IFDC Report, Volume 32, No. 1

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This publication sheds light on the widespread use of urea fertilizer in Asia and its inefficiencies in meeting the nitrogen requirements of rice crops. Farmers across countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Vietnam have traditionally employed broadcasting techniques, which result in significant nitrogen loss and environmental pollution. Dr Walter Bowen, Resident Project Coordinator of the ANMAT II project in Bangladesh, funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), emphasizes the low plant utilization of applied urea nitrogen and its negative impact on farmers' returns on investment and the environment. To address these challenges, urea deep placement (UDP) technology has emerged as a more efficient and sustainable method for managing urea fertilizer. UDP involves the insertion of large urea briquettes into the soil at a depth of 7 to 10 cm after transplanting rice. In collaboration with partners in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Vietnam, IFAD is actively disseminating UDP technology to farmers. This approach has demonstrated increased nitrogen use efficiency, with most urea nitrogen retained in the soil near the plant roots, minimizing nitrogen loss through floodwater runoff. The publication highlights the positive outcomes of UDP implementation in Bangladesh, where more than 550,000 farmers have adopted the technology. On-farm trials have shown an average 22% increase in rice yields compared to broadcasting, a 47% reduction in urea use and a 24% rise in profits. Several Bangladeshi manufacturers have produced and sold over 2,000 briquette-making machines, facilitating the widespread adoption of UDP. Similar progress is observed in Vietnam, with over 6,700 farmers implementing UDP and establishing machine manufacturers, pellet producers, and retailers. Although recently introduced in Cambodia, UDP has already gained traction, with over 200 farmers adopting the technology. The publication concludes by emphasizing the need for further support and investment to make UDP technology more widely accessible to farmers. By promoting UDP and local production of urea briquettes, farmers can significantly enhance the efficiency and sustainability of rice farming, ensuring higher yields, reduced fertilizer use, and minimal environmental impact.
Deep placement, Fertilizers, Agricultural trade, Rice