What is Urea?
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Urea occurs in nature as the end product of protein metabolism by mammals, including humans, which excrete urea as a waste product in their urine. It is highly soluble in water and is odourless in its purest state.
First isolated by G.F. Rouelle in 1773, urea was then produced synthetically for the first time in 1828 in Germany, by F. Wohler.
Manufactured urea is a harmless, non-toxic white crystalline solid made by combining synthetic ammonia and carbon dioxide (CO2). Its high nitrogen content (46.7 per cent) makes it an effective and popular fertiliser. Urea has the highest nitrogen content of all solid nitrogenous fertilisers in common use, and is used widely in agricultural food production. In fact, 90 per cent of the world’s urea production is used for fertiliser.
How is it made?
Urea can be produced as prills, granules or as a liquid. Its high nitrogen content means growers need to use less process product creating storage and transportation efficiencies.
Given the high concentration of nitrogen, its even application to crops is essential and it is generally applied to the soil in granules or as a foliar spray.
Urea granules are made by cooling liquid urea while rolling it in layers to create a hard, even sized granule. Granulated urea has the advantage of creating less dust and waste when handled and transported.