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NBPT and Zn association into the urea: effects on ammonia volatilization

Grant number: 21/11698-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2022
Effective date (End): April 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Soil Science
Principal Investigator:Izaias Pinheiro Lisboa
Grantee:Pedro Henrique Escaranaro Brasil
Host Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil


Although urea is the most used N-fertilizer in Brazil and worldwide, nitrogen (N) losses through ammonia volatilization is the main drawback associated with the urea application on the soil surface. Under such conditions, the area is hydrolyzed by the urease enzyme, leading to high rates of ammonia volatilization. Thus, enhancing the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) applied via urea has been a major challenge. In this context, the urease inhibitor N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) has been widely used to improve NUE by plants of the N within the urea, however, the most limiting factor to obtain high crop yields may not be N. Thus, combining more than one nutrient within the same fertilizer can enhance plant nutritional status and, potentially, the crop yields. Zinc (Zn) is a urease's activity inhibitor and the micronutrient is also associated with protein synthesis, which indirectly can improve NUE. The hypothesis of this study is that the association of urea and Zn plus the coating of the fertilizer produced with NBPT will enable the production of an enhanced-efficiency N fertilizer, with reduced ammonia volatilization potential as compared to the conventional urea. The urea-based fertilizers were granulated with three Zn sources, individually, to state: zinc sulfate (ZnSO4); zinc oxide (ZnO) in a macrometric scale, and ZnO in a nanoscale. For each Zn source, four Zn rates (i.e., 0; 0.5; 1.0 and 1.5% of Zn) were added to the urea. The expectation is that the enhanced-efficiency N fertilizer produced is an innovative strategy able to improve the bioavailability of both nutrients (Zn and N) for the plants, enhancing crop yield and mitigating N losses from the agroecosystem to the environment. At the end of the study, it is expected that the enhanced-efficiency N fertilizer produced (granulated urea with ZnO nanoparticles) can be a promising alternative to arouse the fertilizer industry's interest.(AU)

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