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Scientists remain sceptical about how Liquid Nano Urea benefits crops

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Liquid Nano Urea (LNU)

Mains level : Not Much

Liquid Nano Urea, a fertilizer patented and sold by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd. (IFFCO), has been approved by the government for commercial use because of its potential to substantially reduce the import bill, but several experts have questioned the science underlying its efficacy.

What is Liquid Nano Urea (LNU)?

  • Urea is chemical nitrogen fertiliser, white in colour, which artificially provides nitrogen, a major nutrient required by plants.
  • LNU is essentially urea in the form of a nanoparticle.
  • It 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.
  • According to IFFCO, liquid nano urea contains 4 per cent total nitrogen (w/v) evenly dispersed in water.
  • The size of a nano nitrogen particle varies from 20-50 nm. (A nanometre is equal to a billionth of a metre.)

Using LNU

  • The liquid nano urea produced by IFFCO Limited 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.
  • According to IFFCO, a bottle of the nano urea can effectively replace at least one bag of urea.

How efficient is LNU?

  • While conventional urea has an efficiency of about 25 per cent, the efficiency of liquid nano urea can be as high as 85-90 per cent.
  • Conventional urea fails to have the desired impact on crops as it is often applied incorrectly, and the nitrogen in it is vaporized or lost as a gas.
  • A lot of nitrogen is also washed away during irrigation.
  • Liquid nano urea has a shelf life of a year, and farmers need not be worried about “caking” when it comes in contact with moisture.

Significance of LNU

  • This patented product is expected to not only substitute imported urea, but to also produce better results in farms.
  • Apart from reducing the country’s subsidy bill, it is aimed at reducing the unbalanced and indiscriminate use of conventional urea.
  • It will help increase crop productivity, and reduce soil, water, and air pollution.

Why in news now?

  • Plants need nitrogen to make protein and they source almost all of it from soil bacteria which live in a plant’s roots and have the ability to break down atmospheric nitrogen, or that from chemicals such as urea into a form usable by plants.
  • Chemically packaged urea is 46% nitrogen, which means a 45-kg sack contains about 20 kg of nitrogen.
  • Contrastingly, nano urea sold in 500-ml bottles has only 4% nitrogen (or around 20 g).
  • How this can compensate for the kilograms of nitrogen normally required puzzles scientists.

 

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E.V.S.Prakasa Rao
E.V.S.Prakasa Rao
4 months ago

Simple calculations show that Nano urea can not replace 1 bag urea under the current recommendation. It is not late to correct the mistake and rectify now.