Sulfur Coated Urea Market: Trends, Growth Drivers, and Future Prospects

Slow Release Nitrogen: Understanding the Benefits of Sulfur Coated Urea

Introduction
Urea is a commonly used nitrogen fertilizer due to its high nitrogen content of 46%. However, urea is water soluble and prone to rapid breakdown in soil by microorganisms. This leads to a quick release of nitrogen which means the nitrogen may not all be available to the plants and can also leach easily below the plant's root zone. Sulfur Coated Urea (SCU) was developed to slowly release nitrogen from urea over an extended period, matching the plants' needs. In SCU, plain urea granules are coated with a thin sulfur outer layer. This sulfur coating controls the rate at which urea dissolves in the soil.

How does Sulfur Coated Urea Release Nitrogen Slowly?
The sulfur coating allows water to permeate through it but prevents direct contact between soil microbes/enzymes and the urea granule interior. This protects the urea from immediate hydrolysis to ammonium (NH4+) ions. As the coating slowly dissolves or breaks apart due to biological activity over time, the nitrogen from the urea core is released gradually for plant uptake. Laboratory incubations have shown that only around 15-20% of the total N from SCU is released within the first four weeks after application under favorable soil temperature and moisture conditions. This slow but steady supply of nitrogen better matches plant requirements during the entire growth cycle.

Advantages of Using Sulfur Coated Urea
– Improved Nitrogen Use Efficiency: SCU minimizes nitrogen losses due to leaching, volatilization or denitrification as the nitrogen is released in controlled amounts over a longer duration. This improves nitrogen uptake efficiency by plants.
– Reduced Application Rates: Since less nitrogen is prone to losses, SCU can be applied at a lower rate than other nitrogen fertilizers. It still provides adequate nitrogen when the crop needs it most.
– Reduction in Production Cost: Lower application rates mean reduced fertilizer usage