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Nitrogen Loss Research. Joel Ransom NDSU Extension Agronomist. Background. Nitrogen fertilizer third most costly input in corn production Nitrogen losses can be significant (only ~1/3 of N applied is used by the crop) Off site loses are environmental concerns.

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nitrogen loss research

Nitrogen Loss Research

Joel Ransom

NDSU Extension Agronomist

  • Nitrogen fertilizer third most costly input in corn production
  • Nitrogen losses can be significant (only ~1/3 of N applied is used by the crop)
  • Off site loses are environmental concerns
why worry about n use efficiency
Why worry about N use efficiency?
  • N is biologically and chemically very active in the soil
  • Each N compound behaves differently in the soil affecting potential for loss
  • Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas (impacts climate change?)
  • Excess nitrate in surface waters causes eutrophication and anoxia
principles to guide n loss reductions
Principles to guide N loss reductions
  • 4 R’s of nutrient stewardship
    • Right fertilizer source
    • Right rate
    • Right time
    • Right place
addressing sources of loss
Addressing sources of loss
  • Volatilization
    • Placement, urease inhibitors, polymer coated urea, soil moisture status (AA), application timing relative to rain (surface applications)
  • Leaching and denitrification
    • Delaying the conversions from ammonium to nitrate
      • Nitrification inhibitors
      • Soil temperature at time of application
      • Polymer coated urea or slow release
      • Banding vs. broadcasting
    • Applying nearer the time of greatest uptake
      • Slow release urea
      • Split applications
urease inhibitors
Urease inhibitors
  • NBPT is the most commonly available and widely tested (Agrotain, SuperU, etc.)
  • Volatilization of NH3 from urea anytime moisture, urea and urease are present in temperatures that range from 11ºF to 105ºF.
  • Urease inhibitors block the conversion of urea to ammonia for a period of one to two weeks allowing time for incorporation by rainfall or other means
  • UAN contains 50% urea
nitrification inhibitors
Nitrification inhibitors
  • Slow the conversion of NH4+to NO3-bykilling or reducing the activity of populations of Nitrosomonasand Nitrococcusbacteria.
  • Two most common commercial inhibitors are nitrapyrin and DCD
rate of nitrification
Rate of nitrification

Source: Schwab and Murdock, U of K

treatments included in recent research
Treatments included in recent research
  • Standard treatment – urea pre-plant incorporated
  • Instinct – new formulation of nitrapyrin that inhibits nitrification (ammonium to nitrate)
  • Polymer coated urea – (ESN) coated so that it will release gradually and when temperatures are warmer (30% of total N applied)
  • Split application – UAN applied at the 6 lf dribbled between rows
  • Split with UAN + Agrotain Plus – urease inhibitor plus nitrification inhibitor in powder form for ease of mixing with UAN
experimental locations
Experimental locations
  • 2011 two locations
  • 2012 and 2013 five locations
    • 2012 dry but productive year, limited N loss in most environments
    • 2013 excess moisture early, dry later in the season
effect of nitrogen management practices at lowest n rate on yield of corn in five environments 2012
Effect of nitrogen management practices at lowest N rate on yield of corn in five environments, 2012.
  • Urea $550/ton ($60 per 100 lbs/N)
  • ESN $675/ton ($73 per 100 lbs N = 22 lbs N)
  • 28% UAN $360/ton ($64 per 100 lbs N)
  • SuperU ~$660-690/ton (~$190 over price of urea)
  • Instinct ~$11 per acre
  • Agrotain $56 per ton ($6 per 100 lb N)
  • Agrotain Plus $65 per ton ($11 per 100 lb N)
  • No compelling evidence that additives were profitable in any of the environments included
  • Split applications were both positive and negative depending on the environment
  • Protection of UAN with urease inhibitor in one environment in 2013
  • Additional research would be beneficial to sample additional environments
  • Rate of Instinct may need adjustment
  • Ratio of ESN may have been too low to pick up response