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Ken Ferrie Explains Which Nitrogen Inhibitor to Use

January 27, 2011
By: Margy Eckelkamp, Director of Content Development, Machinery Pete
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With a question posed to our agronomists in episode 11 of Corn College TV, Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie details the differences in nitrogen inhibitors. Make a smart choice with using the right inhibitor in the right field conditions.

“If growers don’t use the right inhibitor in the right application, it can lead to nitrogen loss that they weren’t expecting,” Ferrie says.
There are different types of inhibitors based on the type of nitrogen loss they help control: volatility, leaching and denitrification.
“One type of inhibitor helps with volatility, which is the loss of ammonia nitrogen from the loss of urea,” Ferrie explains. “This form nitrogen comes as an application of granular urea applied to the surface and liquid urea from 28% and 32%, which are half urea.  When the urease enzyme breaks down the urea, ammonia can be created, and if it’s not incorporated in the soil, by tillage or rain, in 2 to 3 days, 20% to 30% of the urea can be lost. So you need an urease inhibitor to stop volatility, which are designed to protect surface applied nitrogen.”
The other type of inhibitor helps control loss of applied ammonium sources of nitrogen.
“When nitrogen is converted into nitrates from ammonium source, it can be leached away or denitrified. In this process nitrogen goes from ammonium to nitrite to nitrate.  We need to stop bacteria from driving that process, and these types of inhibitors stops nitrification.”
Ferrie’s top lesson to apply when using inhibitors is to know what process of nitrogen loss you’re trying to stop. Learn more in episode 11 of Corn College TV.

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