The Case for Splitting Anhydrous Ammonia Applications

The Case for Splitting Anhydrous Ammonia Applications

If you are one of the many farmers who didn’t apply a nitrogen fertilizer last fall, all is not lost. Although you may be feeling that way.

The late harvest combined with the current extreme weather patterns makes preseason nutrient management a challenge but what farmer isn’t up for a good challenge? Rainy weather in the fall meant it was more difficult for ammonia to be applied. Even if it was applied, chances are great that the soil it was applied on was wet.

Farmers who were able to apply anhydrous ammonia just before the ground froze may be in luck if spring conditions are good. This is true in spite of the fact that placing anhydrous ammonia into wet soil under a frozen surface is not the best scenario.

Most farmers are anxiously awaiting warmer days since only about 50 percent of the acres that would normally be fertilized with anhydrous ammonia in the fall were. In light of this fact, many growers are considering split applications.

The most important factor when it comes to applying nitrogen is that some of it must be applied in time for the roots of the plants to access it as the root system develops. Not all the fertilizer is required upfront but farmers should still try to make sure that half of it is applied right around planting.

Research show that nitrogen use efficiency in corn improves when about 75 pounds of it is applied between fall and spring passes before planting occurs. The rest is applied prior to the eight-leaf stage. Experts say that greater than half of corn’s nitrogen needs occur between V8 and tasseling. The key then is to apply the rest of the nitrogen around V4 to V6. This will allow nitrogen to support growth.

When splitting applications of anhydrous ammonia, consider guidance systems that allow the application to get close to the corn so the plant’s roots will get the nitrogen. When soil is heavier, it can be applied even closer. While it is tempting to apply anhydrous ammonia between corn rows, caution should be used. If plant roots take too long to reach the nitrogen, it could lead to a loss of yield.

Finally, when it comes time for application, farmers would do well to get their ammonia tanks filled as soon as possible. While most dealers should be able to meet demand, it is always better to be safe than sorry since the number of supply trips needed may increase, leading to a potential supply crunch.