Starch and polyvinyl alcohol encapsulated biodegradable nanocomposites for environment friendly slow release of urea fertilizer

Nida Zafar, Muhammad Bilal Khan Niazi, Farooq Sher, Ushna Khalid, Zaib Jahan, Ghulam Abbas Shah, Munir Zia

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    Low nitrogen (N) use efficiency from urea fertilizers due to environmental losses results in high cost of fertilizers for agricultural productions. Coating of urea with biodegradable polymers makes them effective for control and efficient N release. In this study, starch and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) were used in combination with acrylic acid (AA), citric acid (CA) and maleic acid (MA) for the coating of urea prills. Different formulations of the coating were prepared and applied on urea prills such as urea coated with starch (10%) and PVA (5%) with acrylic acid: 2, 4 and 6% (USP-A2, USP-A4, USP-A6), with citric acid: 2, 4 and 6% (USP-C2, USP-C4, USP-C6), and with maleic acid: 2, 4 and 6% (USP-M2, USP-M4, USP-M6). After urea coating in fluidized bed coater, all uncoated and coated urea samples were characterized by scanning electron spectroscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), crushing strength and UV-Vis spectroscopy. The morphological and XRD analysis indicated that a new uniform coating with no new phase transformation occurred. Among all urea coated samples, USP-A2 and USP-C2 showed the highest crushing strengths: 12.08 and 13.67 N with nitrogen release efficiency of 70.10 and 50.74% respectively. All coated urea samples improved the spinach plants’ foliage yield, chlorophyll content, N-uptake and apparent nitrogen recovery (ANR) than uncoated urea and control plants. However, USP-A2 and USP-C2 provided promising results among all coated samples with dry foliage yield (2208 ± 92 and 2428 ± 83 kg/ha), chlorophyll (34 ± 0.6 and 34 ± 0.4 mg/g), N-uptake (88 ± 4 and 95 ± 6 kg/ha) and ANR (59 ± 4 and 67 ± 6%). Therefore, urea prills coated with a combination of biodegradable polymers can be a better choice for the farmers to enhance agronomical productions by controlling the fertilizer nutrient release rate.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number100123
    JournalChemical Engineering Journal Advances
    Early online date17 May 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2021


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