The Intricacies of Nitrogen Sources

Nitrogen is a crucial element in agricultural practices, and the choice of nitrogen source can greatly impact crop yield and profitability. In the past, the options were limited to solid ammonium nitrate (AN) or liquid urea ammonium nitrate (UAN). However, advancements in quality and the need for accurate spreading have brought other options back into consideration.

Priorities and Performance

When considering nitrogen sources, it’s essential to determine your priorities. Whether it’s economics, profitability, environmental performance, or risk management, one group stands out. Yield attainment and risk mitigation are primarily driven by consistent yield achievement and the efficient use of assets like machinery and labor.

Nitrates are recognized as the best performers in terms of yield attainment, with Calcium Nitrate leading the pack due to its 100% nitrate form. Although it may not be widely used in broad acre crops like wheat and oilseed, it can be an option for achieving the milling premium. Nitrates, including CAN, AN, and UAN, consistently deliver reliable economic performance and a healthy return on investment.

Accuracy and Efficiency

If accuracy is your top priority, especially when operating at wider bout widths (24m, 32m, or 36m), granulated products like YaraBela Axan or liquid fertilizers like Chafer Nuram 35 + S are excellent choices. These products allow for precise application, ensuring effective management of headlands and overlaps.

For those aiming to optimize resources such as machines, labor, and land, liquid UAN is the preferred option. Liquid fertilizers can be applied with the highest level of accuracy, even on the widest tramlines (48m). Maximizing the farmed area by calculating the uncropped area in the form of tramlines can lead to increased efficiency.

Further reading:  Say Goodbye to Transplanting Shock: Tips for Healthy Trees and Shrubs

Other Considerations

While nitrates and UAN remain the go-to options for many, the quality and abundance of urea have improved, thanks to increased production in North Africa and China. Yara has invested in its European production facilities to meet the growing demand. Granulated urea plus sulfur grades are gaining popularity, especially as part of a system that balances risk and reward.

It’s important to note that urea products introduce an element of risk. Urea can lose over 20% of its nitrogen as ammonia following application, compared to around 3% with ammonium nitrate. The loss of ammonia nitrogen can impact crop productivity and have environmental implications. Urease inhibitors can reduce this loss but also inhibit the process of turning urea nitrogen into nitrate nitrogen, introducing another layer of risk into the nitrogen cycle.

Sustainable Choices

With the increasing focus on carbon footprints, sourcing nitrogen products from energy-efficient and abated Western European production facilities has become a priority for those in value chains that emphasize sustainability.

In the quest for improved nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), it’s crucial to consider available nitrogen forms and their application coinciding with crop demand. Choosing the right combination of nitrogen sources and application methods can contribute to enhanced NUE and overall agricultural success.

Learn more about nitrogen and sulfur fertilizers by visiting Ames Farm Center.