Nitrogen Dynamics in Soil Fertilized with Slow Release Brown Coal-Urea Fertilizers

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Reducing the release rate of urea can increase its use efficiency and minimize negative effects on the environment. A novel fertilizer material that was formed by blending brown coal (BC) with urea, delayed fertilizer N release in controlled climatic conditions in a glasshouse, through strong retention facilitated by the extensive surface area, porous structure and chemical functional groups in the BC. However, the role of BC as a carrier of synthetic urea and the effect of their interaction with various soil types on the dynamics and mineralization of N remains largely unclear. Therefore, a soil column incubation study was conducted to assess the release, transformation and transportation of N from several different brown coal-urea (BCU) granules, compared to commercial urea. Blending and subsequent granulation of urea with BC substantially increased fertilizer N retention in soil by decreasing gaseous emissions and leaching of N compared to urea alone, irrespective of soil type. The BCU granule containing the highest proportion of BC had lower leaching and gaseous emissions and maintained considerably higher mineral and mineralizable N in topsoil. Possible modes of action of the BCU granules have been proposed, emphasizing the role of BC in enhancing N retention over a longer period of time. The results support the notion that BCU granules can be used as a slow release and enhanced efficiency fertilizer for increasing availability and use efficiency of N by crops.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14577
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • manure
  • green manure
  • phosphorus fertilizers

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