Treating Your Fertilizer
As we transition into the winter months, we move away from fieldwork and into the planning stages for next year’s growing season. With crop rotation and soil sample results in mind, a fertility plan can be formed. Decisions must be made such as what type of fertilizer you will use, how much of each product you will need to achieve your desired lbs/ac, and how you would like to apply the fertilizer and when. One should always be thinking of the 4R’s: Right Fertilizer source at the Right rate at the Right time and in the Right place.
All fertilizers are equally important, and one should not be prioritized over any others however macronutrients such as NPK&S are required in greater quantities and environmental losses are less tolerated by the crop – especially Nitrogen and Phosphorus.
Nitrogen is a vital nutrient because it is a major component of chlorophyll: a major component of photosynthesis. Nitrogen also produces amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins that are essential to all plant processes.
There are a few different forms of nitrogen that are commonly used throughout the prairies. The first being anhydrous ammonia in a gaseous form (NH3), the second being a liquid form (NH4), and the third being a dry formulation such as Urea (NH2). Nitrogen must be transformed from its many different forms into a plant-available form of NH4 through nitrification. These changes are caused by exposure to oxygen and water.
Nitrogen moves around in the environment readily and is transformed and lost very easily, it is important to use proper practices to ensure your crop is getting the nitrogen it needs for the growing season. Whether you are broadcasting, top dressing, or putting your nitrogen in a row it is a good idea to treat your nitrogen. There are different options for Nitrogen treatments and stabilizers that work in different ways like inhibiting enzymes and keeping nitrogen in its immobile form for longer. By treating your nitrogen, you are ensuring that 10% more nitrogen will be available to the plant throughout the growing season, increasing your overall Nitrogen efficiency. So, no matter what method of Nitrogen application you are using, treating it will provide long-lasting protection from volatilization and leaching.
Plants need Phosphorus for pretty much all normal processes, helping the plant mature in a timely fashion, photosynthesis and many other functions. Phosphorus levels are key for the plant to be able to complete all stages of the production cycle. Phosphorus is very abundant in our prairie soils but 50-75% of the P is in an inorganic, non-plant available form. The other 25-50% is organic P, this P is transformed into plant available P through processes such as mineralization and immobilization. These processes occur in your soils naturally, but it does not supply enough P necessary for your crop.
Treating your Phosphorus
Unlike Nitrogen, Phosphorus is not lost due to volatilization but by being fixated in the soil by other cations or (tied up). This fixation is caused by elements such as calcium, aluminum, iron which are positively charged and attract the negatively charged phosphorus ions. Phosphorus treatments work by reacting with these cations, in turn protecting the phosphorus from fixation. By treating your phosphorus, it protects your fertilizer from being fixated in the soil and allows your fertilizer to be almost 50% more plant available, ensuring your phosphorus is available for the plant when it needs it most.
At Synergy AG we want your fertilizer applications to be as efficient as possible. If you want to learn more about fertilizer treatment and your options, contact your local Synergy AG representative or agronomist today!