Protect Your Nitrogen Investment this Season

11:07AM Apr 16, 2014
Applied Nitrogen
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Wet weather conditions contribute to nitrogen loss through leaching and denitrification. A controlled-release fertilizer can help you keep nitrogen on the field where it belongs.

Excess moisture from snow and rain, not to mention unseasonably cool temperatures, is slowing corn planting in much of the Midwest this spring. The poor weather conditions may also be setting up conditions that favor nitrogen (N) loss through leaching and denitrification. Controlled-release fertilizers are one tool farmers can use to minimize nitrogen loss under wet conditions.

ESN (Environmentally Smart Nitrogen), manufactured by Agrium Advanced Technologies, consists of urea granules encapsulated in a thin polyurethane coating. The coating allows the nitrogen to release from the granule into the soil as the crop requires it, according to Alan Blaylock, agronomy manager for the company. As the season progresses, the higher the soil temperature, the greater the release of nitrogen.

"Farmers see the greatest benefits from using ESN when potential N loss is significant," Blaylock says. "In some cropping systems, where soils are prone to N loss, farmers may be over-applying N to compensate for the losses. By using ESN, farmers can protect more N from loss, and potentially save money on the front-end, by improving their nitrogen management."

Blaylock says while the company typically recommends applying ESN close to planting, it can also be applied as a top-dress application after corn planting or emergence, up to the V6 growth stage.

Cost-wise, Blaylock says, between 3 and 5 bu. of corn will pay for the product. The typical return-on-investment, he adds, is between 8 and 12 bu. of improved yield.