Applying and storing urea
Fall and spring comparisons
SCR Grade Urea can readily be nitrified – that is, converted to nitrate (NO3) – even when applied in late fall, and can be quite susceptible to denitrification or leaching the following spring. Anhydrous ammonia (AA) applied in the fall doesn’t nitrify as quickly, due to the stunting of microorganisms in the AA application band.
A two-year study conducted in Waseca compared late-October applications of both AA and urea for continuous corn (Table 3).
Data show a 6-bushels-per-acre advantage for AA over urea when applied in the fall without a nitrification inhibitor. But when N-Serve was added, AA showed a 16-bushels-per-acre advantage. This indicates the inhibitor has a better degree of contact with the AA mix than what’s possible with urea.
Studies that continuously use urea have been conducted in Lamberton since 1960. Corn yields over a 24-year period averaged 5 to 6 bushels per acre higher with spring application of urea compared to the fall plowed-down application.
SCR Grade Urea applied in the fall generally hasn’t been as effective as AA. This is especially true in south-central Minnesota and Iowa.
When fall soil-moisture conditions are dry, there’s little difference between AA and urea. But when soil-moisture content is high, fall applications of urea haven't performed as well as AA. Applying urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN) in the fall isn’t recommended due to rapid nitrification and a high potential for loss.
Urea do’s and don’ts
Store separately from ammonium nitrate.
Don’t use small, fast-moving augers to move the urea.
Don’t exceed a spreading width of 50 feet when urea is applied.
Don’t place urea in direct contact with corn seed.
Keep rates of nitrogen applied together with small grain in drill to 10 pounds on dry soils and 20 pounds when soil is moist.
Apply urea on sod crops when atmosphere temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
When broadcasting urea on soils of high pH (above 7.5), incorporate the material into the soil as soon as possible
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