van de Ligt J, Borghoff SJ, Yoon M, Ferguson LJ, DeMaio W, McClanahan RH. 2019. Nondetectable or minimal detectable residue levels of N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide in bovine tissues and milk from a 28-d NBPT dosing study. Translat An Sci 3(4).
N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) (Figure 1) is an active ingredient in nitrogen stabilizer (urease inhibitor), which temporarily inhibits the action of the urease enzyme to improve the efficiency of urea-containing fertilizers. Given the potential for NBPT residues to be present in milk and tissues of dairy cattle, due diligence is needed to demonstrate the safety of NBPT in urea-based fertilizers used on forages and crops intended for consumption by Holstein dairy cows. This study used controlled dosing of NBPT in capsule form to dairy cattle for 28 d, followed by a 14-d depuration phase to assess the potential for residues to exist in milk and tissues of dairy cattle at exaggerated use levels. Fourteen lactating cows were selected for the dosing and depuration phases of the study, based on health, body weight (BW), and milk production. There were four treatment groups: 0 mg NBPT/kg BW (Control) (n = 2 cows), 1 mg NBPT/kg BW (1×) (n = 3 cows), 3 mg NBPT/kg BW (3×) (n = 3 cows), and 10 mg NBPT/kg/BW (10×) (n = 6 cows); levels were based on maximum tolerable amount of urea that a cow can ingest on a daily basis (1×) and the maximum concentration of NBPT commercially used when treating urea (0.1 wt% NBPT in urea). At the end of the 28-d dosing phase, cows were randomly selected for the 14-d depuration phase of the study (one control and three 10× cows). The results showed no NBPT residue is detectable at all dose levels, except that a residue level was above the lower limit of quantitation in a single milk and subcutaneous fat sample in the highest (10×) treatment group, which represents the level of NBPT that would be theoretically present in 10× the lethal dosing of daily consumable urea to a cow. Overall, the study demonstrated that it is unlikely for NBPT residues to be present in cattle milk or edible tissues or to cause negative effects on animal health under good agricultural practice.