Nitrogen is essential for meeting plant growth, development, and reproduction. Nitrogen deficiency can weaken or hinder crop growth and lead to crop yield reduction. Global nitrogen fertilizer consumption accounts for more than 60% of total fertilizer consumption. In 2015, the global demand for nitrogen fertilizer was nearly 100 million tons (preferably pure nutrients). However, nitrogen fertilizers affected by nitrogen, volatile, leaching, soil fixation and soil surface runoff, and nitrogen loss is as high as 50% or more. The loss of nitrogen fertilizer and inefficient use not only reduce the production potential of crops but also bring about a series of environmental problems such as soil acidification, biodiversity loss, soil, and water eutrophication. Therefore, major agrochemical enterprises have stepped up the development of related products and technologies, aiming to further improve the utilization rate of nitrogen fertilizer.
Thoughts and key technologies to improve nitrogen fertilizer utilization
The core problem in addressing the low utilization rate of nitrogen fertilizer is how to find a balance point in the nitrogen cycle. Nitrogen is present in many forms in the soil. Since nitrogen can move and interconvert in the soil, crop, water, air, and other media, some nitrogen that can be absorbed by crops (such as root zone) is lost through fixation, volatilization, denitrification, and leaching.
Various forms of reaction for nitrogen cycling:
1．Nitrogen (N2) in the air undergoes a Haber-Bosch reaction through the action of rhizobium of legumes and lightning, thereby reacting with hydrogen to form ammonia (NH3).
2．Through the mineralization reaction, organic nitrogen present in plant residues, animal manure, and soil organic matter can be converted into inorganic nitrogen.
3. The first natural ammonia compound (NH3), which is involved in the natural reaction, is converted to nitrite (NO2-) by the bacteria in the soil, and finally, nitrate (NO3-) ions are formed by nitrification.
4. Under special soil conditions (mainly hypoxia), nitrate (NO3-) ions are converted into various gaseous nitrogen oxides (NOx, N2O) and nitrogen by denitrification.
Nitrogen typically produces losses during the transformation of different forms. If these nitrogens are applied in an organic or inorganic form, the more the amount is used, the greater the loss of nitrogen. The goal of optimal nitrogen management is to ensure optimal crop yields while reducing nitrogen losses in the environment. This goal is generally achieved in several ways. Although microbial technology, genetic breeding technology and improved fertilization technology have played a certain role in improving nitrogen fertilizer efficiency, the large-scale market operation of these technologies still faces many difficulties. With the advancement of science and technology, some new technologies, new ideas, and new ideas have been continuously developed and applied. Increasing fertilizer utilization is not limited to these traditional technologies. Slow, controlled release fertilizers, and urease/nitrification inhibitors have been or are being applied to agricultural production, and play an important role in reducing fertilizer losses and improving fertilizer utilization.
Slow release fertilizerControlling fertilizer release rate is one of the important ways to reduce nitrogen fertilizer loss and improve nitrogen fertilizer efficiency. These products mainly include two types of slow release and controlled release fertilizers. Among them, slow-release fertilizer(SRF) can achieve slow nutrient release by producing materials with controlled water solubility or low water solubility. Sustained release can delay the start of nutrient supply and extend the supply of nutrients. Such materials are produced by reacting urea with various aldehydes such as urea formaldehyde (UF), methyl urea (MU) and isobutylene diurea(IBDU).
Stable fertilizer addition of nitrogen stabilizer to the fertilizer extends the time that nitrogen in the fertilizer stays in the soil (in the form of urea nitrogen or ammonia nitrogen). Fertilizers with stabilizers include stable fertilizers containing nitrification inhibitors(NI) urease inhibitors(UI). Nitrification inhibitors can selectively inhibit the activity of nitrifying bacteria in the soil, thereby slowing the reaction rate of ammonium nitrogen in the soil to nitrate nitrogen.
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