It’s all in the blend

There’s a solution for growers looking to provide their crops with a boost of nitrogen (N) fertilizer at the time of planting and later on in the season as well – ensuring there’s N available throughout the entire growing period. It’s the concept of blending fertilizers and it’s well worth looking into for many growers.

Blending conventional urea with a controlled-release N fertilizer ensures sufficient N release at the early and later stages of crop growth. Currently, there is only one controlled-release N fertilizer available in broad-acre agriculture: ESN® SMART NITROGEN®. ESN is a urea granule protected by a polymer coating which allows urea to diffuse through the coating at a rate controlled by soil temperature.

“We commonly market ESN throughout North America in blends with conventional urea and/or ammonium sulfate,” says Alan Blaylock, Agronomist, Nutrien Ltd.. “The blends are calibrated to supply sufficient N for the crop’s immediate needs at the time of application balanced with ESN to supply the crop’s N requirements for the remainder of the growing season.”

The ratio of ESN to urea depends on the growing conditions, the crop and the growth stage. “At Nutrien, we’ve conducted many studies on blends in different crops to try to optimize blend ratios depending on the crop, geographic location and time of application,” explains Blaylock. The best way to find out the correct blend for your operation is to speak with your certified ESN retailer.

This fertilizer application strategy also benefits crop protein content. A study from the University of Minnesota Northwest Research and Outreach Centre found that spring wheat grain protein concentration increased as the proportion of controlled-release N fertilizer in the mixture increased. The researchers concluded that polymer-coated urea percentages of 50-75% of the blend were sufficient to maximize protein content. For more information on blending ESN, visit ESN Handling Recommendations on