Fertilizer Management and Nutrient Use Efficiency

Fertilizer plays a critical role in soil fertility and plant nutrition and can have a significant impact on grower’s profit due to the cost and effects on yield. By following good management practices such as those employed in the 4R Nutrient Stewardship (1) concept and focusing on efficient uptake and use of fertilizer, growers can take advantage of economic and environmental advantages.

What is 4R Nutrient Stewardship?

The four-pillar framework aims to help growers achieve cropping goals such as increased production, increased profitability, enhanced environmental protection and improved sustainability by using the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place.

Supplying Macro and Micronutrients

Fertilizer supplies the soil with nutrients needed for good crop growth, by replenishing nutrients lost to plant growth, leaching, and volatilization. While there are 17 essential plant elements needed for plant growth, only 14 can be supplemented by fertilizer and Nitrogen (N) makes up the highest percentage in plant tissue.

Nitrogen’s Role in Plant Growth

Nitrogen plays a crucial role in plant growth, affects many physiological functions, and it is present in various parts of a plant. Nitrogen is a significant component of the amino acids in the proteins and enzymes involved in plant metabolism and transport of water and mineral nutrients across the membranes of plant cells. It makes up a large part of the chlorophyll found in plants, which is used to make sugars that feed the plant. In addition, nitrogen impacts plant growth regulation as well as the development of proteins present in a crop’s grains, fruits, and seeds.” (2)

The Need for Nitrogen Efficiency

Improving N application practices requires knowledge about the nitrogen cycle (2), an awareness of soil testing limitations as it pertains to N, and a good understanding of plant physiology. While soil testing is the most common nutrient management tool, it is not a good predictor of N availability through the growth season due to factors such as high crop requirements, soil cycling, and environmental losses that influence the amount of N present in a soil at any given time.

The most important goal of nitrogen management is attaining high nitrogen use efficiency – which means getting the best yield while using the least amount of N possible. Good N management requires an understanding of how and when N is used by a crop as well as how environmental conditions affect N availability. High N efficiency can be obtained when the minimum needed to gain optimal yield is applied at a time of rapid uptake by the plant and by stimulating the physiological plant process that metabolize nitrogen.

Zcat421 Maximizes the Efficiency of Nitrogen Applications

To improve efficiency, some fertilizers slow their release into the soil, for example by coating the granules to decelerate the dissolving of granules to inhibit the conversion of N to forms that are less stable in the soil. Others may have mechanisms that interfere with the biological processes that effect N conversion. An innovative product by Italpollina works differently. Rather than treating the N in the fertilizer, Zcat421 maximizes the benefits of N applications (wet or dry). The technology in this product helps get nutrients to where crops can use them in the soil, and it enhances the ability of a plant to uptake and metabolize N quickly and effectively.

Zcat421 is a 4-0-0 specialty fertilizer with complexed zinc and manganese. It contains proprietary SoilAid Technology and a high concentration of what they call Plant Stimulating Peptides. The SoilAid Technology reduces the surface tension of water and improves water-repellent conditions in soil to help increase uniform distribution of water and nutrients to the root zone. The Plant Stimulating Peptides, including Lateral Root Promoting Peptides, enhance the plant’s ability to assimilate N and other nutrients by regulating specific metabolic pathways and enzymes within the plant structure. The technology in Zcat421 has been shown to improve metabolism for plant growth, root growth, and improve yield potential. Zcat421 can be added to liquid top dress, side dress, fertigation and dry application fertilizers. Zcat421 is not a nitrogen stabilizer and it is not intended to replace nitrogen stabilizers. For more information visit Italpollina.com or email info.usa@italpollina.com.

 

(1) https://nutrientstewardship.org/4rs/

(2) https://biostimulant.com/blog-11-protein-hydrolysates-and-nitrogen/

(3) http://npk.okstate.edu/nitrogen/cycle