Knowledge Center for Agriculture Solutions | Koch Agronomic Services
Knowledge Center for Agriculture Solutions | Koch Agronomic Services
Protecting Nitrogen Could Help Lower Input Costs
Article Categories: Blog Icon BLOG, Nitrogen Loss
Growers are looking for options to save money. Some may consider reducing costs by not protecting their applied nitrogen, but the numbers won’t add up the way they think they will.

Growers who make this decision could lose even more in the long run with the increased risk of lower yields.

A nutrient management plan without a nitrogen stabilizer will save a grower money up front, but it can put them at an economic disadvantage by the end of the growing season. By following good stewardship practices and utilizing nitrogen stabilizers to protect their input investment, growers can optimize their yields and add to their bottom line.

“Depending upon factors out of a grower’s control, nitrogen fertilizer is susceptible to losing a significant percentage of what is applied,” said Tim Laatsch, director of North America agronomy for Koch Agronomic Services (KAS). “Protecting their nitrogen investment is always a best management practice and crucial to making the most of yield potential.”

Stewardship and Input Costs

To maximize yield results, growers need to start with best practices in the field. The 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework has helped growers reach their cropping goals by laying out plans to incorporate the right nutrient source at the right rate, at the right time and right place. Poorly managed applications can decrease profits and increase nutrient losses. By following the 4R guidelines, growers will keep nutrients available for plant uptake and optimizing yield.

The 4R framework requires growers to match their nutrient supply with crop requirements in order to minimize losses. Nitrogen is vulnerable to loss as soon as it is applied and can be hastened by limiting factors like inclement weather, soil temperature and soil conditions. Depending on those limiting factors, nitrogen fertilizer is susceptible to losing a significant percentage of its nitrogen via three loss mechanisms: ammonia volatilization, denitrification and nitrate leaching.

Nitrogen is one of the biggest input costs growers will have each year. Applying additional untreated nitrogen to make up for losses suffered through below-ground loss (denitrification and leaching) and above-ground loss (volatilization) may seem like a good solution, but instead can have issues of its own. The cost and the environmental consequences of applying above the recommended rate doesn’t comply with best practices.

Without protecting nitrogen, growers are decreasing their return on investment from the very beginning of the season.

Stabilizers Save Money

Nitrogen stabilizers are part of the 4R framework, helping growers increase yield and profits by protecting applied nitrogen from being lost.

“Making the spend to protect their nitrogen investment with a stabilizer not only minimizes their nitrogen loss potential, but it also maximizes the opportunity to keep that nitrogen where it needs to be for optimal yields,” said Kassidy Frederick, KAS product manager. “That’s good for their pocketbook and their fields.”

To help growers, KAS offers two nitrogen stabilizers to protect differing forms of applied nitrogen. CENTURO® nitrogen stabilizer is an easy-to-handle nitrification inhibitor offering below-ground protection for anhydrous ammonia or UAN, while ANVOL® nitrogen stabilizer extends above-ground protection of UAN and urea.

Bottom Line Math

Let’s look at two examples that show input costs and final investments of protecting and not protecting nitrogen.


A grower applies UAN at a rate of 60 pounds an acre. With an anticipated 25% loss without a stabilizer, this grower would miss out on 12-bushel per acre of lost yield potential based on a conversion rate of 0.8 lbs. of nitrogen per 1 bushel. On 500 acres, this equals 6,000 fewer total bushels. If corn prices are $6.901 a bushel, their lost potential earnings would be $41,400 from not protecting their nitrogen investment.

If the same grower protected their nitrogen with CENTURO, they would spend $5.30 an acre for UAN at a 1.5 quart per ton rate for a total cost of $2,650. In this case, the grower didn’t experience the $41,400 loss in yields by using CENTURO, making the positive return on investment 15:1 per acre.

ANVOL on Urea

Losses to ammonia volatilization can be as high as 40% if urea is not adequately incorporated, but in a system with lesser loss pressures, we can use 20% as a loss factor. In this example, if a grower in this situation were to apply urea at the rate of 150 pounds per acre, they could lose out on up to 24 bushels per acre. At 500 acres, that translates into 12,000 fewer bushels. With corn prices at $6.901 a bushel, the loss that grower has realized by not protecting their applied nitrogen equals $82,800.

If that same grower had protected their urea with ANVOL at a rate of 1.5 quarts per ton and a price of $16.45 per acre, the cost for the solution on 500 acres would be $8,225. By protecting the nitrogen investment with ANVOL, they would see a $74,575 profit with a 9:1 per acre increase over not protecting their input.

Doing the right thing for nutrient stewardship pays off. In both examples, growers following best practices and using nitrogen stabilizers to protect input investments would see higher yields and higher profits.

To learn more about the economic benefits of CENTURO and ANVOL nitrogen stabilizers, contact your KAS representative today.

NOTICE: These calculations are provided on an “as is” basis. The data and material contained in these calculations are provided for informational purposes only. Actual results may vary based on a number of factors, including environmental conditions. Yield benefits from application of stabilizer products to nitrogen fertilizer will only occur if nitrogen loss is a limiting factor. Before use, consult the product packaging and labeling for information regarding the product's characteristics, uses, safety, efficacy, hazards and health effects.

1Corn price is based on listed price in November 2022. Koch Agronomic Services, LLC (KAS) assumes no liability or action taken in reliance upon information contained in the calculations nor does KAS assume any responsibility or risk related to any persons use or reliance on the calculations. To the fullest extent allowed by applicable law no warranty, express or implied, is made including, but not limited to, implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, which are specifically excluded.

Article Categories: Blog Icon BLOG, Nitrogen Loss
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