Feeling The Heat With Nitrogen

This may be the year to trim back your nitrogen needs with no-tilled corn. Read how it can be done without sacrificing yield.

With nitrogen prices soaring, no-tillers are looking to boost the efficiency of their fertilizer programs. To help you find needed answers, Dave Savage, a veteran no-tiller and crop consultant from Farley, Iowa, has outlined some valuable tips on increasing efficiencies and suggests tests that you can use to determine what nitrogen rates work best in your no-tilled fields.

Just how fast have nitrogen prices risen? Before Christmas, Savage booked 28 percent liquid nitrogen fertilizer at $136 per ton. By mid-January, the price had climbed to $158 per ton.

Up, Up, Up. What’s more, many fertilizer dealerships could not even promise delivery. While farmers could still book urea later in the winter, they could expect to pay as much as 26 cents per pound or $520 per ton. Anhydrous ammonia was running about 21 cents per pound in January and Savage reports that some manufacturers had stopped or postponed making it earlier this year. Ammonium sulfate was available, but at 44 cents per unit for the nitrogen.

Savage notes that 120 units of nitrogen at 20 cents per unit translated to $24 per acre last year. One can now expect to pay 30 cents per unit, which amounts to $36 per acre.

“That’s a $12 per acre increase and if we’re overapplying by 30 units per acre at 30 cents per pound, that’s $9 per acre extra cost,” says Savage.

He questions whether one could recover that cost in yield. “And I’m convinced that a lot of people are overapplying nitrogen…

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