The high cost of nitrogen fertiliser and tight supply is forcing growers to look at ways of reducing nitrogen rates and ensuring the maximum return from every kilogram of artificial nitrogen-based fertiliser that is applied.

This maize planting season, using a nitrogen stabiliser could stabilise enough N to allow growers to reduce applications by up to 20%, whilst still maintaining yields.

“The use of nitrogen stabilisers in the UK is growing, but is still reasonably limited, and this year the unprecedented high fertiliser prices and pressure on demand is bringing their use to the fore, and there really isn’t a better time to add them to your fertiliser programme,” explains Corteva’s Colin Bowers.

“Nitrogen stabilisers slow down the conversion of ammonium to nitrate, preventing nitrogen loss through leaching and denitrification, keeping more nitrogen in the rooting zone for longer, resulting in greater yield potential,” says Colin.

Trials using Instinct®, a nitrogen stabiliser marketed by Corteva, have shown a reduction in leaching of around 50%, and a reduction in denitrification through greenhouse gases of approximately 45%. Nitrogen is kept in the soil for longer, and for a maize crop, this has a significant impact on yields.

“Put simply, stabilisers increase and extend nitrogen availability. Across our trials program the average yield response is over 10%. However, given the current soaring prices, many growers will be reviewing their nitrogen program and perhaps be looking to use less nitrogen. For growers who traditionally would have used higher rates, Instinct® nitrogen stabiliser provides the flexibility to do this,” continues Colin.

“Many trials have shown that it is possible to reduce total nitrogen by 20% and still attain similar yields. With a kilo of nitrogen upwards of £1.50, reducing total applied nitrogen by 25 kilos per hectare saves more than £38 per hectare. By comparison, an application of Instinct® costs about £25 per hectare, with the additional benefits of extending the availability of nitrogen to the crop, and the environmental benefits of minimising environmental losses,” Colin concludes.

Instinct® is usually applied through a crop sprayer, either alone or with herbicides or UAN, but Instinct® can also be added to slurry spread or digestate and requires a single rate of 1.7l/ha. The most important element of use is ensuring good soil contact, so it should be applied before ploughing or when rain is due to ensure good incorporation.

Now is the time to take action to get the best out of your maize this year with reduced inputs. Ask your agronomist for more information.
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