Urea deep placement (UDP) technology is a relatively simple, fieldproven technology developed and validated by the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) and more than a dozen research organizations in Asia and Africa. It is a soil nutrient management technology ideally suited for smallholder farmer agriculture production systems. With UDP, rice farmers consistently achieve yield gains 1 of 15%-20% while using one-third less fertilizer. To a lesser extent, vegetable farmers realize attractive yield increases with UDP compared with conventional fertilizers.

UDP technology involves “point placement” of large fertilizer granules (1 to 3 grams each, in the shape of briquettes) 7 to 10 centimeters (cm) below the soil surface in close proximity to the root zone of the plant. Urea briquettes are applied only once during the crop growth season, compared with two to three fertilizer applications needed for surface-applied prilled or granular urea. UDP technology makes nitrogen available to the crop throughout its growth cycle. Plants are able to absorb more of the applied nutrients, resulting in higher crop yields and lower production costs for farmers.

IFDC developed UDP technology through its research and development programs, which include emphasis on reducing losses and increasing crop uptake of applied nitrogen fertilizers. Following more than two decades of in-house research and development, the technology is now being introduced and promoted on a large scale in selected countries.2

UDP technology is appropriate for most rice-producing countries in Africa and Asia and many in Latin America. It performs best in clay and silt soils and in rice production systems in which fields are subject to surface water runoff and line sowing is practiced. While much research was conducted in southeast Asia, particularly in Bangladesh, the technology requires adaptation for use in lighter textured soils. While there is considerable desire to quickly adapt new technology to local conditions, it is important to validate the UDP technology via research and on-farm field trials in the zones targeted for introduction. e research trials should be done in collaboration with private enterprise, national agriculture research organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and/or international agriculture research organizations with an endorsement (collaboration where possible) of the host Ministry of Agriculture.