Urea, a white crystalline solid containing 46% nitrogen, is extensively used as a fertilizer and animal feed ingredient in agriculture. In rice plants, urea is used as a supply of nitrogen nutrition. It is commonly combined with soil or applied directly to the soil’s surface. Rice plants readily absorb urea in foliar sprays.
Despite the global urea generation of about 200 million metric tons (MMT) per year, the amount is insufficient to fulfill agricultural requirements. This is because the majority of urea produced is wasted due to leaching and evaporation. An environmentally-friendly coating is needed to limit the loss of urea and transform them into supply instead.
A way to address the issues of urea loss was recently published in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. Researchers involved in the study have fabricated a jute-grafted silica nanoring (JSNR) coating using egg white as a binder for efficient urea release control. Porous silica platforms have been used in several agricultural settings to control the release of urea, however, an elevation in silica concentration can make the coating brittle.
The study made use of egg white protein as it generates a crack-free, mechanically robust coating through a straightforward assembly process.
Additionally, the cellulose in jute-grafted silica nanoring works as a clasp for the egg white to retain silica, as well as build a hydrophobic buffer around the urea. Egg white also has the capacity to swiftly disintegrate into an irrevocable hydrophobic structure.
The eco-friendly fertilizer coating is prepared in two phases. First, the silica is coated on the jute, and the composite is crushed into a jute-grafted silica nanoring powder. The powder is then disseminated in egg white and sprinkled over urea pellets.
Study results showed that the coating made of jute-grafter silica nanoring is shown to be considerably resistant to leaking and evaporation losses, greatly increasing the yield of rice plants.