Make sure your N gets in
Where did fall 2018 go? Harvest dragged on and on. We had little to no movement of fall fertilizer, fall herbicide, and, for that matter, timely planted cover crops. It seems we say this every year, but this past fall will certainly be remembered— either for harvest at Christmas or lack of field work being done.
Now, however, it’s time to focus on the spring ahead. As I mentioned, very little nitrogen has hit the ground. Yes, a few areas got a good run around the holidays, but, for the most part, we are at ground zero.
For many, anhydrous is the preferred N source in MFA’s trade area. Its high percentage of nitrogen, effectiveness and application methods make it a great fit. However, supply can be tight, which I think will happen this spring.
Looking at N options for spring application, we have to be realistic. We do have other choices. Available nitrogen sources include urea, urea with N-Guard, urea with Instinct, SuperU, UAN and anhydrous. No matter which form you choose, nitrogen stabilizers are crucial to protect your plant food investment.
I’ve discussed urea before. If it is surface-applied, we must protect it with nBPT, the active ingredient that combats the urease enzyme and limits volatility. You read about this in last month’s article on our Training Camp results. MFA’s nitrogen stabilizer N-Guard is an approved nBPT that is proven to be one of the best volatilization inhibitors on the market. Volatilization is the most common form of nitrogen loss with dry fertilizer products.
Now is also a good time to cover SuperU, a stabilized urea-based granule that contains nBPT and dicyandiamide (DCD). The nBPT provides above-ground protection, and DCD protects the nitrogen below ground.
Urea with Instinct nitrogen stabilizer also provides below-ground protection. The active ingredient in Instinct is encapsulated nitrapyrin, an organic compound that slows down the soil bacteria that converts ammonium to nitrate, keeping nitrogen in the ammonium form longer. Instinct is essentially N-Serve for urea.
If UAN is your nitrogen source, it must be protected, too. UAN is 50 percent urea and 50 percent ammonium nitrate. While the ammonium nitrate isn’t volatile, the urea portion is, and they are both subject to below-ground losses. Agrotain Plus is the product we use in this situation. It has nBPT and DCD that will protect the nitrogen from all three forms of nitrogen loss: volatilization, denitrification and nitrate leaching.
We often get questions about using N-Serve in spring applications of anhydrous. Is it needed in the spring? Research has shown that we can see a 7 percent advantage from fall-applied nitrogen with N-Serve and a 5 percent advantage when it’s applied in the spring. Another question that comes up is about how long the protection from N-Serve lasts. A rule of thumb is 90 days for fall applications. Days are counted from application until temperatures drop below 40 degrees. Then the counting starts again in the spring when soil temperatures warm above 40 degrees. Generally, with spring applications we can expect eight weeks of activity from an April 15 application, seven weeks from a May 1 application, and six weeks from a May 15 application.
While many of you prefer anhydrous, yields with SuperU have shown to be equal to that of anhydrous with N-Serve.
A pound of N is a pound of N, as long as it’s still available for the crop when it needs it. This spring, whether you’re applying and protecting anhydrous, urea, Super U or UAN, visit with your local MFA Agri Services or AGChoice for the best option to use on your farm.
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