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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 44 No. 2, p. 418-422
    Received: May 1, 1978
    Accepted: Oct 18, 1979

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Release of Urea by Granules of Sulfur-Coated Urea1

  1. W. M. Jarrell and
  2. L. Boersma2



Urea diffuses through holes in the coatings of granules of sulfur-coated urea (SCU) into the surrounding soil. The ability to predict the rate at which urea is released from SCU granules aids in matching the slow release characteristics of the fertilizer to specific climatic and soil conditions.

When openings are small and the concentration of urea immediately outside each opening is very low, a two-stage release pattern is proposed. During the initial stage, solid urea is dissolving and urea diffuses out of the granule at a constant rate. When all of the urea inside the granule has dissolved, the rate of release decreases logarithmically with time. The equations describing rates of release during the two stages are for the constant rate period, and for the falling rate period, where mr = m/Mo with m being the amount of urea released and Mo the amount of urea initially present in the granule, D is the diffusion coefficient, Ap is the cross sectional area of the pore through which diffusion occurs, Δxp is the length of the pore, ρ is the density of urea, and csat is the solubility of urea. The diffusion coefficient D and the solubility of urea csat are temperature-dependent, according to , where T is absolute temperature and Tc is temperature in degrees centigrade.


The temperature dependence of the release rate during the constant-rate period as determined by experiment agreed well with that predicted from theory. These equations may be used to predict the rate of release provided the physical properties of the given SCU are known.

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