Nitrogen Management Affects More Than Yields

The management of nitrogen is a key component in achieving higher yields. But for Josh Sattler of Willow City, N.D., nitrogen levels directly affect the prices he receives for his wheat.

That’s because farmers receive a premium on wheat with higher protein content. However, higher yields in wheat often go hand-in-hand with lower protein levels due to how the plant develops.

Sattler has found a way to split the difference using AgXplore’s NZONE nitrogen management aid.

He’s seen yield increases averaging six to seven bushels per acre. But more important, he’s had protein gains of one-half to three-quarters of a point when using the product.

“There were a few years where we struggled to get 13-1/2 percent protein. We used NZONE on all our wheat acres this year and we ended up in that 14-15 range,” he said. The difference is critical because, as Sattler notes, “anything over 14 they usually pay a premium on.”

“What I’ve noticed is increased protein and the availability of nitrogen left in the soil is phenomenal compared to what we had prior,” he said.

Sattler and his agronomist have concluded that the product is keeping nitrogen available throughout the year by decreasing leaching. “We’ve discovered that when the plant is needing some of this nitrogen, it’s still there and available. It’s staying in the root zone a lot better.”

“Using our soil tests, we’re finding anywhere from 30 to 35 pounds of nitrogen left in the soil, where before, when we weren’t using NZONE, we were anywhere from 10 to at the most 20 pounds left.”

“That’s great for us, because we do a dry bean rotation off wheat,” Sattler said.

Leaching can be a problem on areas of Sattler’s land as well. Because the product decreases leaching, he’s seeing better results in those areas. “It’s really increased our productivity on some of our lighter ground.”

Sattler says the return on investment with NZONE has been excellent. “It’s definitely paying that investment and then some,” he said.

“Last year I had 2,200 acres and I had NZONE on every single acre,” he added. “It is definitely worth its weight in gold, in my opinion.”

Jennifer Posey, AgXplore’s North Dakota Sales Agronomist, first met Sattler two years ago at a grower meeting she hosted at Farmers Union Oil. Sattler asked for wheat and soybean recommendations and she shared her crop programs with him.

“Josh is a great AgXplore customer,” says Posey. “In addition to NZONE, he uses a variety of our products, including seed treatments, foliar blends and micronutrients.”

More information about NZONE can be accessed in the research section of the site.