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SPONSORED CONTENT: Protect your nitrogen investment to jump-start the 2017 season

Wet weather last fall capped a challenging season for western Canada growers who had dealt with drought until excessive rains delayed harvest. These less-than-ideal conditions hindered fertilizer application, meaning growers may feel the need to rush 2017 applications.

January 20, 2017  By Koch Agronomic Services LLC

While applying fertilizer over the next few weeks may be appealing from an operational efficiency standpoint, growers should use discretion based on weather conditions.

Research studies from various universities have shown that up to 40 percent of urea-based fertilizers can be lost to ammonia volatilization. Ammonia volatilization occurs when urea and UAN are not adequately incorporated, meaning it doesn’t get enough rain, irrigation – between a half inch to an inch – or mechanical incorporation more than two inches deep to minimize loss.

Ammonia volatilization is a factor that growers should consider if they are trying to make up time lost this fall by broadcasting urea prior to planting. It’s a myth that volatilization doesn’t take place in colder weather. Research conducted at Montana State University confirms that this chemical reaction occurs even at subfreezing temperatures because it is not as dependent on temperature as a biological reaction (nitrification, for example).*


Across 12 sites in Montana, the average loss to ammonia volatilization with surface-applied urea was 21 percent, with some sites losing as much as 44 percent after nine weeks. Surprisingly, this occurred when the surface soil temperature was at or below freezing at some of the sites.

Agronomists also caution against applying nitrogen to snow-covered soil and recommend avoiding fields that are very wet, including where the soil froze in a wet condition or snow has compacted or crusted. Research trials conducted in these conditions resulted in poorer crop performance than if urea was broadcast-applied during snow-free conditions.

Certainly, growers can benefit from the faster fertilizer application method of surface applying urea or UAN when facing a shortened fertilizer application window. However, whatever benefit they may receive in operational efficiency may be offset by a loss in nitrogen, ultimately meaning lost yield and a lower return on investment.

For western Canada growers, in areas where wet conditions may persist in the spring, both volatilization and denitrification losses can be significant.

However, there are enhanced efficiency fertilizer (EEF) options that offer protection against nitrogen loss.

AGROTAIN® nitrogen stabilizer and SUPERU® fertilizer from Koch Agronomic Services (KAS) protects yield potential and return on investment. AGROTAIN® stabilizer contains urease inhibitor technology to protect against volatilization. SUPERU® fertilizer contains both a urease and a nitrification inhibitor which protects against all three forms of nitrogen loss.

Both AGROTAIN® stabilizer and SUPERU® fertilizer allow for greater application flexibility, giving growers the flexibility to pre- or post-apply urea-based nitrogen, and the confidence to know their nitrogen investment is protected, even when surface applied.

To learn more about protecting nitrogen, visit

Neither the individual researcher referred to, nor their respective universities, endorse the products mentioned herein.

AGROTAIN® and SUPERU® are registered trademarks of Koch Agronomic Services, LLC. © 2017 Koch Agronomic Services, LLC.

*Data on file.


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