What Is Nitrogen Based Fertilizer
- November 2, 2021
Since the Haber-Bosch process for synthesizing N fertilizer was developed early in the 20th century, its importance in maintaining the global food supply has rapidly grown.Another way to look at this is that inside your body’s every cell, protein or DNA molecule, half of the N, on average, is a product of the Haber-Bosch process from a N fertilizer factory.After hydrogen and N are combined under conditions of high temperature and pressure to form ammonia, many other important N-containing fertilizers can then be made.Ammonia factories sometimes close or open in various parts of the world in response to fluctuating gas prices.The tremendous benefits from N fertilizer must be balanced with the disruptive environmental impacts that may arise when N moves into areas where it’s not wanted. .
Many sources of fertilizer exist, both natural and industrially produced. For most modern agricultural practices, fertilization focuses on three main macro nutrients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) with occasional addition of supplements like rock dust for micronutrients.In the later half of the 20th century, increased use of nitrogen fertilizers (800% increase between 1961 and 2019) have been a crucial component of the increased productivity of conventional food systems (more than 30% per capita) as part of the so-called "Green Revolution".The use of fertilizer has also led to a number of direct environmental consequences: agricultural runoff which leads to downstream effects like ocean dead zones and waterway contamination, soil microbiome degradation, and accumulation of toxins in ecosystems.Indirect environmental impacts include: the environmental impacts of fracking for natural gas used in the Haber process, the agricultural boom is partially responsible for the rapid growth in human population and large-scale industrial agricultural practices are associated with habitat destruction, pressure on biodiversity and agricultural soil loss.The Birkeland–Eyde process was one of the competing industrial processes in the beginning of nitrogen-based fertilizer production.The Haber process produces ammonia (NH 3 ) from methane (CH 4 ) gas and molecular nitrogen (N 2 ).A maize crop yielding 6–9 tonnes of grain per hectare (2.5 acres) requires 31–50 kilograms (68–110 lb) of phosphate fertilizer to be applied; soybean crops require about half, as 20–25 kg per hectare.One of the plants in the nutrient-poor soil has died.The nutrients required for healthy plant life are classified according to the elements, but the elements are not used as fertilizers."Multinutrient fertilizers" (or "complex fertilizers") provide two or more nutrients, for example N and P. Fertilizers are also sometimes classified as inorganic (the topic of most of this article) versus organic.Inorganic are sometimes called synthetic fertilizers since various chemical treatments are required for their manufacture.Single nutrient ("straight") fertilizers [ edit ].Urea is another popular source of nitrogen, having the advantage that it is solid and non-explosive, unlike ammonia and ammonium nitrate, respectively.The main straight phosphate fertilizers are the superphosphates.Major two-component fertilizers provide both nitrogen and phosphorus to the plants.The main NP fertilizers are monoammonium phosphate (MAP) and diammonium phosphate (DAP).NPK fertilizers are three-component fertilizers providing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.Compound NPK fertilizers contain chemically bound ingredients, while blended NPK fertilizers are physical mixtures of single nutrient components.NPK rating is a rating system describing the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in a fertilizer.NPK ratings consist of three numbers separated by dashes (e.g., 10-10-10 or 16-4-8) describing the chemical content of fertilizers.Fertilizers do not actually contain P 2 O 5 or K 2 O, but the system is a conventional shorthand for the amount of the phosphorus (P) or potassium (K) in a fertilizer.Micronutrients [ edit ].Typical micronutrients are boron, zinc, molybdenum, iron, and manganese. These elements are provided as water-soluble salts.Production [ edit ].Nitrogen fertilizers [ edit ].Nitrogen fertilizers are made from ammonia (NH 3 ) produced by the Haber-Bosch process. Nitrates are also produced from ammonia by the Ostwald process.Phosphate fertilizers [ edit ].These minerals are converted into water-soluble phosphate salts by treatment with sulfuric (H 2 SO 4 ) or phosphoric acids (H 3 PO 4 ).Potassium fertilizers [ edit ].Chemical granulation process is based on chemical reactions between liquid raw materials (such as phosphoric acid, sulphuric acid, ammonia) and solid raw materials (such as potassium chloride, recycle material).Organic fertilizers [ edit ].On the other hand, marketed "organic fertilizers" may include, and promote, processed organics because the materials have consumer appeal.Some organic additives can have a reverse effect on nutrients – fresh sawdust can consume soil nutrients as it breaks down, and may lower soil pH – but these same organic texturizers (as well as compost, etc.).may increase the availability of nutrients through improved cation exchange, or through increased growth of microorganisms that in turn increase availability of certain plant nutrients.Application [ edit ].Fertilizers are commonly used for growing all crops, with application rates depending on the soil fertility, usually as measured by a soil test and according to the particular crop.Legumes, for example, fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and generally do not require nitrogen fertilizer.Liquid vs solid [ edit ].Fertilizers are applied to crops both as solids and as liquid.Urea [ edit ].During summer, urea is often spread just before or during rain to minimize losses from volatilization (a process wherein nitrogen is lost to the atmosphere as ammonia gas).Because of the high nitrogen concentration in urea, it is very important to achieve an even spread.Foliar application [ edit ].Various chemicals are used to enhance the efficiency of nitrogen-based fertilizers.The conversion of urea to ammonia catalyzed by enzymes called ureases. Fertilizer use (2018). Agricultural and chemical minerals are very important in industrial use of fertilizers, which is valued at approximately $200 billion. Nitrogen has a significant impact in the global mineral use, followed by potash and phosphate.Environmental effects [ edit ].Water [ edit ].Phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers when commonly used have major environmental effects. If eutrophication can be reversed, it may take decades before the accumulated nitrates in groundwater can be broken down by natural processes.Nitrate pollution [ edit ]. High application rates of nitrogen-containing fertilizers combined with the high water solubility of nitrate leads to increased runoff into surface water as well as leaching into groundwater, thereby causing groundwater pollution. The excessive use of nitrogen-containing fertilizers (be they synthetic or natural) is particularly damaging, as much of the nitrogen that is not taken up by plants is transformed into nitrate which is easily leached. The nutrients, especially nitrates, in fertilizers can cause problems for natural habitats and for human health if they are washed off soil into watercourses or leached through soil into groundwater.Soil [ edit ].Accumulation of toxic elements [ edit ].Phosphate rocks contain high levels of fluoride.Radioactive elements [ edit ]. Uranium-238 concentrations can range from 7 to 100 pCi/g in phosphate rock and from 1 to 67 pCi/g in phosphate fertilizers.Highly pure fertilizers are widely available and perhaps best known as the highly water-soluble fertilizers containing blue dyes used around households, such as Miracle-Gro.Trace mineral depletion [ edit ]. Although improved crop yields resulting from NPK fertilizers are known to dilute the concentrations of other nutrients in plants, much of the measured decline can be attributed to the use of progressively higher-yielding crop varieties that produce foods with lower mineral concentrations than their less-productive ancestors.Changes in soil biology [ edit ].Energy consumption and sustainability [ edit ].In the US in 2004, 317 billion cubic feet of natural gas were consumed in the industrial production of ammonia, less than 1.5% of total U.S.
annual consumption of natural gas. A 2002 report suggested that the production of ammonia consumes about 5% of global natural gas consumption, which is somewhat under 2% of world energy production.The effects can be combined into an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.The amount varies according to the efficiency of the process.Through the increasing use of nitrogen fertilizer, which was used at a rate of about 110 million tons (of N) per year in 2012, adding to the already existing amount of reactive nitrogen, nitrous oxide (N 2 O) has become the third most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and methane.Two types of agricultural management practices include organic agriculture and conventional agriculture.Conventional agriculture uses all the components that organic agriculture does not use. .
The downside of nitrogen fertilizer
An estimated 1/3 of global food production is made possible by its use, with 100 million tons applied to Earth’s surface annually.When aquatic plants die, their decomposition strips oxygen from the water, causing fish and shellfish kills.At the mouth of the Mississippi River, in the Gulf of Mexico, agricultural pollution has resulted in a dead zone the size of New Jersey.Ammonia is volatized from nitrogen fertilizer and it forms fine particles in the atmosphere that are hazardous to human health. .
What Kind of Fertilizer Is Highest in Nitrogen?
Nitrogen is an essential plant nutrient that many fertilizers contain, though in varying amounts.Artificial fertilizer manufacturers state the proportion of nitrogen in their products on the package label, but for organic fertilizers, the information isn't so clear.Nitrogen in Fertilizers.Artificial fertilizers that supply all three major plant nutrients are known as complete fertilizers.Organic fertilizers that are high in nitrogen include urea, which is derived from urine, feathers, dried blood and blood meal.How to Apply Nitrogen Fertilizer. .
Common Nitrogen Fertilizers and Stabilizers for Corn Production
When combined with a compatibility agent, N-Serve 24 may be used in the application of aqua ammonia and other liquid ammoniacal or urea fertilizer compositions.N-Serve 24 must be injected or incorporated in a zone or band in the soil with the fertilizer at a minimum depth of 2 to 4 inches during or immediately after application.The product label for Instinct N stabilizer indicates that it is a water-based microencapsulated formulation of nitrapyrin that may be used in the application of aqua ammonia and other liquid ammoniacal or urea N fertilizer compositions such as 28%, 30% or 32% UAN.Instinct may be mixed with liquid fertilizer, insecticides, herbicides and/or water and applied as a preplant incorporated, preemergence, or postplant application.Incorporation may occur at any time up to 10 days after application and may be either by mechanical means or moisture (a minimum of 0.5 inches of rainfall or overhead irrigation).In the soil, DCD has a bacteriostatic effect on Nitrosomonas, i.e., the bacteria population is not entirely killed, even with repeated applications, but its activity is suppressed or inhibited for a certain period of time (Trenkel, 2010).Depending on the amount of mineral N applied and the moisture and temperature of the soil, DCD may stabilize ammonium-N for about 4 to 10 weeks (Trenkel, 2010).University studies have demonstrated that DCD can be effective in maintaining N in the ammonium form and increasing corn yield with both fall and spring applications.Super U is a urea fertilizer with a urease inhibitor and DCD already applied; this product will be discussed in a future publication.However, if this reaction is delayed until surface-applied urea is incorporated into the soil by tillage, rainfall, or irrigation, the risk of ammonia loss is greatly reduced.That product, N-butyl-thiophosphoric triamide, or NBPT, is a structural analog of urea and as such inhibits urease by blocking the active site of the enzyme. .
What Does N-P-K Mean on Fertilizer?
Not all fertilizers are the same.However, you usually only have to worry about the Big Three, called the primary or macro nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).What Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium Do for Plants.It’s a building block for growing new stems and leaves, plus it is a necessary part of chlorophyll, which makes the leaves green and helps plants photosynthesize.What Happens When Plants Don't Get Enough N-P-K?If you see these symptoms, a soil test will help you figure out exactly which nutrients are missing.Once you know what’s missing, you can add the right nutrients back into the soil with fertilizer. .
A Brief History of Our Deadly Addiction to Nitrogen Fertilizer
But then, to make a long and complicated story short, in the 19th century European scientists figured out the science behind nitrogen’s central role in plant growth, just as the industrial revolution was pushing more people off of farms and into cities.European elites realized that feeding a growing urban population from a shrinking rural labor base would be a problem—and that cheap and easy nitrate would be part of the solution.Before it made it onto farm fields in a big way, Haber’s breakthrough fueled the US and European munitions industry, particularly in World War II.By the end of World War II, the United States had built 10 large-scale nitrate factories to make bombs.While our reliance on cheap nitrogen fertilizer occasionally (though quite rarely) results in attention-grabbing explosions, the real problems are more subtle and long-term.A 2012 Iowa State University study found that by simply shifting to more diverse crop rotations, Midwestern farmers could radically reduce their reliance on added nitrogen while maintaining current levels of overall food production.Meanwhile, federal farm and “renewable fuel” policies continue to prop up corn—in 2013, the USDA expects farmers to plant the most since 1936: 97.3 million acres, covering an area nearly the size of California. .
Nitrogen is the only nutrient that has no common soil mineral source.Nitrogen mineralization is the process where organic nitrogen is converted to ammonium ( NH 4 + ), which can then be nitrified to nitrate ( NO 3 − ).Plants can take up both these forms of N, but some prefer one source to the other.To maintain an adequate supply of N to plants, inorganic N in soil needs to be replaced either by mineralization of the soil organic pool or by the addition of mineral N from external sources, i.e. fertilizers or atmospheric inputs (Smethurst 2007).In the forms useful to plants, nitrogen is probably the nutrient most universally limiting to plant growth.Typical estimates of rates of symbiotic fixation in eucalyptus forests are in the region of 10 kg ha− 1 yr− 1 (Baker and Attiwill 1981).Symbiotic relationships occur in trees of the legume family, in which specialized nodules on the roots provide favourable environments for N-fixing bacteria: the bacteria have access to carbohydrates and the trees are provided with reduced nitrogen for use in the synthesis of amino acids and proteins.Anyone concerned with the establishment of trees, particularly in areas where the species they are interested in has not been grown before, should try to obtain any information available about microorganism associations with that species.Nutrient uptake by trees and its transfer to their component parts (stems, branches, foliage, …) are important facets of the biogeochemical cycle, but because uptake is the fundamental process underlying tree nutrition we defer consideration of uptake until after the following brief discussion on nutrient losses.
Reduced Use of Nitrogen Fertilizer — American Carbon Registry
Managing fertilizer application on corn therefore represents a significant opportunity for efficiencies that could reduce emissions as well as improving water quality in agricultural areas.The GHG emissions reductions will be quantified and verified following an approved ACR methodology, which was developed jointly by Michigan State University (MSU) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).Participating farms in the Nitrogen Credit Program will not only benefit the environment by contributing to GHG emissions reductions, but also to improved local water quality by reducing nutrient pollution of lakes, rivers and streams.The Nitrogen Credit Program marks an important milestone in incentivizing adoption of voluntary low emissions agriculture practices by broadening the opportunities for farmers to participate in carbon markets.The offsets generated by the farmer’s project were sold by the Program to The Climate Trust, an Oregon-based non-profit organization engaged in efforts to reduce GHG emissions. .