Benefits of Nitrogen Inhibitors

Newsletter - October 30, 2019

As we are all aware, when it comes to applying fertilizer in Western Canada we are at the mercy of mother nature and logistics. That is even before we start to shoehorn in some agronomics as well.

Although the use of nitrogen inhibitors is not a new concept and there have been options in the market for a while, the benefits of this type of product are often overlooked. Depending on the operation, using an N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (nBTPT) product such as Yara's AMIPLUS 2.0 can help fit the logistical and agronomic needs, while still playing by mother nature’s rules.

First off, we should look at how urea typically behaves in the soil so that we can understand where a fit may be for an inhibitor. Below is an illustration that helps to provide a visual.

ammonia volatilization.png

In order for our crops to unitize applied urea, it needs to be converted into the plant available forms of ammonium (NH4+) or nitrate (NO3-) nitrogen. This is a multistep process that, while necessary, results in periods of time where the nitrogen is subject to potential loss. One of these loss mechanisms, volatilization, involves the loss of nitrogen fertilizer to the atmosphere in the form of ammonia gas (NH3). While there are environmental conditions and soil attributes that impact the risk of loss, it is generally accepted that this risk is greatest in the two to the three-week period following application and increases in situations where urea is surface applied. The conversion of ammonium to the gaseous ammonia occurs after urea undergoes hydrolysis, a process that is facilitated by the enzyme ureases. It has been long recognized that an effective way to reduce the risk of volatilization is through the use of urease inhibitors like nBTPT. This practice slows the transform of urea to ammonium allowing more time for the urea molecules to be moved into soil by moisture and reducing the pH spikes and subsequent increase concentration of the, highly susceptible to loss form of nitrogen, ammonia.

Trials have demonstrated that urease inhibitors can mitigate 60% to 70% of volatilization losses from urea and 40% to 50% from UAN. This depends on conditions, climate, soil pH, and crop.

Using an nBTPT in urea-containing fertilizer reduces the rate at which urea is hydrolyzed in the soil into ammonia. The benefits of this delayed urea hydrolysis are:

  1. Nutrient nitrogen is available to plant over longer period
  2. Excessive buildup of ammonia in the soil is avoided
  3. Potential for nitrogen loss through ammonia volatilization is reduced
  4. Potential for damage to sensitive seedlings from ammonia is reduced
  5. Plant uptake of nitrogen is increased
  6. Increase in crop yield is attained

When we look at the overall question of, “How does this fit into my operation” we can see from above that there may be a few different ways. From a logistics standpoint, the ability to reduce the amount of volatilization means it opens up different application methods and timings. There is also a financial component to reducing the amount of volatilization. You can have peace of mind knowing that you are doing everything you can to reduce the losses of your nitrogen.

At Yara, we have a considerable interest in properly coating fertilizer. Whether it's our YaraVita PROCOTE or AMIPLUS 2.0, you can be confident that we have spent the time making sure our products are easy to use and of the highest quality.

Contact your local Yara representative to learn more.


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Cody Vogel
Cody Vogel
Regional Sales Manager