Focus on easy nitrogen management in vegetables
Looking to improve nitrogen management? Switching to a liquid nitrogen fertiliser could be the answer. Incitec Pivot Fertilisers Technical Agronomist Conrad Leeks explores its potential to improve operational ease and crop growth.
Using a liquid nitrogen fertiliser to supply pre-plant nitrogen to vegetables has the potential to make nitrogen management easier and more efficient in a number of ways.
“We know that vegetable crops, particularly leafy crops, often need a good kick start with nitrogen,” Incitec Pivot Fertilisers Technical Agronomist Conrad Leeks explains.
“A great way to give these crops the nitrogen they need is to apply a liquid fertiliser into the soil pre-plant.”
EASY N liquid nitrogen from Incitec Pivot Fertilisers contains 42.5 per cent nitrogen (weight/volume), with half as urea and the other half in the nitrate and ammonium forms.
This high total concentration of nitrogen means the liquid is a genuine alternative to urea or other granular nitrogen fertilisers for soil applications.
“Using this liquid fertiliser gives your crops immediate access to nitrate nitrogen for a strong start and a reserve of urea and ammonium nitrogen to be used over the coming weeks. This ensures they get the nitrogen they need when they need it,” Conrad says.
“It is a superior solution to dissolved fertilisers in both analysis and consistency.”
The product can be applied to the soil in the same ways and times as granular fertilisers. The only difference is the ease of application.
“EASY N makes fertiliser operations easy for growers – it’s easy to apply and our simple ordering and delivery services mean it’s easy to get started,” Conrad says.
Conrad says some growers prefer on-farm tanks where this product can be safely stored from season to season, so the fertiliser is always on hand. It is also available in 1,000 litre intermediate bulk containers that are delivered to the farm.
“With this product, there’s no bag handling, no hassle with disposing plastic bags, no dust, no waiting for products to dissolve and no manual lifting or use of augers – you let your pumps do all the heavy work,” Conrad says.
By using the liquid fertiliser, growers can also improve the control they have over the precision of application to match crop requirements more closely.
“This means lower rates can be applied with higher accuracy and it can be metered precisely for variable rate applications where required,” Conrad explains.
Conrad says Incitec Pivot Fertilisers is backing EASY N for vegetable growers with product development and trial work.
“We believe this product has the potential to offer even more for growers.”
As part of this focus, Conrad has established a field trial in a lettuce crop in South Australia using rates of 100 L/ha of EASY N pre-plant.
This trial is comparing the product with and without a nitrification inhibitor, and monitoring nitrate levels in soil and plant tissue post-harvest to investigate whether there are yield and quality increases from using it.
The nitrification inhibitor, eNpower™, is currently available on granular nitrogen fertilisers and is used for limiting excess flushes of nitrate nitrogen in the soil after application; therefore, reducing the risk of leaching or denitrification losses in wet conditions.
“We’re evaluating the option of combining EASY N and eNpower to give growers even more control over their nitrogen management,” Conrad says.
Product development work is also ongoing to investigate the potential for additional liquid nutrient solutions, including calcium nitrate.
Vegetable growers considering switching to this liquid fertiliser for pre-plant nitrogen applications are advised to first arrange soil testing to determine the required rates of nitrogen and any other nutrients.
“It may be that nitrogen is the only nutrient required, but a comprehensive soil test is needed to make sure,” Conrad says.
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Cover image: Incitec Pivot Fertilisers has established a field trial in lettuce this summer using EASY N with and without a nitrification inhibitor.