Published on: August 28, 2023
Source: Down to Earth
Why in News?
Recently, an opinion paper published in the journal "Plant and Soil" has raised concerns about the scientific validity of Nano Liquid Urea produced by the Indian Farmers and Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO).
The paper questions the claims made about the efficacy and benefits of the product, emphasizing the need for rigorous scientific scrutiny before launching nano fertilizers into the market.
What is Liquid Nano Urea?
It is urea in the form of a nanoparticle. It is a nutrient (liquid) to provide nitrogen to plants as an alternative to the conventional urea.
Urea is a chemical nitrogen fertilizer, white in colour, which artificially provides nitrogen, a major nutrient required by plants.
It is developed to replace conventional urea and it can curtail the requirement of the same by at least 50%.
It contains 40,000 mg/L of nitrogen in a 500 ml bottle which is equivalent to the impact of nitrogen nutrient provided by one bag of conventional urea.
It has been indigenously developed at Nano Biotechnology Research Centre, Kalol, Gujrat in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat and Atmanirbhar Krishi.
India is dependent on imports to meet its urea requirements.
Liquid Nano Urea has been found effective and efficient for plant nutrition which increases production with improved nutritional quality.
It can boost a balanced nutrition program by reducing the excess use of Urea application in the soil and make the crops stronger, healthier and protect them from the lodging effect.
It has a positive impact on the quality of underground water, a very significant reduction in global warming with an impact on climate change and sustainable development.
What is the Background?
IFFCO had asserted that a small quantity of nano liquid urea could replace a substantial amount of conventional urea.
The central government and IFFCO have ambitious plans to expand nano urea production and export.
The researchers express concerns about the potential consequences of these plans, as exaggerated claims could lead to severe yield losses, impacting food security and farmer livelihoods.
What are the Concerns Raised by the Paper?
Discrepancy between Claims and Outcomes:
Nano liquid urea was introduced as a promising alternative to traditional granular urea.
Nano liquid urea has failed to deliver noticeable results in the field. Farmers using the fertiliser have experienced increased input costs without corresponding improvements in crop yield.
This highlights the discrepancy between product claims and real-world outcomes.
While IFFCO advertised nano urea as environmentally friendly, the paper finds no scientific basis for this claim.
It emphasizes that nitrogen, a vital compound for crop growth, has been linked to numerous environmental issues such as Climate Change, Ocean Acidification, and Ozone Depletion.
What are the Recommendations of the Study?
The study underscores the need to address excess nitrogen due to its adverse impact on the environment.
The opinion paper highlights the importance of transparent and rigorous scientific evaluation before introducing novel agricultural technologies.
With implications for food security, farmers' livelihoods, and the environment, this controversy underscores the need for responsible innovation and evidence-based decision-making in the agricultural sector.
What is Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited?
It is one of India's biggest cooperative societies which is wholly owned by Indian Cooperatives.
Founded in 1967 with just 57 cooperatives, today it is an amalgamation of over 36,000 Indian Cooperatives with diversified business interests ranging from General Insurance to Rural Telecom apart from its core business of manufacturing and selling fertilizers.
To enable Indian farmers to prosper through timely supply of reliable, high quality agricultural inputs and services in an environmentally sustainable manner and to undertake other activities to improve their welfare.
The Nano Liquid Urea controversy underscores the necessity for transparency, and responsible innovation in the agricultural sector.
Striking a balance between technological advancements and environmental sustainability is vital for the well-being of farmers, Food Security, and the planet.