Farmers are responsible for making important, difficult decisions daily. A farming operation is a business and farmers make economic choices that affect their bottom line, always looking for products that protect their investment and provide the best return on yield and time management.
Finding a product that steadfastly returns on investment is a win, but finding a product that does so while protecting the environment is an even bigger win. By understanding fertilizer loss mechanisms and choosing products that protect against them, farmers can make informed decisions while being stewards of the environment and protecting their financial investment and potential returns. Selecting a fertilizer that prevents nitrogen (N) losses to the environment is one of the easiest and most economically and environmentally responsible decisions a farmer can make.
The three main loss mechanisms robbing N from crops are leaching, volatilization, and denitrification. Leaching occurs in sandy or coarse-textured soils, where during heavy precipitation the moisture causes N to move beyond the root zone. When N is lost to the atmosphere as ammonia gas, it’s referred to as volatilization. This is most common when fertilizer containing urea (including UAN, manure, or blended dry fertilizer) is surface applied on moist soils and not incorporated within a couple of days. Denitrification occurs when oxygen levels are low, and oxygen is stripped from nitrate, producing N gas, nitric oxide or nitrous oxide, which leaves the soil into the air.
To combat these loss-mechanisms, growers often utilize enhanced efficiency fertilizers (EEF). EEFs are classified as fertilizer products that work towards reducing nutrient losses to the environment and increasing nutrient availability for the crop. Producers have the option to use inhibitors or stabilizers and slow- or controlled-release products to help combat N loss.
Inhibitors and stabilizers slow the transformations of N in the soil and slow- and controlled-release products slow or delay the availability of N and its exposure to loss processes.
Using ESN SMART NITROGEN®, a controlled-release fertilizer, gives growers flexibility and security, knowing their N will be available for the crop and protected against losses. ESN’s polymer coating protects N and releases it over the critical period of peak crop growth and N demand.
For growers committed to making economically and environmentally responsible decisions while still ensuring their crops are receiving the right nutrients at the right time, using a controlled-release N fertilizer is an excellent choice. For more information on ESN, visit smartnitrogen.com.