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Debunking the Myth: More Nitrogen is Not Always the Answer

With the growing season in full swing and grain prices high (farmgate price in excess of $300/t in some cases˟), growers will naturally be looking to capitalize on them. Some may be tempted to apply more nitrogen fertilizer to get higher yields, but more unprotected nitrogen could mean more nitrogen loss, a lost investment with no yield advantage.

Tractor with fertiliser spreader in field


All plants need nitrogen to grow, and crops demand varying levels of nitrogen throughout the growth cycle. A theme found in research is the higher the nitrogen application rate, the higher the loss a grower can experience as a percent of the nitrogen applied. Simply put, applying excessive kilograms of unprotected nitrogen can translate to additional losses.

To achieve optimal yields and to be good stewards of the land, the 4R guidelines encourages growers to select the right source of fertiliser, apply it at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place. Thinking about nitrogen management plans through the lens of the 4Rs can help a grower more efficiently use their nitrogen investment.

“Many growers are opting to apply more kilograms of nitrogen instead of making the investment to protect it. This is ultimately affecting their bottom line and is not in keeping with best practice set out by the 4 R’s” said Ross York, Managing Director, KFAUS.

According to York, given the high cost of commodities, there is no better time to consider using a nitrogen stabiliser to protect your N investment.

When it comes to the decision to apply more nitrogen over protecting with a N stabiliser, York believes growers often choose the former as a result of misconceptions which exist in the marketplace. “N stabilisers have gotten somewhat of a bad rap here in Australia due to a few key factors namely, misinformation, perceived high cost and lack of available research”.

When looking at the decision to use a nitrogen stabiliser, York feels that growers often get stuck on cost.  Instead, they should focus on performance. “You want to know that you’re getting the most out of every seed and every input you’re putting in your paddock to gain the most revenue you can from these higher grain prices.”

One great way to illustrate the need for nitrogen stabilisers over that of simply applying more N is to consider the following. If you have a hole in the fence and cattle are escaping through that hole, do you keep putting in more cattle or simply patch the hole?

Remembering that the true cost of applying nitrogen increases with each pass over your paddock, the price of fewer passes when using a stabiliser can be of value – potentially saving you time, money and resources.


Committed to creating long-term value for growers, KFAUS offers solutions to minimize applied nitrogen loss.

NEXEN ® stabilised nitrogen delivers protection, over a wide range of soil environments, making it ideal for year-round applications,” said York. NEXEN combines urea with Agrotain, one of the most proven urease inhibitors on the market. It protects applied nitrogen against ammonia volatilisation while also reducing overall labour demands.

NEXEN prevents loss of N to the atmosphere in a process known as volatilisation. Up to 30% of growers nitrogen investment can be lost to this process. Meaning less N available for future plant uptake.

At 100kg/ha this is approx. $3/Ha or around $1/Acre. Now more than ever it makes sense for you to use NEXEN.

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