Keep nitrogen below ground this fall

Tiffany Dean
Product Manager, Nitrogen Stabilizers
Dow AgroSciences

Do your customers know what happens to their nitrogen once they apply it? Midwest growers are increasingly concerned about nitrogen loss due to leaching, which is the escape of nitrogen below ground. When discussing nitrogen applications with your customers, be sure they understand what happens to nitrogen when it is lost and what they can do to protect it. 

When it comes to nitrogen loss, the root zone is critically important. Only 30 percent of nitrogen loss occurs above the surface, meaning the majority of loss occurs below ground. Nitrogen in the nitrate form can be lost through leaching (carried away by rainwater and irrigation) and denitrification (converted by other microbes to nitrogen gas and lost to the air).

While some products can protect against surface volatility, they won’t slow the bacteria that converts nitrogen from its ammonium form to its nitrate form. Nitrapyrin, the active ingredient in Instinct® II and N-Serve® nitrogen stabilizers, acts to slow the conversion of ammonium nitrogen to nitrate, which prevents leaching below the surface.

In a trial on Nov. 1, 2013, in Clarion, Iowa, N-Serve® nitrogen stabilizer was applied at 32 oz./A. This photo was taken almost nine months later, on July 24, 2014, and shows the difference in quality between a field treated with N-Serve (left) and an untreated field (right).

A fall application with a nitrogen source allows more time for organic matter to break down so more nitrogen is available for plant uptake. Customers applying anhydrous ammonia this fall can use N‑Serve to protect their nitrogen applications. Instinct II is available to use with applications of urea, manure or UAN.

 Talk with your customers about protecting nitrogen this fall so it’s available in spring. For more information, visit


®Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow. Instinct II is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Do not fall-apply anhydrous ammonia south of Highway 16 in the state of Illinois. Always read and follow label directions. ©2015 Dow AgroSciences LLC