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Developing multinutrient nitrogen fertilizers: a new concept to reduce N losses and increase crop productivity

Grant number: 22/14816-1
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: September 01, 2023 - August 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Soil Science
Principal Investigator:Rafael Otto
Grantee:Rafael Otto
Host Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Associated researchers:Hudson Wallace Pereira de Carvalho ; Izaias Pinheiro Lisboa ; José Lavres Junior


The use of stabilized, slow-release or controlled-release nitrogen fertilizers has been widely reported to increase the N use efficiency (NUE) of urea-based fertilizers. Despite reducing losses, yield gains are not often achieved and, in addition to the high costs, its large-scale adoption has been limited. Another concern is the accumulation of microplastics in the environment due to the adoption of polymers-coated fertilizers. The hypothesis of this study is that a new concept of urea-based fertilizers, called "multinutrient fertilizers", can contribute to reduce losses and increase crop yields more consistently than stabilized or controled released fertilizers. The advance of Brazilian agriculture has intensified micronutrient deficiencies, justifying the adoption of multinutrient fertilizers. The objective of this study is to evaluate the characteristics of the multinutrient fertilizers, its reaction in the soil and the effects on the nutrition and yield of the plant, with the addition of micronutrients B, Zn, Ni and Mo, with or withot the addition of the urease inhibitor N-(n-butyl ) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT). The study will be conducted in four stages: i) a screening study in nutritive solution to identify which micronutrients (B, Zn, Ni and Mo) have more potential to improve corn nutrition and yields; ii) Production of multinutrient fertilizers in laboratory followed by physicochemical characterization; iii) Determination of N-NH3 volatilization losses from multinutrient fertilizers and iv) Measurement of the performance of multinutrient fertilizers in different soils, with the corn crop. The need to maintain NBPT coating on the multinutrient fertilizer will also be evaluated. The results of this project will clarify which micronutrient has the greatest potential to reduce losses, improve nutrition and corn yield when added to urea. This is intended to be a disruptive study that may atrack attention from the industry, with a potential to generate a patent for producing multinutrient fertilizers designed for sustainable agriculture. (AU)

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