Sulphur is rapidly being recognized as the fourth key nutrient for plants after nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It functions in several critical metabolic and physiological processes, such as Chlorophyll synthesis, Protein synthesis, Activation of enzymes, Stress tolerance and Seed production. In this background, an attempt was made to synthesize nano sulphur fertilizers for slow release using the reverse microemulsion (water-in-oil microemulsion) technique. Cyclohexane was used as oil phase. Tween-80 and ethanol were used as surfactant and co-surfactant, respectively. Hydrochloric acid and sodium polysulfide solution acted as an aqueous phase. This technique resulted in the successful synthesis of nano sulphur fertilizer. The sulphur nano fertilizer was characterized using X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier-Transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), Scanning electron microscope (SEM) and Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). The XRD pattern revealed the orthorhombic nature of nano sulphur and the lattice face-centred. The FTIR spectra at 1406 cm-1 confirmed the sulphur vibrations. The microemulsion method yielded stable, uniform, spherical nano sulphur particles with dimensions ranging from 25 to 47 nm. The thermal disintegration between 117°C to 122°C in TGA graph was attributed to the sublimation of sulphur in orthorhombic crystalline form, indicating the successful synthesis of nano sulphur. A laboratory study on nano sulphur fertilizer and conventional sulphur fertilizer was studied with a Percolator reaction system to evaluate the slow release of sulphur from both fertilizers at ambient temperature. Percolation reactor experiment indicated that sulphate release from nano sulphur was longer for 42 days than gypsum amended soil which exhausted within 35 days. Hence, synthesized nano sulphur fertilizer maximizes nutrient retention, eliminates environmental nutrient loses and decreases fertilizer requirements.
FT-IR, Microemulsion, Nano sulphur, Percolation reactor, SEM, Slow release of sulphate, XRD
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