Evaluation of biodegradable polymers as encapsulating agents for the development of a urea controlled-release fertilizer using biochar as support material.

González, M.E., Cea, M., Medina, J., González, A., Díez, M.C., Cartes, P., Monreal, C.M., and Navia, R. (2015). "Evaluation of biodegradable polymers as encapsulating agents for the development of a urea controlled-release fertilizer using biochar as support material.", Science of the Total Environment, 505, pp. 446-453. doi : 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.10.014  Access to full text

Abstract

Biochar constitutes a promising support material for the formulation of controlled-release fertilizers (CRFs). In this study we evaluated the effect of different polymeric materials as encapsulating agents to control nitrogen (N) leaching from biochar based CRFs. Nitrogen impregnation onto biochar was performed in a batch reactor using urea as N source. The resulting product was encapsulated by using sodium alginate (SA), cellulose acetate (CA) and ethyl cellulose (EC). Leaching potential was studied in planted and unplanted soil columns, monitoring nitrate, nitrite, ammonium and urea concentrations. After 90 days, plants were removed from the soil columns and plant yield was evaluated. It was observed that the ammonium concentration in leachates presented a maximum concentration for all treatments at day 22. The highest concentration of N in the leachates was the nitrate form. The crop yield was negatively affected by all developed CRFs using biochar compared with the traditional fertilization.

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