Inexpensive Anhydrous Ammonia Drives Need for Safe Nitrogen Stabilization

As farmers consider fall nitrogen application versus the spring, the current low prices of anhydrous ammonia could help make that decision a lot easier.

“Anhydrous prices are as low as they’ve been in 15 years,” says Shane Van Fleet, AgXplore Technical Agronomist based near Carthage, IL.  He’s seen anhydrous as low as $375 per ton recently in his area.  With the ag economy still stagnant, growers are jumping on opportunities to save costs.

“We’ve got a lot of farmers locking in their anhydrous right now at a really good price.  It could be double the price by spring,” he says.  “With anhydrous application, growers are interested in a nitrogen stabilization product to keep the nitrogen in the top part of the soil and stay available to root systems,” Van Fleet says.  “If you’re making a nitrogen investment, it makes sense to protect it,” he says.

However, many farmers are only aware of one nitrogen stabilizer on the market.  “It’s actually a pesticide,” says Van Fleet.  “Its active ingredient is xylene, a toxic chemical.  Application is highly regulated and restricted to only 2 quarts per acre per year.”

Van Fleet notes there is another option for growers, an AgXplore product called NZONE GL.  A non-detrimental, calcium-based formulation that’s safe to handle.  In studies, the product reduced leaching by 47%, keeping nitrogen available to plants and delivered an average of 12 bushels more per acre.

Healthy yields start with healthy soil

“As agriculture has evolved, one key factor is soil health,” says Van Fleet.  “All microbial activity is part of soil health,” he says.  Microbes feed on nitrogen and bacteria, breaking down the residue in the soil which becomes mineralized and is then taken up by the plant.

“Instead of killing bacteria like the xylene-based product, the calcium-based NZONE GL helps nitrogen attach to soil colloids within the top 8-10 inches of soil,” says Van Fleet.  The calcium in NZONE GL carries a double positive charge.  When injected in the soil, it displaces the single positive charge of hydrogen in the soil.  Any calcium not used by the plant simply remains in the soil profile.

Spotlight on environmental stewardship

“Leaching is becoming a big concern in communities nationwide,” says Van Fleet.  “You have one option that promises 16% less leaching and another that offers 47% less,” he says.  “It’s pretty easy to make that choice.”  In addition, NZONE GL is non-corrosive, odor free, safe to handle with no planting restrictions.  NZONE GL is a tool growers can use to be better stewards of their water quality.

“While anhydrous is affordable, farmers can save on input costs, improve soil health, reduce leaching and weather permitting, increase yields,” says Fleet.