Large Urea Granules for Broadcast Application in No-till Cropping - Alberta Agriculture - Lethbridge AB

Large and regular sized urea applied with and without urease and nitrification inhibitors, surface applied in fall or spring under no-till cropping.


07 Jun 2010

Project Description

Earlier research in Alberta and North Dakota showed that using larger granules of urea compared to regular sized ag-grade urea was a means of increasing crop yield and reducing the potential for denitrification losses by slowing down nitrification of urea nitrogen (N).


Potential Benefits to the Ag Industry
  • This would allow a low cost, low energy input method of applying N to no-till cropped fields in the NGP.
  • Significant areas of the NGP now apply broadcast applications of regular sized urea in the fall or in the spring prior to planting. Under conditions conducive to ammonia volatilization, N losses have been measured for fall and spring surface broadcast applications of urea (Engel 2008, and Engel 2009).
  • There is potential to allow farmers to apply N in the fall at a time when urea N prices are usually less than the following spring prices, and spread out their work load by applying N in the fall and having less fertilizer to handle just before or at planting in the spring.
  • This technology (fall broadcast applications of large granule urea treated with a urease and nitrification inhibitor) can be used in both fall and spring no-till planted wheat and barley, and spring planted canola cropping systems.

If this initial research shows an advantage for the large granule urea treated with urease and nitrification inhibitors this research will be expanded to multiple locations in Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba for further evaluations and generation of research data under different agro-ecological zones.


Experimental Factors
Timing (2): Fall compared Spring applications
Urea Granule Size (2): regular 3mm and large 10 mm size urea granules
Inhibitor Additions ( 3): regular untreated urea, urea treated with Agrotain, and urea treated with Agrotain plus a nitrification inhibitor (DCD)
Incorporation (3): no incorporation, harrowing incorporation, and sweep chisel-plow tillage incorporation

Experimental Design
The study will be a four replicate, factorial design, with the inclusion of a no-N control treatment, and a standard farmer practice of side-banding at planting treatment for comparison purposes. The last two treatments will not part of the factorial design and statistical analysis, but are included to assess N response and how the technologies being evaluated compare to standard farm N applications for central Alberta.