Fall applied ESN for winter wheat success

Winter Wheat

Growers preparing for a busy cross-over season of harvest and winter wheat seeding should consider taking a load off their minds with ESN Smart Nitrogen.

Ray Dowbenko, Senior Specialist – Agronomy, with Nutrien Ltd., has seen firsthand the benefits of ESN on winter wheat for over a decade now. He says the controlled-released nitrogen has a unique polymer coating that safeguards N from loss by only releasing it when soil moisture and temperature hit the right mark for plant growth.

“With fall applied ESN, the N is protected in the ground until spring. You don’t have to worry about lost time waiting to get equipment out into wet fields or getting your order in for urea supplies. It’s one less thing the grower has to worry about,” says Dowbenko, who has been working with ESN since it was in the earliest stages of product development in the late 1980s.

A traditional line of thinking for nitrogen application in winter wheat was to apply a low rate of N or none at all at seeding, then broadcast the required N as Ammonium Nitrate in spring. But that practice opens growers to increased risk of N loss due to wet soils, not to mention the scramble to get out in the spring at precisely the right time. And today, with volatile weather and market conditions, growers can use all the insurance they can get.

“Every day spent waiting for fields to dry and get equipment out means potential yield loss. Besides protecting the nitrogen, which is a significant investment for the grower, ESN fall application means the grower isn’t running equipment with fuel and labour costs in the spring. It’s already done.”

Dowbenko said years of field trials across Canada and the U.S., combined with independent scientific research conducted at participating agricultural universities, has proven that ESN can boost yields by as much as 5 – 10% and in some cases as high as 30%. Information on ESN’s impact on specific crops and geographic regions can be found by searching the database available at:

The Alberta-based agronomist gets excited when he talks about the efficacy of ESN and says growers feel the same way once they try it and “the light bulb goes off as to the power in this product.

“We said in the early days that ESN offers the three E’s,” explains Dowbenko. “It’s efficient because it requires one application. It’s effective because it doesn’t require a top dress. And it’s environmental because it can reduce the grower’s carbon footprint with less equipment and fuel use.”