Fertilizer Management to Offset Rising Costs

Education

With fertilizer prices reaching record-setting levels and no price relief in sight, it’s time for farmers to dial in the fourth “R” of their nitrogen management program – placement.

Fertilizer prices started skyrocketing in the fall of 2021. Increasing global demand, international energy crunches from the worldwide pandemic that shut down fertilizer factories and sent the price of natural gas – a key component in manufacturing urea — and a hurricane that forced Gulf Coast nitrogen manufacturers offline all contributed to a worldwide fertilizer shortage. Prices soared, reaching as high as 300% over 2020 rates. The situation only got worse when Russia invaded Ukraine – Russia is one of the largest global exporters of fertilizer inputs.

With fertilizer prices this high, farmers must make the most out of whatever fertilizer they can afford to apply. A placement strategy, especially for nitrogen, is crucial to maximizing nitrogen use efficiency in fertilizer management. According to global estimates, more than half of nitrogen applied to crops is lost either by leaching through the soil or into the atmosphere.

Placing and Keeping Nitrogen Where Your Plants Can Use It

Most commercial farmers consider the use of nitrogen stabilizers and extenders when planning out their nitrogen management.

NBPT, a urease inhibitor, keeps nitrogen spread on top of the ground from volatilizing into the atmosphere, giving it a chance to work into the soil. Nitrapyrin and DCD products slow down the below-ground nitrification process and keep ammonium in the plant-available form for a more extended period.

But even with these products, eventually ammonium will turn into nitrite, which is not available for plant uptake. And because nitrite is a negatively charged ion – like soil – it attaches to the soil and then leaches away.

Now, most farmers knowledgeable about fertilizer management, think that because soil is negatively charged and ammonium is positively charged, ammonium will bind to their soil and stick around where they want it until their plants can uptake it and before turning into nitrite. But that’s a bet against time and nature. And it assumes the cation exchange capacity (CEC) rate of their soil has created the negatively charged ‘parking spaces’ for ammonium to bind to in the first place, which is not necessarily the case.

As farmers familiar with fertilizer management know, even the best soils will have layers of sand throughout, may have a low CEC entirely, or doesn’t have the CEC ‘parking spaces’ for positively charged ions like ammonium to hang out in. So even if we have stabilized and extended our plant-available nitrogen, if there isn’t a place for it hang out until plant roots can uptake it then it will still be unavailable for crop use.

The result? Low-efficiency use of nitrogen-based fertilizers and wasted money.

Accelerated Nitrogen Technology to Enhance Fertilizer Placement

AgXplore’s XN Technology was designed to address this placement problem and maximize farmers’ nitrogen investments.

Our nitrogen management aids infused with XN technology use a biodegradable polymer that is highly negatively charged, essentially creating our own CEC site for ammonium to ‘park’ in the soil. That ammonium is then walked right up into the root zone where plants can use it. So instead of ammonium moving down through the soil, searching for those cations that may or may not exist, XN Technology ensures those ‘parking places’ are already there.

For years, farmers have kept yields up by overapplying nitrogen fertilizers as an insurance policy against nitrogen leaching, but that’s not financially feasible with fertilizer prices this high. XN Technology puts your ammonium products in the right place at the right time for plant uptake and keeps it there – making the most of your fertilizer budget.

For more information about our XN Technology and our extensive line of fertility nitrogen-management aids, visit www.agxplore.com/products.

Or are you interested in speaking with one of our on-staff agronomists about the right product for your fertilizer management needs? Fill out our assessment form.

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