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Make the most of your nitrogen fertilizer

Read Time: 4 minutes

By the Cargill team December 01, 2021

Protect your investment with a nitrogen stabilizer

It’s no secret that nitrogen fertilizer plays a key role in crop yield and overall profitability. Application techniques are generally efficient at providing adequate nitrogen for crops to reach their full potential. However, dry, windy conditions on the prairies mean you need to account for naturally occurring losses. In these conditions, volatilization can account for a loss up to 40% of your nitrogen investment.

Let’s attach some numbers to it: 40% of 100 lb is 40 lb of N, which is enough nitrogen to support 13 bushels of canola. That’s a pretty big loss, especially when fertilizer prices are high.

Volatilization occurs during the natural conversion of urea-based fertilizers (EG: urea and UAN) into a plant-available form of ammonium. Once ammonium is produced, it’s vulnerable to gaseous loss into the atmosphere if it doesn’t have enough of a layer “trapping” it in the soil profile. Volatilization rates just gets worse when conditions such as drought, wind, or high temperatures follow application. Additionally, if the following conditions are applicable to your farm, you are at a higher risk for volatilization losses:

  • Shallow banded fertilizer less than 2” deep
  • Sandy or loamy soil that does not hold moisture
  • Less than ½” of rainfall following fertilizer application Hot, windy conditions
  • Former hay land that is coarse and bumpy
  • Broadcast urea-based fertilizer without incorporation With that in mind, here are three questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re getting both good weed control and an early seeding date


Nitrogen stabilizers

Are some of these points uncomfortably familiar to you? That’s okay! There is a way that you can reduce the rate of volatilization without making major equipment or operational changes. Treat your urea or UAN with a nitrogen stabilizer.

Nitrogen stabilizers work by disrupting the naturally occurring enzyme urease. Urease is everywhere in the soil and is primarily responsible for converting urea into vulnerable ammonium. Decelerated enzyme activity means decelerated conversion from urea to ammonium, so your nitrogen stays in the urea form longer and is protected from gaseous losses. 


Incorporating a nitrogen stabilizer is a best management practice for 4R Nutrient Stewardship, serving as a tool that not only maximizes fertilizer efficiency, but also improves sustainability. 


Not all nitrogen stabilizers are the same. Choose a product that treats and handles nicely and has an appropriate concentration of active ingredient, NBPT (about 600 ppm for Western Canada) to be effective. I often recommend Anvol®.

On top of the traditional NBPT that other nitrogen stabilizers carry, Anvol®.  also contains Duromide, a promising new technology that lengthens the window of protection by 27%. Additionally, the product is highly concentrated, allowing you to apply a minimal amount of product while still ensuring the required concentration of NBPT to be effective in Western Canada. With the treatment of this product, you need not recalibrate or adjust your equipment, and you can apply your fertilizer in exactly the same way as untreated UAN or urea. As a bonus, Cargill can treat it for you.

Using Anvol® can give you the confidence you need in your nitrogen investment and application. If you’d like to know more, talk to your Cargill representative. We can help make your fertilizer investment go further.

Always read and follow label directions. Anvol®  is a registered trademark of Koch Agronomic Services, LLC.