Agrium Advanced Technologies (AAT) is taking aim at gaining share of the fall nitrogen application market at the expense of fall anhydrous ammonia application.

Using the same reasoning as why fall anhydrous ammonia application makes sense—mainly that weather can cause delays and challenges with spring nitrogen (N) applications in the northern U.S.—AAT contends fall applications of ESN Smart Nitrogen can help eliminate the weather issue.

AAT says farmers can apply all of their N in the fall and not have to worry about another application in the spring when they use ESN Smart Nitrogen.

ESN is a controlled-release fertilizer consisting of a urea granule encapsulated in a polyurethane coating. This allows the N to release from the granule at a rate controlled by moisture and soil temperature, providing continuous feeding of N when the plant needs it most.

“We recommend fall applications for areas where the soil stays frozen during the winter, like Western Canada and the U.S. Northern Plains,” said Alan Blaylock, Ph.D., AAT agronomy manager. “Fall ESN application timing should follow recommendations for anhydrous ammonia—apply when soil temperatures are below 50 degrees F.”

Similar to anhydrous ammonia application, fall-applied ESN shouldn’t be made to sandy soils or areas prone to high spring leaching or denitrification losses.

Growers in the Northern Corn Belt can have a complete fertilization by blending ESN with phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). The main consideration is that fall-applied ESN should be incorporated or subsurface banded and not left on the soil surface over winter.

AAT claims ESN has an advantage over anhydrous ammonia in not making farmers burn fuel by making a separate trip across the field with a high horsepower tractor pulling an applicator.  

“ESN protects N from leaching, volatilization and denitrification and allows you to apply the entire crop’s N needs at planting without worry of N loss through the winter,” said Blaylock.

Winter wheat growers who like to apply fertilizer with the seed at planting reportedly like the crop safety ESN provides. The protective coating on ESN allows farmers to apply N with the seed at up to three times the seed-safe rate of urea. Seed-placed ESN has increased wheat yields by as much as 7 bushels per acre over conventional urea, ATT reports.

Because ESN protects N from loss, it is easily adaptable to many N management programs and application timings.