Get More Out of Your N Applications Using a Nitrogen Stabilizer

FBN Network

Jun 05, 2024

Share this article on:

If you’re planning a sidedress fertilizer application of nitrogen (N) for your crops, consider utilizing a nitrogen stabilizer to maximize that application and help improve yield and quality.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • Why Does Nitrogen Loss Occur?

  • What Are Nitrogen Stabilizers?

  • How Do Nitrogen Stabilizers Work?

  • 3 Types of Nitrogen Stabilizers 

Why Does Nitrogen Loss Occur?

An essential nutrient for crop growth and quality, nitrogen is one of the most commonly used fertilizers. However, crops only effectively utilize 50% of the N that is applied, according to studies.

Plant-usable forms of nitrogen are often lost through the processes of denitrification, leaching, or volatilization. This means a portion of the nitrogen you put down in your fields won’t ever reach your crops.

When you only use plant-usable forms of N, you’re basically tossing a portion of your nitrogen budget to the wind. This loss of N can decrease crop quality and yields at the end of the season, which ultimately impacts your bottom line.

Learn more about nitrogen and other macronutrients in the FBN® blog “What’s in Your Soil.”

What Are Nitrogen Stabilizers?

Nitrogen stabilizers are crop protection products that help to reduce N loss through the prevention of the process of ammonia volatilization, denitrification, nitrification, or urease production via action on soil bacteria.

How Do Nitrogen Stabilizers Work?

There are many nitrogen stabilizers that can be applied to slow the process of nitrogen converting to nitrate (NO3) for the plant’s use. 

It’s important to note that N stabilizers alone won’t increase yield — they simply protect the usability of the N fertilizer that helps the plant reach its yield potential.

3 Types of Nitrogen Stabilizers

Nitrogen stabilizers can be divided into three primary categories: nitrification inhibitors, urease inhibitors, and slow-release coated fertilizers.

1. Nitrification Inhibitors 

Nitrification inhibitors slow the nitrifying bacteria that convert ammonium (NH4) to nitrate. While both forms are usable by the plant, nitrate is more likely to be lost to leaching and denitrification. Nitrification inhibitors are most beneficial on wet or poorly drained soils.

2. Urease Inhibitors

Urease inhibitors are applied to urea and urea-containing fertilizers, such as UAN, and prevent it from converting to ammonia (NH3) gas, which is subsequently lost to the air. These are most effective for surface applications and in no-till scenarios, where N is more prone to volatilization. 

Learn about the ROI potential of reducing tillage in the free guide The ROI of Regenerative Agriculture from FBN Finance.

3. Slow-Release Coated Fertilizers 

Slow-release coated fertilizers are conventional fertilizers that have a water-insoluble coating of sulfur and/or polymers. The coating allows the fertilizer to provide a gradual supply of N to the plant. 

Selecting and using the right nitrogen stabilizer can lead to more efficient, optimized use of your applied N. And for farmers who might over-apply to compensate for N loss, that can translate to a lower overall spend from the fertilizer line item in your budget. 

Weather and other environmental conditions can impact any of the above options, so be mindful of your own unique context and/or consult an agronomist when selecting a nitrogen stabilizer for your farm and fields.

Get Answers to Your Fertilizer Questions

As an FBN member, you can chat with a member of our Agronomy team to get answers to questions about fertilizers and other measures you can take to promote crop health.

You can also get answers to your questions 24/7 when you use Norm, our artificial intelligence ag advisor. Norm is built off ChatGPT’s language model and trained on data from Ag Extension Services, the USDA, and more to answer your agriculture questions.

Purchase Fertilizer from FBN

Take control of your fertilizer needs through FBN, your one-stop shop for high-uptake nutrients like Inhabit N™ and more crop nutrition products

Get fertilizer delivered straight to your farm — or schedule free pick-up at your local FBN Hub

Related Resources

© 2014 - 2024 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network”, “FBN”, "Farmers First", “FBN Direct” , "F2F", and "F2F Genetics Network" are trademarks or registered trademarks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc.

FBN Direct products and services and other products distributed by FBN Direct are offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and are available only in states where FBN Inputs, LLC is licensed and where those products are registered for sale or use, if applicable. If applicable, please check with your local extension service to ensure registration status. Nothing contained on this page, including the prices listed should be construed as an offer for sale, or a sale of products. All products and prices are subject to change at any time and without notice and excludes CA mills tax and MN ACRRA fees. Terms and conditions apply.

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS. It is a violation of federal and state law to use any pesticide product other than in accordance with its label. The distribution, sale and use of an unregistered pesticide is a violation of federal and/or state law and is strictly prohibited. We do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided on this page or which is provided by us in any form. It is your responsibility to confirm prior to purchase and use that a product is labeled for your specific purposes, including, but not limited to, your target crop or pest and its compatibility with other products in a tank mix and that the usage of a product is otherwise consistent with federal, state and local laws.  We reserve the right to restrict sales on a geographic basis in our sole discretion. You must have a valid applicator license to use restricted use pesticides.  Please consult your state department of agriculture for complete rules and regulations on the use of restricted use pesticides, as some products require specific record-keeping requirements.

FBN Network

Jun 05, 2024

Share this article on:
Download Crop Nutrition Guide
Boost your crop vitality with the Farmers First™ portfolio.
You Need It. We Got It.
Shop online & get crop protection delivered direct.
Free Balance Sheet
Track your assets, liabilities and more with this template.
Operating Loans
Apply online to get an FBN® approval decision instantly.