Potential Economic Benefits of Modifications to Urea That Increase Yield through Reduction in Nitrogen Losses
- R. J. Buresh and
- C. A. Baanante
Many modifications to urea such as inhibitors, algicides, soluble salts, and acidifying agents have been proposed to overcome losses of urea-N, but little is known about the potential economic benefits and acceptable farm-level prices for modified urea. The objective of this study was to develop and use a method for estimating the potential economic benefits of modifications to urea that reduce N losses and enhance crop yields. The method is applicable for crops with a response to N that is well represented by a quadratic model, and for modifications to urea that do not alter the maximum attainable yield with added N. The increment in profit of farmers with the use of modified urea is determined by the difference in net benefit between modified urea and conventional urea when these fertilizers are used at rates that maximize profit. The increment in profit with modified urea increased linearly with increasing saving of N from loss, decreased with the increasing cost of modifying urea, and increased as the price of conventional urea-N increased. The increased price of N for modified urea, expressed as a percentage increase over the price of conventional urea-N, must be <20% when N saving = 17% of applied N, <40% when N saving = 29% of applied N, and <80% when N saving = 44% of applied N to obtain a positive increment in profit. The results suggest that modified urea would be most economical in environments with high response of the crop to urea-N, high price of conventional urea, and high losses of urea-N that can be prevented by the urea modification.
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