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The Importance of Protecting your Nitrogen Investment

When managing your farm, you need to make sound decisions that make the most out of your inputs to maximise production while taking care of land and livestock. One such management decision is ensuring you’re applying the right amount of fertiliser at the best time for crops and pastures to get the most benefit from it.

importance of protecting nitrogen

The application of fertiliser is an investment in time and money for growers. So the last thing you want is for its nutrients, like nitrogen, to become depleted before they are even washed into the soil profile. This process is known as volatilisation. Volatilisation reduces the amount of nitrogen in urea fertiliser. It can happen due to a number of conditions and factors like temperature, soil moisture, pH, ground cover, wind and soil-clay percentage.


There have been extensive field trials conducted to understand when and how much nitrogen is lost to volatilisation. One study, by NSW DPI, recorded losses of less than 10%  in four top-dressed mid tillering wheat crops over a month in winter. However, the nitrogen loss was more significant in fallowed paddocks applied in spring with a loss of greater than 30 percent recorded.

As you would expect, the loss of nitrogen to volatilisation impacts your bottom line not only because you lose the effectiveness of the fertiliser applied but also production loss as a result of decreased soil nitrogen.

A way to mitigate this risk is to hope for rain directly after application. However, this rain event needs to wash the fertiliser at least 50 mm into the soil and how often does this happen?


Managing Director, Ross York advises growers to follow the best practices of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship initiative by selecting the right source of fertilizer, applying it at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place.

Along with the 4Rs, York also looks at what products can help individual growers. “One way to manage this loss is with a urea fertiliser that has been treated with a nitrogen stabiliser, like NEXEN that is pre-treated with AGROTAIN” said York.

York, said the company was confident in the product under Australian conditions.  As AGROTAIN, the active ingredient in NEXEN had been tested in a range of conditions by respected research agencies including the University of Melbourne and the CSIRO..

“Field trials have proven that AGROTAIN was able to reduce loss of nitrogen by up to 70 percent,” York said, adding it was trailed in the grain, dairy and cane industries.

NEXEN makes protecting your nitrogen investment easy as it both supplies and stabilisers N in one surface application. It works by delaying hydrolysis of urea and stops ammonia volatilisation in the process.

To learn more about how you can protect your nitrogen investment, speak with your KFAUS sales representative.

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