Margin Minute: Is Fall NH3 Application Right For You?

October 19, 2017 11:17 AM

As farmers start to look toward the 2018 growing season and begin to make crop decisions, fertilizer application is top of mind. Because anhydrous is cheaper than it has been the couple of years, many farmers are considering fall application instead of spring. While fall application does have some benefits, Chris Barron of AgView Solutions recommends farmers crunch the numbers before deciding what’s best for their farms.

Barron has an NH3 calculator that will help you determine if fall application will meet these criteria he calls the “five rights.”

  1. Right Yield Goal What is your yield goal? Will fall application of nitrogen help you achieve it?
  2. Right Timing What’s the right timing for this anhydrous application? Would it be better to do it in the spring because of equipment availability or weather issues?
  3. Right Product Is anhydrous the right nitrogen choice to make? Would you be better off to choose a different form of nitrogen?
  4. Right Placement Do you have the right equipment to get the anhydrous in the right spot to benefit the crop the most given your soil conditions?
  5. Right Rate Have you considered the rate you’ll need to apply if you choose fall application compared to spring? “If you’re putting a fall application on, you’re probably going to put on more than if you applied it in the spring,” Barron says.

When using the tool, Barron encourages producers to think about all of the factors and scenarios that could impact this fertilizer choice. How much can that price go up if you increase or decrease your rate as you get closer to when the crop will use the nitrogen? Are you going to use a nitrogen stabilizer in the fall? What are the application costs compared to doing it in the spring?

The tool (which Barron is willing to send to interested producers) tallies all of the costs up to compare the cost per acre for fall application compared to a spring or sidedress application. When all factors are considered the numbers might surprise you.

“Instead of giving into the emotion of wanting to apply in the fall, run the numbers and let that dictate the decision,” Barron says.

For a copy of Chris’ free NH3 calculator, email him at or call 319-533-5703.


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