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Fertilizer Savings


Research in Montana has shown that split applications of nitrogen does not significantly affect yields if the early season nitrogen application was adequate for the grain yield potential. Irrigated spring wheat grain protein can be increased by 0.5 to 2.0% with the application of late-season nitrogen when early-season nitrogen application is adequate. Research in 1988 showed no difference in yields between deep-banded fertilizer and top-dressing fertilizer. No more than 30 pounds of nitrogen should be applied with the seed when applying ammonium nitrate (34-0-0) or urea (46-0-0).

An on-going “Strip Till Study on Sugar Beets” at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), ARS, Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, Montana uses two different methods of fertilizer application. Conventionally-tilled sugar beets had the fertilizer broadcast in the fall before fall conventional tillage operations were performed. In the strip till beets, the fertilizer was shanked into the tilled strips in the fall.

Prices for different nitrogen formulations are significantly different.

Prices of Nitrogen Formulations
Type of Formulation Percent Nitrogen Cost/Ton Cost/Pound
Ammonium nitrate 34-0-0 $366/ton $.54/lb
Anhydrous ammonia 82-0-0 $521/ton $.32/lb
Ammonium sulfate 21-0-0 $266/ton $.63/lb
Urea 46-0-0 $362/ton $.39/lb
UAN (Urea – Ammonium sulfate solution 28% N $232 $.41/lb
Diammonium phosphate 18-46-0 $337/ton $.26/lb

Source: NASS

The choice of nitrogen source should be based on cost, availability, necessary equipment needed, cropping system, and personal preference.