Agrium Advanced Technology Presents Smart N Research

Agrium Advanced Technology (AAT) hosted many leading agronomists at a Research Roundtable following the annual American Society of Agronomy (ASA) meeting in Cincinnati.

This year marked the ninth Research Roundtable, and agronomists presented their research findings on ESN Smart Nitrogen and other AAT products in the agriculture, turf and ornamental, and specialty agriculture areas.

“We work closely with researchers from across North America to determine the best management practices and performance benefits of ESN and all our products,” says Dr. Alan Blaylock, agronomy manager for AAT. “The research roundtable offers an opportunity for the researchers we work with to share findings and ideas and gives us great insight into the strengths and challenges of managing ESN and our other controlled-release fertilizers.”

In a Nebraska study by Dr. Richard Ferguson, associate department head and soil fertility specialist at the University of Nebraska, ESN produced a consistent yield response in three years of very different rainfall conditions while performance of conventional N sources varied widely from year to year because they were more subject to N loss. Ferguson has conducted both field and lab incubation studies comparing ESN to other fertilizer applications and replicating challenging weather and soil conditions.

“ESN’s response curve is very similar year over year, across a lot of weather conditions,” says Blaylock. “This shows farmers can count on ESN for a predictable response and yield increase, regardless of N loss method.”

During the agriculture session, seven researchers presented their experiences with trials using ESN on a variety of crops. Researchers came from land-grant universities and government and private research organizations across North America, from Ontario to Mississippi. Here are some highlights from researchers attending the event:

  • Dr. Tarlok Sahota, Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Station, has worked with ESN since 2006 and found that the entire nitrogen applications for winter wheat and forage grasses could be applied in the fall by using ESN in Canada. Dr. Sahota also found that ESN can be placed in the seed furrow, and that protein content for winter wheat and forage grasses was greater using ESN than using urea.
  • Dr. Bobby Golden, Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Center, says while early returns are positive, it’s too early to tell how ESN will be used in Mid-south corn and cotton. More research is needed, particularly since the past two years have been hot and dry, and not conducive to ESN technologies. Still, Golden says one ESN application has produced similar yields to current split-application N management practices.
  • Dr. Kurt Steinke, assistant professor at Michigan State University, found that spring applications of ESN provided equal or better results in winter wheat than urea, ammonium sulfate or UAN. In addition, he saw positive yield responses in potatoes at higher N rates and an increase in corn yields over urea with ESN applied pre-plant or side dress. Steinke thinks ESN may need to be applied earlier in the spring to reveal the products’ greatest potential.
  • Dr. Kelly Nelson, research associate professor, University of Missouri, found broadcasting ESN in the spring consistently increased yields over urea applied in no-till corn. Nelson also said ESN decreased nitrate N loss through subsurface drainage systems in conjunction with managing drainage on clay pan soils. He also found ESN to be very flexible on fall applications of wheat and found it to have excellent crop safety on all crops.
  • Dr. Joel Ransom, North Dakota State University Extension agronomist, found protein levels have been consistently higher using ESN on spring wheat. Ransom says even if you didn’t see a yield boost, a 1% protein bump on spring wheat is significant and can result in a $1 per bushel premium in some cases.
  • Dr. Charles Shapiro, University of Nebraska soil scientist, found ESN should be applied earlier in spring, and recommends about a 50/50 blend with ESN and urea.

Researchers discussed the volume of science that AAT can present, across a number of crops in agriculture, turf and ornamentals and specialty agriculture, saying few enhanced efficiency fertilizers are backed by the extensive body of research AAT has compiled.

“We have partnered with land-grant universities and other researchers to collect more than 700 crop-years of research,” says Blaylock. “These researchers provide us with valuable insight. Such work is absolutely essential to understand the value of these technologies and how to properly use them. It’s important for us, our customers and the end users. We look forward to continuing our strong relationships to gather more data on the attributes of ESN.”

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