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This invention relates to fertilizer compositions that have been developed to increase nutrients required by humans and/or domesticated animals in food plants, which is easily tailored for application to particular agricultural land, deficient in specific human/domesticated animal nutrients. In this respect, the invention is a delivery system that can be easily adjusted to deliver human/domesticated animal nutrients that have been determined to be deficient, in a determined appropriate amount to increase the amount of the nutrients in food plants in order to alleviate or eliminate the deficiency in the human/domesticated animal diet. The compositions include plant growth fertilizers that promote plant growth in addition to the delivered human/domesticated animal nutrients.
Additionally, the invention includes processes of making the fertilizer compositions containing animal nutrients.
The invention further includes methods of alleviating or eliminating deficiencies in animal nutrients by means of increasing the amounts of the nutrients in food plants.
On a worldwide basis, the demand for the present fertilizer containing animal nutrients is tremendous, as emphasized in the following excerpts regarding deficiencies of iodine, iron, zinc and vitamin A, from the World Health Organization, World Health Report 2002.
Iodine deficiency has been associated with mental retardation and brain damage, lower mean birth weight and increased infant mortality, hearing impairment, impaired motor skills, and neurological dysfunction. Over 2.2 billion people in the world may be at risk for iodine deficiency, and estimates suggest over one billion experience some degree of goiter. Globally, iodine deficiency disorders were estimated to result in 2.5 million Disability Adjusted Life Years (“DAYLs,” i.e., the sum of years of potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability) which is 0.2% of total global DAYLs. Approximately 25% of this burden occurred in Africa, 17% in South-East Asia and 16% in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Iron deficiency is one of the most prevalent nutrient deficiencies in the world, affecting an estimated two billion people. Young children and pregnant and postpartum women are the most commonly and severely affected because of the high iron demands of infant growth and pregnancy. Iron deficiency may, however, occur throughout the life span where diets are based mostly on staple foods with little meat intake or people are exposed to infections that cause blood loss (primarily hookworm disease and urinary schistosomiasis). About one-fifth of prenatal mortality and one-tenth of maternal mortality in developing countries is attributable to iron deficiency. There is also a growing body of evidence indicating that iron deficiency anemia in early childhood reduces intelligence in mid-childhood. There is also evidence that iron deficiency decreases fitness and aerobic work capacity through mechanisms that include oxygen transport and respiratory efficiency within the muscle. In total, 0.8 million (1.5%) of deaths worldwide are attributable to iron deficiency, 1.3% of all male deaths and 1.8% of all female deaths. Attributable DALYs are even greater, amounting to the loss of about 35 million healthy life years (2.4% of global DALYs). Of these DALYs, 12.5 million (36%) occurred in South-East Asia, 4.3 million (12.4%) in the Western Pacific, and 10.1 million (29%) in Africa.
Zinc deficiency is largely related to inadequate intake or absorption of zinc from the diet. Zinc requirements for dietary intake are adjusted upward for populations in which animal products (the best sources of zinc) are limited, and in which plant sources of zinc are high in phytates (strong chelators). It is estimated that zinc deficiency affects about one-third of the world's population, with estimates ranging from 4% to 73% across regions. Mild to moderate zinc deficiency is quite common throughout the world. Worldwide, zinc deficiency is responsible for approximately 16% of lower respiratory tract infections, 18% of malaria and 10% of diarrheal disease. The highest attributable fractions for lower respiratory tract infection occurred in Africa, the Americans, the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia (18-22%); likewise, the attributable fractions for diarrheal diseases were high in these four regions (11-13%). Attributable fractions for malaria were highest in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean (10-22%). In total, 1.4% (0.8 million) of deaths worldwide were attributable to zinc deficiency: 1.4% in males and 1.5% in females. Attributable DALYs were higher, with zinc deficiency accounting for about 2.9% of worldwide loss of healthy life years. Of this disease burden, amounting to 28 million DALYs worldwide, 34.2% occurred in South-East Asia, and 49.1% in Africa.
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient required for maintaining eye health and vision, growth, immune function, and survival. Severe vitamin A deficiency can be identified by the classic eye signs of xerophthalmia, such as corneal lesions. Milder vitamin A deficiency is far more common. Vitamin A deficiency causes visual impairment in many parts of the developing world and is the leading cause of acquired blindness in children. Children under five years of age and women of reproductive age are at highest risk of this nutritional deficiency and its adverse health consequences. Globally, approximately 21% of all children suffer from vitamin A deficiency (defined as low serum retinol concentrations), with the highest prevalence of deficiency, and the largest number affected in South-East Asia (78%) and in Africa (63%). There is a similar pattern for women affected by night blindness during pregnancy, with a global prevalence of approximately 5% and the highest prevalence among women living in Asia and Africa where maternal mortality rates are also high. It is estimated that vitamin A deficiency also caused about 16% of worldwide burden resulting from malaria and 18% resulting from diarrheal diseases. Attributable fractions for both diseases were 16-20% in Africa. In South-East Asia, about 11% of malaria was attributed to vitamin A deficiency. About 10% of maternal DALYs worldwide were attributed to vitamin A deficiency, again with the proportion highest in South-East Asia and Africa. Other outcomes potentially associated with vitamin A deficiency are fetal loss, low birth weight, preterm birth and infant mortality. In total, about 0.8 million (1.4%) of deaths worldwide result from vitamin A deficiency, 1.1% in males and 1.7% in females. Attributable DALYs are higher: 1.8% of global disease burden. Over 4-6% of all disease burden in Africa was estimated to result from vitamin A deficiency.
Thus, much of the world's population is lacking in micronutrients and iodine, which can cause a variety of illness or death. This is generally a direct result of consuming food crops that were grown in micronutrient and/or iodine deficient soils. Primary micronutrients which may be deficient include iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and selenium. Food crops grown in deficient soils not only have reduced crop yields, but also have low micronutrient and/or iodine content needed for human health.
A quick acting and cost effective method to alleviate this problem is to use enriched fertilizers containing micronutrients and/or iodine as well as vitamins and other beneficial additives. These human nutrients are transferred from the soil, through plant uptake, to the edible fruit, vegetable, seed, leaves, stalk or other portion of the food crop plant. Similarly, domesticated animals that have nutrient deficiencies will have improved health and productively by consuming food plants that have received increased amounts of the deficient nutrients. Moreover, human consumption of the nutrient healthy animals will increase human health. The present invention employs a new and particularly effective means of providing selected types and amounts of animal nutrients to food crops and concurrently providing plant nutrients for crop high yield.
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The present invention is directed towards a new and entirely unexpected fertilizer composition wherein a core particle is composed of selected types and amounts of animal micronutrients, iodine and/or vitamins which is coated with plant growth fertilizer, particularly urea as a nitrogen plant nutrient, but may also include other plant nutrients of, for example, phosphorus and potassium. Thus, a combined animal nutrient and plant nutrient fertilizer may be tailored and applied to agricultural areas to fulfill the specific needs of animal (particularly human) and food plant (crop) nutrition. The core packet of selected animal nutrients may be produced with only a small coating of urea as an intermediate product for future processing or such intermediate product may be further processed substantially in a continuous manner to the final fertilizer product. For convenience only, hereafter, nutrients for increased health of humans and domestic animals will be referred to as human nutrients and nutrients for increased food plant will be referred to as plant nutrients.
The physical structure of the present fertilizer product is novel and the process of the present invention that was developed for making the product, including the nutrient core packet and one or more coatings, includes novel granulation steps.
The present invention further includes a method of delivering human/domesticated animal nutrients that have been determined to be deficient, in a determined appropriate amount to increase the amount of the nutrients in crops, in order to alleviate or eliminate the deficiency in the human/domesticated animal diet.
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While in the manufacture of fertilizers, the granulation of urea is known, the simple addition of micronutrients, iodine, or other essential nutrients to a urea granulation process can potentially cause processing problems such as agglomeration, dusting, excess moisture and low production rate. Physical properties of the resulting urea granules can also be affected such as reduced particle strength, dust formation, caking in storage, or more susceptibility to humidity. Further, additives, such as human nutrient compounds, can also be damaged from the high urea melt temperature (275 to 290 F).
The present invention particularly relates to a new delivery system for incorporating micronutrients and/or iodine or any other beneficial materials into fertilizers to provide highly effective availability of the nutrients to crop plants and uptake of the nutrients into the plant. The delivery system consists of a core packet comprised of animal nutrients (nutrients in the broad sense of substances in food that aid in healthy growth and health maintenance of animals). The core packet particles are produced by granulating (e.g. drum granulation) the nutrient core ingredients, optionally with a binder (e.g., monoammonium phosphate (MAP)). On a dry basis the binder is 0.3 to 0.9% by wt. and preferably 0.5 to 0.7% by wt. The resulting core packet particle size is in the range of 0.7 mm to 1.5 mm and preferably in the range of 0.9 mm to 1.2 mm in diameter depending on the desired additive concentration.
The core particles are over coated with urea. This first coating of urea is to build up the particle size for improved processing by such means as a high or even low flow fluid bed reactor to produce the fertilizer product granules. The size of core particles with the first coating of urea is 0.9 to 1.5 mm and preferably 1.0 to 1.2 mm. The core particles with urea overcoat is an intermediate product, which may be stored or processed substantially immediately to a final fertilizer granular product.
The core particles with first coating of urea are introduced to a urea granulation process, to be coated a second time with urea and optionally including other plant macronutrients such as phosphorus and potassium to yield the fertilizer granular product. The fertilizer granules each contain a core packet particle near the center of the granule. The final product granule size ranges from 2.50 to 3.60 mm and preferably 2.5 to 2.8 mm.
The urea employed in the coating may optionally be substituted or supplemented with coating materials selected from the group consisting of ureaform, water soluble urea formaldehyde polymer, water insoluble urea formaldehyde polymer, methylene urea, methylene diurea, dimethylenetriurea and urea formaldehyde.
The plant macronutrient compounds include the following:
1) nitrogen compounds selected from the group consisting of urea, ammonia, ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, calcium nitrate, diammonium phosphate, monoammonium phosphate, potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate;
2) phosphorous compounds selected from the group consisting of diammonium phosphate, monoammonium phosphate, monopotassium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, tetrapotassium pyrophosphate, and potassium metaphosphate.
3) potassium compounds selected from the group consisting of potassium chloride, potassium nitrate, potassium sulfate, monopotassium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, tetrapotassium pyrophosphate, and potassium metaphosphate.
The core packet particles may be manufactured as an intermediate product for later coating with urea or a tailored urea-macronutrient formulation for application to a specific agricultural area, worldwide. The fertilizer product granules may optionally receive an outer coating of a substance having reduced solubility or otherwise of slower degradation to provide a slow or controlled release of the fertilizer, e.g., sulfur or polymer coatings.
Micronutrient sources include iron sulfate, iron oxides, chelated iron, zinc sulfate, iron nitrate, zinc oxide, chelated zinc, copper oxide, copper sulfate, copper nitrate, magnesium nitrate, magnesium sulfate, magnesium oxide, selenium sulfate and selenium oxide. Iodine sources include potassium iodide or sodium iodide. The proportion of total micronutrients in the fertilizer product range from 0.01 to 10.0% by wt. and preferably range from 0.1 to 5.0% by wt. Core packet particles prepared for regions that have iodine deficient soils typically contain 0.01 to 5% by wt. iodine, and more preferably contain 0.01 to 1.0% by wt. Core packet particles typically contain 0.01 to 10% wt. zinc and more preferably 0.01 to 5% wt. zinc. Core packet particle typically contain 0.01 to 10% wt iron and more preferably contain 0.01 to 4% wt. iron.
Core packet particles may also include a vitamin-mineral composition to alleviate or eliminate human vitamin deficiencies. One or more vitamins are selected from such vitamins as vitamins A, C, D, E and K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and B12, folic acid (vitamin B9), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and biotin (vitamin B7). In addition to the previously disclosed mineral nutrients of iron, zinc and iodine additional mineral nutrients are selected from calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, chloride, potassium, boron, nickel, silicon, tin, vanadium, and carotenoids such as lutien, and lycopene.
See Table 1 for an exemplary list of components and exemplary amounts as may constitute a complete human multivitamin.