Understanding N Utilization, Minimizing Loss

With a balmy winter already under our belts and the prospect of an even dryer summer than 2011 looming, the recent CropLife Media Group Webinar, “Understanding Nitrogen Utilization And Minimizing Loss,” tackled a rather timely topic for growers and ag retailers. Speakers during the presentation were Dr. Barney Gor­­don, agronomic consultant/professor emeritus, Kansas State University, and Dave Schwartz, vice president of sales and business development, Specialty Fer­tilizer Products (SFP).

Gordon started the discussion by examining how crucial proper nitrogen (N) management is to crop yield. For example, in order for a grower to produce an average yield of 250 bushels of corn per acre, one would need to supply that crop with 188 pounds of N per acre.

Sounds easy. Not so fast, said Gordon.

“We all know that nitrogen can be pretty tricky,” he said. “It’s an unusual element and it can be lost in many different ways.”

There are four distinct mechanisms of nitrogen loss in the field:

  • Immobilization. Especially a problem in no-till operations with heavy surface residue, N is being utilized by microbes that live in the soil rather than the crop it is intended for. Placing fertilizer away from carbon can reduce the risk of this occurring.
  • Denitrification. When applying nitrate on heavier, clay-based soils, involves the gaseous loss of N. Warm temperatures greatly increase the risk of occurrence.
  • Ammonia Volatilization. More of a problem with urea and urea-containing products, this is the gaseous loss of ammonia from surface-applied urea. Generally worse in no-till conditions, the evaporation of drying water is the driving force. Gordon cited several factors that affect this process, among them: pH level, temperature, ammonia concentration, soil texture characteristics and moisture, wind speed and concentration of the urease enzyme.
  • Leaching. The downward movement of N molecules in the nitrate form, this is more of a problem on sandier soils with large pore spaces. The longer the time between fertilization and uptake, the more risk incurred.“Losses with volatilization can be significant, up to around 10% to 20% of the applied N, and they can happen quite rapidly when conditions are ideal,” said Gordon.

UAN Factors

Gordon then presented a study concerning UAN (urea + N) application methods. Observing corn fields in Scandia, KS, between 2008-09, Gordon found that of the three most common application methods (broadcast, dribbled and knifed), knifed produced the highest average yield at 188 bushels per acre. Comparably, broadcasting the UAN mixture brought an average yield of 168 bushels per acre.

“Knifing that nitrogen in under the residue takes care of a lot of those volatilization problems,” said Gordon. “It does not do anything to denitrification, it doesn’t solve the leaching problem, but it does take care of that volatilization problem that we had with urea and urea-containing fertilizers.”

However, for those growers that use the broadcast method, Gordon offers the following options to slow N loss:

  • Urease Inhibitors. These are used to control volatilization. Agrotain (nBTPT) is an example of a urease inhibitor as it deactivates the urease enzyme, thus preventing the hydrolysis of urea.
  • Controlled release N. Urea granule is coated but allows water to diffuse across the membrane. N release is then temperature controlled. ESN from Agrium is an example.
  • Long-chain liquid polymer coating of urea. UAN — Nutri­sphere-N from SFP, is an example. Nutrisphere-N sequesters nickel (Ni) ions in urease and bio available Ni ions in the soil. The result is a slowed hydrolosis of urea. It also acts as a nitrification inhibitor by sequestering iron and copper out of the soil with the result being slower nitrification.

In summary, subsurface application of N is the most efficient application method, but if surface applying, banding is more efficient than broadcasting. If broadcasting, there are products available that can minimize N losses and improve efficiency, said Gordon.

Schwartz agreed. “In 184 total corn trials that we’ve run with Nutrisphere-N treated urea, there’s an average bushel per acre yield increase of 14.9, which is a 7.7% increase overall,” he said. “The beauty of this product is the longevity with which it performs. It has that length of control that can get you through lots of different types of loss activities, and the multitudes of losses that it covers makes it a very broad spectrum product for a retailer.”

Additionally, in 15 wheat trials with Nutrisphere-N treated urea, a 7.3 bushel per acre yield increase (11%) was observed.

“You have to find something that really fits all the different methods of application and gives you a wide spectrum of use options to keep your customers happy,” said Schwartz. “I really see this being a good product for the custom applicator.”

Leave a Reply

Fertilizer Stories

FertilizerNutrient Management, Conservation Among Topics Covered At Indiana CCA Conference
November 23, 2016
Certified crop advisers, consultants, farmers, agribusiness professionals and students will learn more about nutrient management, soil and water conservation, pest Read More
NutriSphere-N Application
Crop InputsVerdesian: NutriSphere-N Making A Water Quality Difference In Midwest
November 18, 2016
Farmers sitting on the largest aquifer in the United States have learned a thing or two about managing nitrogen (N) Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute Issues Statement On The U.S. Elections
November 10, 2016
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn has issued the following statement on the results of the 2016 elections: “TFI Read More
Fertilizer Storage
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute Hires New Director Of Agronomy
November 4, 2016
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has hired Dr. Sally Flis as its director of agronomy, a new position created to support Read More
Trending Articles
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
STS16 2017
SprayersHagie Manufacturing Releases 2017 STS16 Sprayer To Market
November 16, 2016
Hagie Manufacturing LLC’s largest full season applicator is now available with enhancements for the 2017 model year. Hagie is officially Read More
Wilco
CropLife 100Valley Agronomics, Wilco-Winfield To Form New Agronomy Joint Venture
November 11, 2016
Valley Agronomics LLC, headquartered in Rupert, ID, is a joint venture between Valley Wide Cooperative and Winfield Solutions, LLC. Wilco-Winfield, Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute Issues Statement On The U.S. Elections
November 10, 2016
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn has issued the following statement on the results of the 2016 elections: “TFI Read More
Latest News
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Co…
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To E…
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research has announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
ManagementAg Industry Comes Together To Address Climate Change
December 1, 2016
Addressing climate change — and more specifically, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture — can only be achieved through collective Read More
Young soybean field
HerbicidesLiquid Formulation Valor EZ Herbicide Available For 201…
December 1, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has released Valor EZ; a liquid formulation of the company’s leading herbicide, Valor. Named Valor EZ Herbicide Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
ManagementThe Value Of Cooperatives In Modern Agriculture
December 1, 2016
Editor’s Note: Jaxon Mullinnix of  Lone Tree, IA, was recently named the Iowa state winner of the 2017 GROWMARK essay Read More
AGCO Operator of the Year Tony Kornder
SprayersAGCO Names Tony Kornder Operator Of The Year
December 1, 2016
AGCO Corp. names Tony Kornder with Genesis Growing Solutions in Le Sueur, MN, the 11th annual Operator of the Year. Read More
Chris Henney OABA
ManagementOABA Industry Conference To Provide Outlook For Future …
November 29, 2016
The upcoming Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference is packed with widely-respected speakers and industry professionals, sharing their expertise on a Read More
Corn
InsecticidesMajor Review Finds Neonic Poses Low Risk To Aquatic Inv…
November 28, 2016
A major new ecotoxicological review and risk assessment has been published in the peer-reviewed literature and concluded that registered crop Read More
EquipmentGSI Details New Grain Drying Efficiency System for Coop…
November 28, 2016
Grain elevators and ag co-ops are always looking for ways to increase their energy efficiency to help improve profitability. For Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
AGCO AgControl system
Precision AgPrecision Ag Technology: Rate Control For The Times
November 28, 2016
It’s not surprising that the need for more economical, effective application is driving the demand for the latest rate controllers Read More
ARA
Eric SfiligojTaking The Industry’s Pulse At ARA
November 28, 2016
When most of you read this particular column, many of the industry’s key folks will probably be spending at least Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls …
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
FertilizerNutrient Management, Conservation Among Topics Covered …
November 23, 2016
Certified crop advisers, consultants, farmers, agribusiness professionals and students will learn more about nutrient management, soil and water conservation, pest Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsa…
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
Arysta LifeScience
Crop InputsArysta LifeScience Forms Alliance With Beem Biologics
November 21, 2016
As part of its recently announced strategy to become a leader in high-value, high-growth specialty market segments in the crop Read More
DuPont sign
Crop InputsDuPont To End Pension Contribution For Active Employees
November 18, 2016
DuPont will no longer contribute to active employees’ pension plans, a move that will affect the retirement of 13,000 workers, Read More