Why does the Government of India promote the use of ‘Neem-coated Urea’ in agriculture?
[UPSC Civil Services Exam – 2016 Prelims]
(a) Release of Neem oil in the soil increases nitrogen fixation by the soil microorganisms
(b) Neem coating slows down the rate of dissolution of urea in the soil
(c) Nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas, is not at all released into atmosphere by crop fields
(d) It is a combination of a weedicide and a fertilizer for particular crops
- Urea, an essential source of nitrogen for plant development, is crucial for agricultural productivity.
- However, only 30-40 percent of the nitrogen present in urea is utilized by crops, with the rest being lost through degradation at various stages.
- When ordinary urea is applied, it converts to ammonium carbamate, and a portion of it further converts to ammonia gas through a process called ammonia volatilization. This results in a loss of about 8-10 percent of nitrogen during volatilization.
- Neem, a plant with unique properties, can help reduce nitrogen loss at each stage. It slows down the process of nitrate formation, reducing excess nitrate availability for denitrification.
- As a result, neem coating slows down the rate of urea dissolution in the soil, thereby mitigating nitrogen loss.
Therefore, option (b) is the correct answer.