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Are There Differences In Nitrogen Inhibitors?

Jan 31, 2011

Yes, there are differences in nitrogen inhibitors, and you want to make the correct choice based on your field conditions. If you don’t use the right inhibitor in the right application, it can lead to nitrogen loss that you weren’t expecting. There are different types of inhibitors, which are 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. This form of nitrogen comes as an application of granular urea applied to the surface and liquid urea including 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 into the soil by tillage or rain, in two to three days, 20% to 30% of the urea can be lost. So you need an urease inhibitor to stop volatility, which is 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 an 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 stop nitrification. The 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.


This blog is provided as an interactive way for you to have your questions answered by our Farm Journal Agronomists. E-mail your nitrogen, soil fertility, soil density, planter set-up, scouting, and other questions to:

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