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Taking a Systems Approach to Making Nitrogen Recommendations

By Dale Cowan

Happy New Year. The start of new year with an opportunity for new cropping plans. One of the most challenging aspects of a crop plan is choosing the nitrogen rates to use on corn. Nitrogen management is complicated, we like to think we can make it easier. Maintaining nitrogen supply to a corn crop all season long takes some understanding of the nitrogen cycle and the various pathways of nitrogen additions and nitrogen losses.

Managing nitrogen often requires taking a systems approach.The following 20 questions on nitrogen management illustrate how many factors influence the final N rate to be applied.

1/How do you determine your total N requirements for corn (Yield goal, habit, Ontario Nitrogen Calculator, pre side-dress nitrate test (PSNT)?

2/ How many times do you apply N?

3/ Do you take N credits from previous crops? Forage legumes, red clover, soybeans, sweet corn or cover crops?

4/ Do you allow for a nitrogen credit from your starter fertilizer program?

5/ Do you allow for a nitrogen credit from fall-applied MAP (mono-ammonium phosphate) or manure?

6/ a) Do you apply N to corn stalks in the fall to break them down? b) If so, is it effective, or a waste of N?

7/ Have you modified N rates based on a nitrate soil test, plant tissue, or NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) from drone imagery?

8/ How many pounds of actual N do you apply pre-plant?

9/ What is the rate of N in your corn starter? Does it change based on side-dress or pre-plant N rates?

10/ What is your typical side-dress rate of N? Do you vary by soil type or organic matter content?

11/ With approximately 40 per cent of N taken up after VT (vegetative, full tassel) stage, have you considered late-season in-crop application of N?

12/ Do you use manure as an N source? Do you have a manure test? When do you apply, and what’s the method of application?

13/ What sources of N products do you use: UAN (urea ammonium-nitrate), urea, ammonium sulphate, , Smart N? Do you use more than one?

14/ Have you used products to prevent or limit your environmental losses?

15/ Have you used any of these products to protect nitrogen: SmartN, Anvol, Tribune or eNtrench?

16/ Have you taken a nitrate soil test in the fall, after harvest?

17/ Have you taken harvest samples to a lab and tested for nitrogen content per bushel by hybrid?

18/ Have you calculated your nitrogen use efficiency? N removed over total N available across the field?

19/ Are you doing variable-rate N applications using your captured, multiple-year site-specific data?

20/ Have you heard of Adapt N?

Considering these factors fits well in a 4 R Nutrient Management Strategy by covering Source, Rate, Timing and Placemen of nitrogen.The goal is to reduce the size of your environmental foot print optimize harvested yield and maximize nutrient use efficiency.


Our Crop Specialists are well versed in evaluating your Nitrogen program.Having a review of your nitrogen management program is time well spent 


Starting a Successful Plant Health Program

By Andre Coutinho

One of the wider groups of pests that can cause plant diseases, are fungi or fungal-like organisms. They are usually a marginal concern when planning your crop spray programs. Many reasons contribute to this fact. Not always visible (usually when you see them it’s too late!), fungi disease symptoms only show when the infection is already advanced in the plant. And it is fair to believe that some diseases are not easily seen throughout the whole season. The fact is that fungi represent a group of more than 8,000 species and their control should be a priority when planning your spray application programs.

This year, Southwestern Ontario was hit with some fungal diseases like Tar Spot in corn. The benefits of a fungicide application were seen very clearly, with some fields showing up to 40 bushels differences between treated and untreated strips.

This opens the discussion about the adoption of fungicide programs and how fungicides act on the crop. Fungicides are pesticides that can be classified according to:

Mobility in the plant: contact fungicides act like barriers on the plant surface. Systemic fungicides are absorbed and move in the plant being able to protect new tissues and new growth.

Preventive vs. Curative: preventive act by stopping the fungus from attacking the plant when the gets in contact with it. Curatives can affect the fungus after they infect the plant and can stop the disease from developing.

Mode of action: this is how the fungicide affects the fungus. It can be a process inhibitor or damage the cell membrane, for example. The modes of action are also represented by numbers and a fungicide can have different modes of action incorporated in it. The mode of action can also be broken down into Group, Chemical Group and Common Name.

As an example, let’s compare two well-known fungicides for cereals: Headline and Stratego Pro.

Headline is a fungicide from group 11 (Pyraclostrobin). This group is classified as Quinone outside inhibitors (QoIs) which limits fungi energy production to prevent spores from germinating on the leaf surface. They have limited of no curative action.

StrategoPro incorporates group 11 (Trifloxystrobin) and group 3 (Prothioconazole). Group 3 are Demethylation inhibitors (DMIs) that disrupt the membrane of the cells after the spore germinates. Different from Group 11, Group 3 fungicides can be curative and preventive.

By combining different modes of action, you can enhance effectiveness and avoid fungicide resistance.

Biofungicides are formulations with living organisms that can act to control fungal organisms in plants and soil. These technologies grow at a steady pace in agriculture and can represent an alternative or complement to a chemical program. One good example is products based on strains of Trichoderma harzianum, which can parasitize Rhizoctonia and other species.

When deciding about which fungicide program you adopt you should take into consideration the different modes of action of each product, the fungal diseases present in your area and, lastly, the cost-benefit of each program. Usually, fungicide application offers the plants the opportunity to express their yield potential better than non-treated plants. Most of the time, additional yield capture gains will be more than enough to pay for the spray program. A fungicide program can also impact positively on the grain quality when selling your crop (i.e. discounts on DON levels).

Have this conversation with your Crop Specialist at AGRIS Cooperatives. They will help you understand your options and decide about the best program to adopt.

To know more:


Maximizing Nitrogen Efficiency: The Role of Nitrogen Stabilizers in Agriculture

By Cory Cowan

Nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth and development, playing an important role in the production of proteins, enzymes, and chlorophyll. Managing nitrogen on the other hand can be a challenging task. Nitrogen is susceptible to quite a few environmental factors that can contribute to its loss through situations like leaching, volatilization, and denitrification. To address these challenges and enhance nitrogen use efficiency on their farms, farmers use nitrogen stabilizers as a valuable tool in their 4R nutrient management practices.

Understanding Nitrogen Stabilizers:

Nitrogen stabilizers slow down the processes that lead to nitrogen loss, ensuring that more of the applied nitrogen remains in the root zone for plant uptake.

Current Types of Nitrogen Stabilizers:

  1. Urease Inhibitors:
    • Urease is an enzyme responsible for converting urea to ammonia, which is susceptible to volatilization losses. Urease inhibitors, such as NBPT (N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide) can be found in products like Koch Agronomic Services Anvol, which slows the activity of urease, reducing the risk of ammonia volatilization.
  2. Nitrification Inhibitors:
    • Nitrification is the conversion of ammonium into nitrate, which is prone to leaching as well denitrification. Nitrification inhibitors, such as DCD (dicyandiamide) slow down the nitrification process, keeping more nitrogen in the ammonium form, which is less mobile and more readily available to plants. Tribune from Koch Agronomic Services is a great product that has both NBPT and DCD in order to protect against both volatilization losses and denitrification.

Benefits That Come with Using Nitrogen Stabilizers:

  1. Reduced Nitrogen Loss:
    • Nitrogen stabilizers help to prevent nitrogen from being lost to the atmosphere as ammonia through volatilization or as nitrous oxide through denitrification, which in turn reducing the environmental impact of our nitrogen applications.
  2. Enhanced Nutrient Use Efficiency:
    • By utilizing these products to minimizing nitrogen loss, stabilizers contribute to improved nutrient use efficiency, ensuring that a higher percentage of applied nitrogen is consumed by the crop for optimal growth and yield.
  3. Consistent Crop Performance:
    • Nitrogen stabilizers contribute to a more consistent and uniform crop by providing a steady and reliable source of nitrogen throughout the growing season.
  4. Environmental Sustainability:
    • Using nitrogen stabilizers aligns with our approach to 4R stewardship sustainable practices by reducing the environmental loss associated with nitrogen applications. It helps mitigate not only water pollution but also greenhouse gas emissions associated with these forms of nitrogen loss.

Application Timing:

    • Proper timing and use of nitrogen stabilizers are crucial for maximizing their effectiveness. Stabilizers are typically applied along with nitrogen fertilizers during the broadcasting, planting or side-dressing stages. For example, if you are planning to broadcast Urea on your standing wheat crop in the spring the use of a product like Anvol from Koch Agronomic Services will not only help the environment by preventing volatilization losses but also protect your investment in the fertilizer itself by protecting and keeping the nitrogen on your farm.


Nitrogen stabilizers have become amazing tools for farmers to optimize their nitrogen use efficiency, enhance their crop yields, and minimize environmental impact across their acres. As research and technology advance, it is likely that new formulations and innovations in nitrogen stabilizers will continue to emerge, further improving their efficacy and benefits for the agricultural industry. In order to stay up to date on these products as well the ever-changing new innovations and technologies the industry has to offer your trusted AGRIS Crop Sales Specialist is here for you to utilize these as well other products to achieve the best return on your investment.

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