Tag Archives: Fertilizer

Though fertilizer applications have begun to ramp up in some areas of the Corn Belt, average retail prices saw only small moves in either direction the second week of April 2019, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Prices for five of the eight major fertilizers were slightly higher than a month ago. Potash had an average price of $387 per ton, urea $404/ton, 10-34-0 $481/ton, UAN28 $271/ton and UAN32 $317/ton.

Average prices for the other three fertilizers were slightly lower. DAP had an average price of $505/ton, MAP $532/ton and anhydrous $592/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.44/lb.N, anhydrous $0.36/lb.N, UAN28 $0.48/lb.N and UAN32 $0.50/lb.N.

With some drier weather, fertilizer application is underway in areas of the Midwest, especially in the Western Corn Belt, after very little fertilizer was applied last fall. There have been some reports of retailers having anhydrous supply issues. But the issue hasn’t been widespread enough to affect the price, though regional shortages could create some price spikes.

John Oehlerking, a farmer from near Elmwood, Nebraska, told DTN that farmers in his area of southeastern Nebraska are finally seeing cooperative weather, and “everyone” is trying to beat the rain predicted to fall on Wednesday. He posted a video on Twitter Tuesday of long lines as area farmers attempted to weigh and pull anhydrous tanks to their fields.

“Everyone has been nervously watching the calendar, as our local co-op, Midwest Farmers Coop, has been very proactive and warning of the challenges that we were facing this spring with the logistics of nitrogen application and has been working diligently to minimize any impact that may occur,” Oehlerking said.

Some years, soils would dry from south to north. This would allow anhydrous to be put on in smaller areas, and transport trucks would follow the application season northward. To some extent, that didn’t happen this spring, as the weather is conducive for application now and everyone is trying to apply fertilizer at the same time, he said.

Oehlerking said his retailer has not run out of anhydrous, but there have been some long lines to get the product.

The predicted rain at midweek could help with replenishing fertilizer supplies, as local retailers will be able to reload their facilities while farmers take a break from fieldwork, Oehlerking said. However, considering the number of acres that still need to be covered this spring, the rush will be back on and the lines will return after the soils dry.

Some farmers may switch acres to UAN or urea, which might help with supply issues, but the logistics and cost difference might keep some from doing this, Oehlerking said. As spring progresses and some farmers finish their fertilizer applications that will free up more supplies. But that is still a little ways off, he said.

“We will make it through this,” Oehlerking said.

All eight of the major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices shifting higher. MAP is 5% more expensive, DAP is 6% higher, both urea and potash are 10% more expensive, both 10-34-0 and UAN28 are 13% higher and anhydrous and UAN32 are now both 16% more expensive compared to last year.

DTN collects roughly 1,700 retail fertilizer bids from 310 retailer locations weekly. Not all fertilizer prices change each week. Prices are subject to change at any time.

DTN Pro Grains subscribers can find current retail fertilizer price in the DTN Fertilizer Index on the Fertilizer page under Farm Business.

Retail fertilizer charts dating back to 2010 are available in the DTN fertilizer segment. The charts included cost of N/lb., DAP, MAP, potash, urea, 10-34-0, anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32.

DRY
Date Range DAP MAP POTASH UREA
Apr 9-13 2018 482 504 353 369
May 7-11 2018 483 505 354 366
Jun 4-8 2018 484 505 354 364
Jul 2-6 2018 485 504 354 366
Jul 30- Aug 3 2018 488 505 355 366
Aug 27-31 2018 487 513 357 365
Sep 24-28 2018 494 520 361 385
Oct 22-26 2018 499 518 366 406
Nov 19-23 2018 501 530 368 407
Dec 17-21 2018 508 532 377 407
Jan 14-18 2019 512 534 383 407
Feb 11-15 2019 512 537 385 405
Mar 11-15 2019 510 534 386 402
Apr 8-12 2019 505 532 387 404
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Apr 9-13 2018 427 510 241 275
May 7-11 2018 431 512 241 276
Jun 4-8 2018 440 503 241 276
Jul 2-6 2018 443 505 242 279
Jul 30- Aug 3 2018 443 498 242 279
Aug 27-31 2018 446 480 233 271
Sep 24-28 2018 449 493 236 278
Oct 22-26 2018 457 499 243 284
Nov 19-23 2018 457 520 246 287
Dec 17-21 2018 457 565 265 304
Jan 14-18 2019 462 580 270 305
Feb 11-15 2019 470 596 271 318
Mar 11-15 2019 469 596 269 318
Apr 8-12 2019 481 592 271 317

Iowa State University researchers concluded from a long-term field study that poultry manure, when applied at a rate to meet crop nitrogen (N) requirements, can reduce nitrate loss and achieve equal or better yields in corn-soybean production systems. This research effort, Long-term Effects of Poultry Manure Application on Nitrate Leaching in Tile Drain Waters, evaluated tile drained field plots over 12 cropping seasons. While this research focused on nitrate (NO­3-N) loss by field-tile drains (typically placed 3 to 6 feet deep), similar trends would be anticipated in Nebraska for nitrate leaching below the crop root zone and the eventual impacts on ground and, possibly, surface water quality.

The research team evaluated four N treatments, including poultry manure application rates of 150 lbs N/acre (PM150) and 300 lbs N/acre (PM300), urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) at 150 lbs N/acre (UAN150), and a control at 0 lbs N/acre (Control) on a tile-drained field near Ames, Iowa from 1998 to 2009. Manure and UAN were typically applied on the same day, typically between mid-April and mid-May. The research was conducted in loam soils with organic matter averaging 3.4% in the top 12 inches. Nitrate-N loss was measured from mid-March to October.

Animal Manures Reduce Nitrogen Transport

Graph of the average (1998-2009) cumulative NO<sub>3</sub>-N loss in response to interaction effects of N treatments
Figure 1. Average (1998-2009) cumulative NO3-N loss in response to interaction effects of N treatments

Take Home Message:  Poultry manure applied at agronomic rates reduces loss of nitrate from the crop root zone as compared to commercial fertilizer and over application of manure.

Average cumulative nitrate-N loss for the UAN150 treatment was significantly greater than nitrate-N experienced by the PM150 treatment (Figure 1). In addition, over application of animal manure (PM300) increased nitrate-N movement to tile drains more than an agronomic rate of commercial fertilizer (UAN150) or manure (PM150). Nitrate losses were highest from March through June (periods of low evapotranspiration rates and high precipitation) and lowest from July through September (low precipitation, higher evapotranspiration, and deeper root zone).

Why? Several factors contribute to the reduced nitrate losses from manure substituted for commercial fertilizer. A review of 141 studies by Xia (et al., 2017) where manure was substituted for fertilizer identified three likely explanations:

  • Slow release of N stored in manure’s organic matter results in N release later in the growing season.
  • Rapid soil microbial growth resulting from manure’s carbon (energy for microbes) immobilizes nitrate-N early in the growing season. This microbial N is released later in the crop growing season.
  • Improvements in soil properties including water stable soil aggregates and cation exchange capacity hold soil mineral N in place.

Similar results for reduced leaching of N from manured fields were observed by Xia (et al., 2017) in a review of 141 manure versus commercial fertilizer comparisons. (See Does Manure Benefit Crop Productivity? Environment?)

Yield and Nitrogen Source

Take Home Message:  Poultry manure demonstrates equal or greater yields than commercial fertilizer when applied at similar N rates.

Manure and fertilizer treatments were applied prior to corn planting in plots maintained in a corn-soybean rotation. On average, corn yield responded to N as follows:

PM300 > PM150 = UAN150 > Control

Soybean yield responded to N as follows:

PM300 > PM150 > UAN150 > Control

Actual yields are summarized in Table 1. The authors state that “The findings from this long-term study show promising results for the use of poultry manure to reduce NO3-N leaching to tile waters and improve yields when compared to traditional UAN application.”

Table 1. Average crop yields1 as a function of N treatment, based on 12 crop-years for corn and soybeans.
Crop PM300 PM150 UAN150 Control
Corn2 177a 161b 155b 92
Soybeans2 52a 49b 42c 36
1Corn and soybean yields corrected to 15.5% and 13% moisture, respectively.
2Values followed by the same letter are not significantly different.

When Does Nitrate-N Leach?

The 12-year evaluation period produced results commonly expected for movement of water to tile drains. Distribution of rainfall during the growing season impacted both water flow and nitrate concentrations. For example, higher than normal precipitation during April and May resulted in higher than normal tile flow volumes, nitrate concentrations in tile flow, and nitrate losses. Wet and dry cycles of weather conditions also influenced annual tile drain water volume and nitrate losses. Limiting the nitrate-N pool in the soil during the spring (when water movement beyond the root zone is common) is important to protecting water quality. Animal manure can achieve this outcome.

The authors also noted that land application of poultry manure according to recommended N rates is an environmentally preferable source of N compared to UAN (and likely other common commercial fertilizers). However, the author’s noted that at the currently accepted N application rate for both UAN and PM, “NO3-N concentrations measured in tile drainage outflow exceeded the EPA requirements for safe drinking water.”

Does This Apply to Nebraska?

Take Home Message:  Poultry manure applied at agronomic rates reduces loss of nitrate from the crop root zone as compared to commercial fertilizer and over application of manure.

The general trends observed by this Iowa study would be expected for leaching losses of nitrate-N from Nebraska corn and soybean fields. Risk of nitrate-N losses is highest prior to planting and during the early growing season. Low evapotranspiration rates, higher precipitation, and the presence of nitrate-N is a recipe for N loss in drain tiles in Iowa and leaching to groundwater in Nebraska.

Similar results are also anticipated for most animal manures. Most slurry and solid manures store much of their N in a slow release organic form and supply sufficient carbon for rapid soil microbial growth following manure application. These properties are important to a fertility product with less risk of N leaching.