A study by Iowa State University shows farmers who fertilized their fields in the fall may lose more than they gained. Anhydrous ammonia is the common nitrogen fertilizer applied by farmers in the fall. I-S-U agronomy professor Alfred Blackmer says warmer temperatures this winter let bacteria in the soil convert the nitrogen into nitrates at a fast rate. He says the conversion will continue in the spring as the soil warms even more. Unlike nitrogen, spring rains wash nitrates away. He says studies shownitrogen losses of over 50-percent, and in some cases as high as 70-percent. Blackmer says those rates of nitrogen loss are much higher than originally thought. He says farmers can save nitrogen, and dollars, by applying anhydrous in the spring. Blackmer says at least 30-percent of Iowa farmers, and probably more, may apply nitrogen in the fall. Blackmer says those farmers often say there isn’t enough equipment to apply the nitrogen in the spring. But he says that can be changed, and would save farmers money.
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