        • Urea is a chemical nitrogen fertilizer, white in colour, which artificially provides nitrogen, a major nutrient required by plants.
    • Aim: It aims to reduce farmers’ dependence on packaged urea.
    • Fertiliser Control Order (FCO) 1985: It is based on existing rules that provisionally allow fertilizers to be used based on data from only two cropping seasons.
      • The usual practice for recommending or rejecting a new fertilizer for commercial use required three seasons of independent assessment by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), but in the case of nano urea this was reduced to two.
    • Production data: By FY25, around 440 million bottles of 500 ml nano urea will be produced. This will be equivalent to around 20 million tonnes of urea. It will take care of the 9 million tonnes that India imports annually. 
    • Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU): National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited (RCF) have signed Non Disclosure Agreement & Memorandum of Understanding with IFFCO to transfer the technology of Nano Urea. 
      • This is aimed at increasing the indigenous production of Nano Urea. 
    • Import data: The country’s domestic urea production is around 26 million tonnes, while demand is around 35 million tonnes. And, the gap is met through imports. 
      • The government will save foreign exchange of Rs 40,000 crore approximately per annum after replacing the conventional urea with the Nano Urea.
      • The import of urea may not be required after 2023-24. 

    Potential benefits

    • It has a shelf life of a year: and farmers need not be worried about “caking” when it comes in contact with moisture.
    • Pricing: It comes in a half-litre bottle priced at Rs 240, and carries no burden of subsidy currently. 
      • By contrast, a farmer pays around Rs 300 for a 50-kg bag of heavily subsidised urea.
    • Efficiency: The conventional urea has an efficiency of about 25 percent; the efficiency of liquid nano urea can be as high as 85-90 per cent.
    • Absorption: Liquid nano urea is sprayed directly on the leaves and gets absorbed by the plant.
      • Fertilisers in nano form provide a targeted supply of nutrients to crops, as they are absorbed by the stomata, pores found on the epidermis of leaves. 
    • Lower subsidy Bill: It will reduce the country’s subsidy bill and it is aimed at reducing the unbalanced and indiscriminate use of conventional urea.
    • Other benefits:
      • Application of Nano Urea results in better crop productivity.
      • This is regarded as an excellent alternative to chemical fertilisers because it promotes growth and reduces environmental pollution.
      • Nano-fertilisers also reduce the crop cycle period and increase crop yield.
      • The unique properties of nanoparticles, such as high absorption capacity, the increased surface to volume ratio, and controlled-release kinetics to targeted sites, make them a potential plant growth enhancer.

    Limitations of Nano-Fertilisers

    • Lack of a nano-fertiliser risk management system
    • Lack of production and availability of nano fertilisers in required quantities. This limits the wider scale adoption of nano-fertilisers as a source of plant nutrients.
    • The high cost of nano fertilisers
    • Lack of standardisation in the formulation process. This brings about different results of the same nanomaterial under various pedoclimatic conditions.

    Difference between Nano urea and conventional urea

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    Way Forward

    • Department has also issued guidelines for development of entrepreneurs for drone spraying of liquid fertilisers.
    • Use of Nano Urea is promoted through different activities such as awareness camps, webinars, nukkad nataks, field demonstrations, kisan sammelans and films in regional languages etc.
    • The Prime Minister recently inaugurated the country’s first liquid nano urea plant at Kalol.

    Source: TH