A 4R Focus on Timing

Farms across North America have been buzzing with the opportunity to become better stewards of the environment and potentially increase yields by adopting the 4R principles or nutrient stewardship. What does practicing the 4Rs entail? It means growers are using the right nutrient source applied at the right rate in the right place at the right time.

The 4Rs are a win-win for producers and for the environment. When it comes to nitrogen (N) fertilizer, using a controlled-release product with added protection against environmental factors – including moisture and temperature – is a clear choice for growers practicing, or interested in, 4R nutrient stewardship.

ESN® SMART NITROGEN® is the only controlled-release, polymer coated N fertilizer on the market for broad acre agriculture. With its urea protected by a flexible polymer-coating, ESN gives growers – and the environment – the advantage of protecting against N losses from denitrification, volatilization and leaching. The coating controls its release to more closely match plant demand.

“Timing is very important in the context of preventing N losses,” explains Ron Heiniger, PhD, Cropping Systems Specialist, North Carolina State University. “One way of minimizing losses from the field to the environment is to make sure the N goes directly from the application site into the root of the crop.”

Achieving this comes down to a matter of timing. Ideally, when the release of N occurs in the form of nitrate or ammonium, it is at a time when the root is actively absorbing N. When this happens, N is immediately handed off from the fertilizer to the roots of the growing crop.

“Successful timing minimizes the chance that losses will occur due to external environmental conditions, primarily rain,” says Heiniger. “Using a product that releases at the right time is a great way to improve environmental stewardship for growers.”

ESN remains protected until the root of the crop is actively growing and taking up N. “That’s the great thing about ESN and something I believe is crucial,” explains Heiniger. “It’s one of the reasons ESN makes so much sense.”

For example, if N is being applied during seeding to a crop that is going to be dormant in the winter, a grower doesn’t want the release of N to occur until springtime when it warms up and the crop is ready to absorb it.  ESN offers convenience for the grower because fertilizer can be applied during seeding without damaging the crop. The grower can have peace-of-mind knowing their N will be readily available later on in the season when the crop needs it most.

For more information on ESN, visit smartnitrogen.com.