Volatilization Losses From Surface Applied Nitrogen

Volatilization in numbers

Concern over volatilization losses from surface applied nitrogen are justified during periods of high temperatures, high winds and little rain in the foreseeable future. In the case of urea, hydrolysis converts the urea to ammonia, and if the urea is not incorporated, the ammonia is lost to the air. It’s a process called volatilisation and it’s like money up in smoke – from the fertiliser you’ve paid for, and the yield you’ve lost.

Conditions favouring high volatilization potential are:

  • high soil temperatures 
  • moist conditions, followed by rapid drying 
  • windy conditions 
  • high soil pH (>pH 7.5) 
  • high lime content in surface soil
  • coarse soil texture (sandy) 
  • low organic matter content 
  • high amounts of surface residue (e.g. Zero tillage) 
  • nitrogen source: urea>UAN solution > ammonium nitrate
  • Name
  • Novurea

    Urea treated with urease inhibitor

  • Novurea +S

    Urea + ureaseinhibitor with sulphur