Urea has a number of advantages over other nitrogen fertilizers. Urea is safer to ship and handle, it is less corrosive to equipment, it has a higher analysis than any other dry nitrogen fertilizer and it can be used on virtually all crops. Urea can be stored and distributed through conventional systems. It can be applied in many different ways from sophisticated aerial application equipment to a farm spreading urea by hand. Urea is also highly water soluble so it moves readily into the soil. The high analysis means a reduced transportation and application cost per kilogram of nitrogen.
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Urea is produced commercially from two raw materials, ammonia and carbon dioxide. Large quantities of carbon dioxide are produced during the manufacture of ammonia from coal or from hydrocarbons such as natural gas and petroleum derived raw materials. This allows direct synthesis of urea from these raw materials.
Urea has the highest nitrogen content of all solid nitrogeneous fertilizers in common use (46.4%N.) which is the highest concentration dry nitrogen fertilizer available. It therefore has the lowest transportation costs per unit of nitrogen nutrient.