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Where Agrotain fits

Agriculture.com Staff 03/11/2008 @ 2:19pm

Agrotain is both a company name and a product name. Agrotain International makes three ag products that protect urea fertilizer from loss.

Agrotain is a liquid urease inhibitor that can be impregnated onto dry urea or tank mixed with liquid fertilizer that contains urea such as urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN). The active ingredient is N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT).

Agrotain Plus is a dry concentrate nitrogen stabilizer. It contains the urease inhibitor NBPT and dicyandiamide, a nitrogen stabilizer. When added to UAN, it minimizes volatilization, denitrification, and leaching of nitrogen for the urea portion of UAN.

SuperU is a granular stabilized nitrogen urea (46-0-0) that contains the urease inhibitor NBPT and the nitrogen stabilizer dicyandiamide. It's used for direct application.

Urea is an escape artist. If it is applied to the soil surface, it needs to be incorporated by tillage, rain, or irrigation shortly after application. Otherwise, volatilization losses can be significant. As urea breaks down, ammonia is released. This process is facilitated by an abundant enzyme called urease.

If urea is incorporated, the ammonia is converted to ammonium and will be retained in the soil. But if the urea is left on the surface, much of the ammonia will be lost to the atmosphere.

University of Nebraska soil fertility specialist Charles Wortmann says, "Typically, 10% to 20% of urea nitrogen may be lost within five days with the greatest loss in the first days after application. The rate of loss increases with wetness of the soil surface, temperature, soil pH, and wind."

That's where the urease inhibitor Agrotain comes in. Agrotain stops the activity of the urease enzyme for up to 14 days. If the urea is incorporated by tillage, rain, or irrigation during that period, losses should be minimal.

Agrotain typically costs $50 to $55 per gallon. The rate for dry urea is four quarts per ton of urea. That amounts to about a nickel per pound of actual nitrogen. The rate for UAN is one quart per 100 gallons, or a little less than a nickel per pound of actual nitrogen.

University of Wisconsin soil scientist Carrie Laboski analyzed the economics of using Agrotain two years ago when urea was 38 cents per pound. At that time, she concluded that it was profitable to use Agrotain to maintain yield "if situations for N loss exist."

With urea prices pushing 60¢ a pound this winter and Agrotain costing about what it did before, Agrotain looks even better. Laboski says, "If there is a situation where N will be lost from urea, then using Agrotain will protect the urea and subsequently be cheaper than applying more N fertilizer."

Agrotain is both a company name and a product name. Agrotain International makes three ag products that protect urea fertilizer from loss.

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