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Nitrogen And Volatile Weather

Maximizing yield starts with smart nitrogen management. Holding nitrogen in the soil for when the plants need it the most can be a management headache. Nitrogen loss is usually driven by weather conditions, especially large rainfall events. Those same conditions also make it hard to get in the field if you need to replace the nitrogen.

Alan Blaylock is the agronomy manager for Agrium Wholesale. He says one option is called ESN, a fertilizer that helps protect against nitrogen loss.

"It’s a polymer coated control-release fertilizer. In other words, the nitrogen is encapsulated within a polymer coating," says Blaylock. "That polymer coating regulates the nitrogen supply, and it protects the nitrogen against loss when it’s not being used by the crop."

That means it’ll hold onto the nitrogen even through a gully-washer rain. Blaylock says it can be applied at a variety of times, in most situations that would be as a pre-plant. In some areas where fall nitrogen applications are an acceptable practice, it can be used instead of anhydrous ammonia. There are growers who use it as a post-emergence top dress as well.

The release time of ESN is about 60-to-80-days, and is controlled by temperature.

"So, in March when you make this application, the soil is quite cool still, and at that temperature the release is very slow so early in the season before the crop is planted or even early in the crop growth, the crop isn’t using much nitrogen. ESN releases slowly during this time," says Blaylock. "As the soil warms up the crop grows faster, it needs more, ESN responds to that same temperature to release faster."

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