How to deal with fertilizer delays

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If you have difficulty obtaining nitrogen fertilizer (especially anhydrous and sometimes urea) during this compressed spring in several places, you are not alone.

“A farmer I spoke to could only get one tank a day,” writes Dave Franzen, extension fertility specialist at North Dakota State University (NDSU), in this report. NDSU Crop and Pest Week. “The immediate result has been that some farmers wait to plant small grains and corn until the fertilizer is spread or the tanks can be filled with ammonia.

“I’m afraid this has been happening since the beginning of April,” continues Franzen. “A normal planting season in North Dakota is a one month period of fertilizer application, with a few weeks of application before most plantings. This season, not only little fertilization before the planting season was possible, but the sowing of small grains and other early season crops (sugar beet, small grains, canola), as well as the planting of crops of end of season (corn, soybeans) all occur. at the same time. That puts a logistical squeeze of a month of fertilizer demand into a week or two.

“I understand that new trucking laws and new enforcement techniques mean fewer truck loads can be carried each day by truck drivers,” Franzen continues. “I have also observed more ammonia field tanks across the state than I have seen recently, possibly because drier soil conditions allow application and the need to reduce production costs.

What has to be done

If you’re not locked into anhydrous ammonia as a pre-plant or planting fertilizer, the choice of nitrogen in small grains or another strong-seeded crop, plant, says Franzen. Then apply urea mixed with Agrotain, Limus or other NBPT N- (n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide) at a similar rate per ton of active ingredient on top after planting.

“The cost per acre of the product will increase, but the delay in anhydrous supply may last for some time,” writes Franzen. “The loss of wheat yield per day can more than compensate for any increase in costs and the low loss of nitrogen use efficiency during surface application. Contact the anhydrous dealer to see how serious the delays are and if the delays will ease sooner or later.

“When the farmer is stuck in the anhydrous due to prepayment for a specific product, or if the intended crop is a row crop like corn, delay the anhydrous application on a side coat, apply the anhydrous between the rows and move the planting forward, ”writes Franzen. “If the delay is due to urea and urea is applied with planting small grains, but phosphate and other fertilizers in the mix are available, plant small grains / canola using the P and other ingredients, then apply urea with urease inhibitor as given above.

“If MAP or other phosphate source is delayed, delay planting in small grains and corn if it was intended for a starter application placed close to the seed. If it is intended for broadcast application, plant and apply fertilizer over it after planting, ”writes Franzen.


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