A weeklong event of rain swept across central Iowa and MN recently, leaving a trail of standing water in its midst. Some of the ponding of water has begun to disappear which can be a beautiful sight for farmers still waiting to get into the fields. However, as the water disappears, nitrogen (N) does as well.
Nitrogen is one of the toughest nutrients to maintain in the soil, and it’s also one of the key nutrients that plants need. In high moisture conditions (like we are currently experiencing) there are have higher chances of the applied N getting diluted and potentially moving into the environment with the water, a process known as leaching.
If you apply untreated N and there is a prolonged period of two or three weeks with less than a half inch of rain, you can lose up to 25 percent to 50 percent of your applied N to volatilization. Soil type and soil moisture play a role in susceptibility to volatilization, and the form of N matters, as urea is more volatile than liquid urea ammonium nitrate (UAN), and ammonium sulfate is extremely stable.
So how do you combat nitrogen loss through volatilization and leaching? Leaching is the most difficult to address since nitrogen moves with water. However a nitrogen stabilizer like N-Serve® or Instinct® stabilize nitrogen and help maximize N at the time of application. For volatilization, side dress urea and use Agrotain Ultra to reduce volatility.
Want to know more about products like N-Serve®, Instinct®, or Agrotain Ultra®? Contact your local CFE agronomist!