Fertilizer – Things to Consider in the Fall

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By Garth Donald, CCA, DynAgraVRT

Now that harvest is complete, growers need to start to shift their thoughts to fertilizer. There is a lot to consider with fertilizer in the fall.  Whether it is pre-buying or fall applying the decision is very important. With most growers going to no-till, the practice of fall fertilizing has seen a major reduction but the questions still get asked. One of the big reasons people look to fall fertilizing is to reduce the spring work load. As we are striving for greater yields we are putting on more and more product. Applying more product can create logistical challenges of how to get more acres seeded in spring while also applying 300 lbs of product? Fall fertilizing does help to spread out the work load by getting a large amount of the product on in a less stressful time frame.

In some areas the reason that growers are fall fertilizing is because of product availability. Once the product is applied you have it and are not worried about industry shortages or plant failures.

The next thing with fall fertilizing is the changes in the nitrogen products. Now a lot of people ask me what has changed. Well all of the main changes is in Urea nitrogen. There are products that have come out that are slowing the release of the nitrogen or stabilizing the nitrogen so that it makes the product less able to leach or denitrify. Leaching or denitrification has been the main reasons why growers have gone away from applying fall fertilizer. With these new products it takes the stress away of worrying that you will loss the product you are putting on.

Agrotain is a nitrogen stabilizing product that slows down the conversion of urea to ammonia thus reducing volatilization do to surface applications of urea. Agrotain Plus has the additional ability of inhibiting the conversion of ammonium to nitrate which reduces losses of urea to leaching and denitrification. These products can be applied by the retailer at time of pickup so that the product is ready to go when you are giving you 7 to 21 days of control.

The next product available to growers is ESN from Agrium. ESN is a controlled release product that has a polymer coating applied to urea. This coating is a permeable polymer which allows the soil water to come in and dissolved the urea granule. Then once the urea is in solution it is slowly released through the polymer membrane to provide the crop with timely nitrogen. One of the features with this product is if there is not enough moisture to keep the urea in solution the urea will return to its solid form and will wait in the coating until there is enough moisture to go into solution again.

The last product I will talk about is not yet registered in Canada but is in the regulatory process is called Nutrisphere-N. This product is similar to Agrotain in that it is a urease inhibitor as well as it can reduce losses due to leaching and denitrification. The main difference is that it will last all season long. It can be applied at your retail when you pick up your product.

There are lots of options to make fall fertilizing successful for your operation but remember these products are tools and have to be used properly to make them work the best for you.

Those are my thoughts,

Garth Donald C.C.A.


Garth Donald

I was raised on a mixed grains and livestock farm South West of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba close to the small community called Edwin where I was heavily involved in our farm. I started farming at the age of 14 renting 160 acres from my uncle which I mainly grew sunflowers. I went to school in MacGregor, Manitoba where I receive my grade twelve diploma. After I graduated I work full time on our farm until the fall of 2004 when I got at job at McCain Foods Ltd. in Portage la Prairie where I was working in the stock room. I was in charge of receiving goods and entering them into inventory as well as assisting the maintenance, electrical staff in getting them the parts they need to keep the plant running. After working shift work for a year I realized that it wasn’t my passion in life so I enrolled in the Agri Business program at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba. There I learned about agronomy, marketing and business. In between my first and second year I worked for Manitoba Pool Elevators at Petrel, Manitoba where I was in charge of many duties which included filling Anhydrous Ammonia tanks, blending fertilizer, equipment maintenance, soil sampling, field scouting, floating and mainly spraying. That year I sprayed 15,000 acres which isn’t a lot for most standards but that area is largely in the production of potatoes which is very intensive. After returning back to college for the fall I knew that I wanted to be in Ag retail so upon my completion of my course I accepted a position as a field man with an independent company called Beiseker Agri Services. After 12 years of being with this company and a name change to DynAgra Corp. along the way I have held many titles within the company from field agronomist to Corporate Sales Manager. My new title is Western Canadian Manager of Agronomy and my role is to manage and sell our Variable Rate Technology program as well as our FlexiScout scouting program.


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