ESN Smart Nitrogen is a nitrogen granule coated with a flexible polymer. While it has been available for use in broad acre farming for some time, there are still some myths surrounding the product. From blending to usage rates and similarities to other products, here are a few of the common misconceptions surrounding ESN, and the truth behind them.
Myth #1: ESN won’t release in dry soil.
ESN will in fact release in very dry soil. Lab studies have shown that soil moisture does not slow the ESN diffusion process until soil moisture dries to about 20-30% of field capacity. After that, the release can slow, or cease in extreme situations, but crops would be at or near their permanent wilting points. Once moisture is reintroduced, the process will begin again, releasing nitrogen back into the soil.
Myth #2: ESN releases based on soil moisture.
ESN release is controlled by soil temperature, not moisture. Some moisture is needed to initiate the diffusion process and continue dissolving the urea inside the coating, but temperature controls the rate of the process.
Myth #3: ESN must be blended with other forms of nitrogen to be effective.
While ESN can easily be blended with other fertilizers, it does not have to be blended with other forms of nitrogen to be effective. ESN releases nitrogen in approximate synchronization with the nitrogen demands of many crops. It can serve as the sole nitrogen source for your crops in many situations, reducing the number of passes you have to make on your fields.
There are some situations in which ESN should be blended, such as when top-dressing winter wheat after it has broken dormancy or top-dressing corn after the V6 growth stage. Discuss with your agronomist or ESN rep to determine the best choice for your farm.
Myth #4: I can reduce the total amount of fertilizer my crops need if I use ESN.
ESN does increase N-use efficiency in many crops and environments. When applied as recommended, lower rates of ESN can often maintain crop yields similar to normal rates of conventional nitrogen sources. However, profitability is usually greatest, and risk lowest, if ESN is used at the same rates as a grower’s conventional program.
Myth #5: ESN releases too quickly to be applied pre-plant.
ESN can be applied at or before planting on many crops. The release of nitrogen is controlled by temperature, not time, so cooler spring temperatures prevent the release of too much nitrogen before crop growth. As soil temperatures rise and crops begin to grow faster, more nitrogen is released, closely matching crop demand.
Myth #6: ESN must be incorporated.
ESN need not be incorporated in many environments. Incorporation is recommended where possible to ensure good contact with soil moisture, but ESN has been proven effective in a variety of surface applications, including top-dressing winter wheat, broadcast applications on no-till crops and in forage grasses. Surface applications without incorporation are not recommended for arid and semi-arid regions without irrigation because of limited surface soil moisture.
Myth #7: ESN is the same as Agrotain and other enhanced-efficiency products.
ESN is a controlled-release nitrogen fertilizer. Because the polymer coating encapsulates the nitrogen, it controls all nitrogen losses by regulating the exposure of nitrogen to the environment. Nitrogen inside the capsule normally releases over a period of about 50-80 days, depending on soil temperature, protecting the nitrogen during the typical periods of loss.
AGROTAIN® and other urease inhibitor products are chemical additives, called stabilizers,that reduce volatilization for a short time immediately after application. Urea treated with these products is still immediately water soluble, leaving it open to leaching.
ESN is unique among enhanced-efficiency fertilizers in agriculture. It provides longer-lasting protection, better performance, greater benefits and greater value than other EEF options.
Still have questions or need more info? Visit https://smartnitrogen.com/common-question-categories/frequently-asked-questions
The content of this article is not intended to be complete or detailed use recommendations for all geographies, crops or applications. User assumes all responsibility for proper use and handling of specific geographies, crops, and applications. Please consult ESN recommendations and/or your Nutrien ESN representative for complete recommendations for use. Consult ESN recommendations for more information.
AGROTAIN® is a trademark of Koch Agronomic Services, LLC.