Calcium Nitrate vs. Urea

What's the Difference?

Calcium Nitrate and Urea are both commonly used fertilizers in agriculture, but they have different compositions and functions. Calcium Nitrate is a compound made up of calcium and nitrogen, providing essential nutrients for plant growth. It is highly soluble in water, allowing for quick absorption by plants. On the other hand, Urea is an organic compound containing nitrogen, which is converted into ammonia by soil bacteria. This ammonia is then utilized by plants as a source of nitrogen. Urea is less soluble than Calcium Nitrate, requiring more time to break down and release nutrients. Overall, Calcium Nitrate is often preferred for its immediate availability of nutrients, while Urea is valued for its slow-release properties.


AttributeCalcium NitrateUrea
SynonymsCalcium dinitrate, Norwegian saltpeterCarbamide
Chemical FormulaCa(NO3)2CO(NH2)2
Molar Mass164.09 g/mol60.06 g/mol
AppearanceWhite crystalline solidWhite solid or prills
Solubility in WaterHighly solubleSoluble
UsesFertilizer, concrete additive, wastewater treatmentFertilizer, feed supplement, industrial applications
Release of NitrogenProvides both nitrate and calcium ionsProvides nitrogen in the form of urea
Application RateVaries depending on specific useVaries depending on specific use

Further Detail


Calcium Nitrate and Urea are two commonly used fertilizers in agriculture. They both provide essential nutrients to plants, but they have different chemical compositions and characteristics. In this article, we will compare the attributes of Calcium Nitrate and Urea, exploring their benefits, applications, and potential drawbacks.

Chemical Composition

Calcium Nitrate is a compound made up of calcium and nitrogen. Its chemical formula is Ca(NO3)2. It contains 15.5% nitrogen and 19% calcium. On the other hand, Urea is an organic compound with the chemical formula CO(NH2)2. It consists of 46% nitrogen, making it a highly concentrated nitrogen fertilizer.

Benefits of Calcium Nitrate

Calcium Nitrate provides plants with both calcium and nitrogen, which are essential nutrients for their growth and development. Calcium plays a crucial role in cell wall formation, root development, and overall plant structure. It helps prevent diseases such as blossom end rot in tomatoes and tip burn in lettuce. Nitrogen, on the other hand, is necessary for chlorophyll production, photosynthesis, and protein synthesis. Calcium Nitrate is highly soluble in water, allowing for easy absorption by plants.

Furthermore, Calcium Nitrate has a neutral pH, which helps maintain the soil's pH balance. It can be used in both acidic and alkaline soils without causing any adverse effects. This versatility makes it suitable for a wide range of crops, including fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants.

Benefits of Urea

Urea is a highly concentrated nitrogen fertilizer, making it an excellent choice for crops that require a significant nitrogen boost. Nitrogen is a vital nutrient for plant growth, and Urea provides it in a readily available form. It promotes vigorous vegetative growth, enhances leaf development, and improves the overall yield of crops.

Another advantage of Urea is its cost-effectiveness. It is relatively inexpensive compared to other nitrogen fertilizers, making it a popular choice among farmers. Urea is also easy to handle and apply, as it is available in granular form. It can be spread evenly across the field using traditional fertilizer spreaders.

Applications of Calcium Nitrate

Calcium Nitrate is commonly used as a foliar spray or applied through irrigation systems. It is suitable for both pre-planting and post-planting applications. When used as a foliar spray, it can quickly correct calcium deficiencies in plants and improve their overall health. Calcium Nitrate is also effective in preventing and treating blossom end rot in tomatoes, a condition caused by calcium deficiency.

In addition to its use as a fertilizer, Calcium Nitrate is also employed in the production of concrete, as a component in cold packs, and as a corrosion inhibitor in wastewater treatment plants.

Applications of Urea

Urea is primarily used as a nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture. It can be applied to the soil before planting or as a top dressing during the growing season. Urea is suitable for a wide range of crops, including cereals, oilseeds, vegetables, and fruits. It is particularly beneficial for crops that require a high nitrogen input, such as corn and wheat.

Furthermore, Urea can also be used as a nitrogen source for foliar applications. It is easily absorbed by the leaves, providing a quick nitrogen boost to plants. However, it is important to note that foliar applications should be done carefully to avoid leaf burn or damage.

Potential Drawbacks

While Calcium Nitrate and Urea offer numerous benefits, they also have some potential drawbacks. Calcium Nitrate can be relatively expensive compared to other fertilizers, which may limit its use in large-scale farming operations. Additionally, excessive use of Calcium Nitrate can lead to an accumulation of nitrates in the soil, potentially causing environmental issues.

On the other hand, Urea is prone to volatilization, especially when not incorporated into the soil immediately after application. This can result in nitrogen loss to the atmosphere, reducing its effectiveness as a fertilizer. Urea can also be easily leached from the soil, especially in sandy or poorly drained soils, leading to nutrient runoff and potential water pollution.


Calcium Nitrate and Urea are both valuable fertilizers that provide essential nutrients to plants. Calcium Nitrate offers the benefits of calcium and nitrogen, promoting healthy plant growth and preventing nutrient deficiencies. Urea, on the other hand, is a highly concentrated nitrogen fertilizer that enhances vegetative growth and improves crop yields. Both fertilizers have their applications and potential drawbacks, and their suitability depends on the specific needs of the crops and the soil conditions. Farmers and growers should carefully consider these factors when choosing between Calcium Nitrate and Urea for their fertilization needs.

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