Nitrogen Stabilizers and Additives – A Refresher

  • Mar 13
    Laura Johnston
    Nitrogen Stabilizers and Additives – A Refresher By Laura Johnston on March 13, 2017
    Categories: Field Care

    Nitrogen additives and stabilizers have no direct impact on yield improvement, but can help minimize fertilizer loss through leaching, denitrification and volatilization. In some scenarios, this N loss prevention may result in increased yields.  There are three types of products used in agriculture:

    1. Nitrification inhibitors
    2. Urease inhibitors
    3. Controlled release

    Nitrate is vulnerable to leaching and denitrification. Nitrification inhibitors slow the conversion of ammonium (NH4+) to nitrate (NO3-). It keeps your fertilizer N in a “protected” form for longer and can reduce N losses from the soil. Nitrification inhibitors work on the bacteria responsible for nitrification. The main nitrification inhibitor compounds used in Canada and the US are nitrapyrin and DCD (dicyandiamide).  

    Urease inhibitors slow down the breakdown of urea into ammonia by way of the urease enzyme. Ammonia is vulnerable to volatilization loss and urease inhibitors can help protect this form of nitrogen. Urease inhibitors have an impact only when urea (in the granular urea form or the liquid UAN form) is applied to the soil surface.  The goal is to slow or prevent the conversion of urea to ammonia until a rain fall event has moved the urea into the soil matrix.

    Controlled release nitrogen is a form of nitrogen that is bound or enclosed in molecules or coatings that are slowly degraded.  The most common type used in Ontario is ESN.

    The table below looks at some common products used in Ontario and when they should be used. 


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