A slow release brown coal-urea fertiliser reduced gaseous N loss from soil and increased silver beet yield and N uptake

Biplob K. Saha, Michael T. Rose, Vanessa N.L. Wong, Timothy R. Cavagnaro, Antonio F. Patti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing crop yield and fertiliser nitrogen (N)-use efficiency is important for productive agricultural systems with a reduced environmental footprint. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of slow release brown coal-urea (BCU) fertiliser on the gaseous N losses, biomass yield and N uptake by silver beet (Beta vulgaris L.) compared to commercial urea. Two soils were amended with urea, BCU 1 (22% N) or BCU 2 (17% N) as N-fertiliser at the rate of 50 or 100 kg N ha−1. Five gas sampling periods were undertaken to measure the loss of N as N2O and NH3. After 10 weeks, biomass, N concentration, and N uptake of silver beet, and mineral and mineralisable N of post-harvest soil were measured. BCU substantially increased fertiliser N availability and uptake by silver beet, reduced N2O emission by 29% and NH3 emission by 36% compared to urea alone, irrespective of soil type. Compared to urea, BCU blends increased biomass yield by 27% and 23% in a Tenosol and Dermosol soil, respectively. In addition, application of BCU fertiliser substantially enhanced the potentially mineralisable N and organic carbon content of soil. These results provide evidence that granulation of urea with brown coal (BC) can increase silver beet N-use efficiency and yield in different soil types, and more work is now required to validate this technology for other crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-800
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Biomass yield
  • Brown coal
  • Fertiliser N use efficiency
  • Humic acid
  • Slow release fertiliser
  • Urea

Cite this