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Is it a good idea to apply urea in late fall?


December 17, 2021
By Dan Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist, University of Minnesota Extension

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While much of the field work around Minnesota has slowed, the rising cost of fertilizer and uncertainty surrounding fertilizer availability for spring 2022 may have some still thinking about late fall application options. Urea can be a tempting option for fall application because it is easy to apply with a floater, but is this a good practice?

Urea is a dry source of nitrogen that can be lost to the atmosphere via ammonia volatilization and to water via nitrate leaching. Risk of volatilization is more immediate and can occur regardless of soil temperature. If urea is applied on the soil surface, or even with shallow incorporation, it is at risk of loss via volatilization as it dissolves. Many people think that as long as it is 50 degrees or colder, urea cannot be lost to water. While products containing NBPT, such as Agrotain, can help delay this process, there still can be risk of loss if urea is not incorporated into the soil mechanically or with at least a quarter inch of rain.  | READ MORE


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