In today’s highly competitive marketplace growers want flexible nutrition solutions to match the specific needs of their crops. Nutrient efficiency is key for overall profitability while optimization of N is a top priority in a bid to minimise nitrate leaching.
Nitrate leaching is a naturally occurring process and only becomes a problem when nitrate moves out of the root zone. While playing a valuable nutritional role within the root-zone, nitrates are soluble and mobile and if they enter ground water, or other fresh water bodies, become an environmental pollutant.
According to figures quoted in the Fertilizer Manual RB209, in England and Wales approximately 60% of nitrates and 25% of phosphates in our water originate from agricultural land. Elevated levels of these nutrients can harm the aquatic environment and impact on biodiversity. In addition, excessive amounts of agricultural pollutants, including nitrates and phosphates, have to be removed before water can be supplied to consumers.
New dawn in CRFs
ICL’s new E-Max coating technology heralds a new dawn in controlled release fertilizer (CRF) technology for field-grown crops by minimizing nutrient loss.
CRFs help optimise the ratio of yield to cost. Benefits include improved agronomic efficiency, reduced application costs and phytotoxicity. In addition, they unlock the potential for new improved application methods.
How does E-Max work?
A strong durable polymer membrane coating, E-Max is semipermeable and highly versatile. Its release mechanism is based on moisture and temperature - as the temperature increases so does the predictable release rate, which is independent of microbial activity. In addition, with E-Max there is no lock up effect.
Leaching reduced by up to 55%
In 2015 a trial in tomatoes at the University of Pisa, Italy, set out to quantify the reduction in N leaching in an open-field grown system. The study compared traditional N fertilizers to N-coated fertilizer (E-Max) and N-fertilizers containing N-inhibitors. The results showed that N leaching from E-Max coated N was up to 55% lower than conventional N fertilizer.
“The use of E-Max controlled release N confirmed the ability to reduce the N leaching in soil fertilization, without statistically significant differences in the yield and quality of the tomatoes,” says ICL’s Scott Garnett. “By adding 40% of the total N with an E-Max controlled release coating we have reduced nitrate leaching by 55% without impacting on yield or quality.”
In the UK, over the past two years ICL has worked with Dr Stuart Wale − of the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) − looking at E-Max applications to seed potatoes.
‘These results, which we hope to confirm in other trials, suggest that Agrocote with an E-Max coating could create improved efficiency of N release in some varieties,” says Scott. “Such an effect could mean less N might be required for seed potato production if Agrocote 43% was used as part of the N applications.”