Nitrogen Stewardship, Step One: Protecting Your Nitrogen Investment

Nitrates have been the buzzword in the statewide media for the past two years. Most of the talk started in early 2015 when Des Moines Water Works brought a lawsuit against 13 drainage districts in Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties. The lawsuit claimed the districts and farmers were not doing enough to keep nitrates out of the streams of the Raccoon River. While this lawsuit was dismissed this March, the pressure is still on to manage nitrates in our streams and rivers.

Managing our nitrogen and being good stewards of this nutrient is a multi-step process. Below are some questions you may have on what Key believes is one of the first steps in managing your nitrogen investment: using a nitrogen stabilizer. While there are several good products on the market for this, our products of choice are N-Serve® for anhydrous fertilizer and Instinct® II for UAN.

When do nitrogen losses occur?
Most nitrogen losses occur during the spring when rain and warm soil temperatures lead to heavy losses through leaching and denitrification.

How do N-Serve and Instinct II work?
N-Serve and Instinct II inhibit the Nitrosomonas bacteria in the soil, keeping nitrogen in the stable ammonium form longer and protecting against leaching and denitrification. Protection from leaching is the number one way to prevent nitrates from getting into our streams and rivers.

Why should you use a nitrogen stabilizer?
Nitrogen stabilizers:

• Keep nitrogen in plant zone longer
• Ensure nitrogen availability when plants need it
• Protect your nitrogen investment
• Protect the environment and nitrogen in the root zone by reducing denitrified greenhouse gases and leaching into groundwater

What are some of the agronomic and economic benefits?
• Increased yield
• Improved standability
• Reduced risk of stalk rot
• Increased grain protein
• Faster crop drydown

The combined environmental and economic benefits of N-Serve and Instinct II make these products a win-win for the environment and the grower. The use of a nitrogen stabilizer is one of the cornerstones of our SUSTAIN platform. If you are interested in using a nitrogen stabilizer for the first time or joining our SUSTAIN platform, please contact your local Key Cooperative Sales Agronomist.

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