Fertilizer plays an important role in maintaining the soil fertility, enhancing plant growth and crop yields in agriculture. Nitrogen is a limiting factor in crop production. It is a major nutrient that supports the crop growth and yield. It gives plants the energy to grow, and produce fruits and vegetables. Application of nitrogen (N) fertilizer, mostly as urea, in agriculture fields is a common farmers' practice in India. However, in tropical countries, a significant portion of N is lost due to microbial activity, volatilization and leaching processes, which results in environmental pollution and also affects the crop growth and yield. Therefore, excessive nitrogenous fertilizer is being used. There is need for the balance of organic carbon and nitrogen fertilizers in the soil so that the soil becomes fertile and loss of Nitrogen minimized.
Biochar is an inert carbon-rich material when added to soil, improves soil quality, retains water and promotes crop growth and yield. It also absorbs CO2 and other soluble organic compounds. Biochar is known to alter N dynamics in soils and thus, it possesses the potential to enhance N retention in the soil and use efficiency by crops in agriculture ecosystem. Initial field studies with a mixture of biochar and urea (BMU) in different ratios, as a slow and sustained release N fertilizer is used for the crops and analysis has shown enhanced crop yield and reduction in the urea usage. This when developed, will be deployed to farmers to help them in reducing the environmental pollution and saving of nitrogen fertilizer.