Farmers urged to check the efficiency of protected urea fertilisers

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In light of the new rules on the use of inhibited urea, announced on 22 March, farmers are being encouraged to check levels of efficiency when purchasing urea, to maximise their investment when complying to new regulations.

New rules on the use of inhibited urea fertilisers have been confirmed by Defra, with applications to crops after 1 April 2024 needing to be inhibited if containing more than 1% urea, to slow the release of ammonia. 

Nico Papworth, commercial manager at Timac Agro UK, says this new measure will put increasing pressure on farmers to be more vigilant about the fertilisers they are using on-farm. 

Farmers restricted

“Farmers are being restricted on which products they can apply, and with non-protected forms of urea being available at much more attractive prices this season, the squeeze will certainly be felt when seeking alternative options that comply with the new regulations.”

Mr Papworth points out that practical considerations such as spreading characteristics and soil compatibility must also be considered.

The use of inhibited urea fertilisers, known as ‘Option 4’, is expected to be incorporated into the Red Tractor Farm Assurance Scheme to ensure emissions of ammonia are being reduced to meet targets set by Government, with the aim to reduce the impact from the volatilisation of urea.

No standard level of protection yet

However, Mr Papworth highlights that there has not been a standard set for the level of protection required at this stage. Unlike in some European countries, the UK operates under a ‘declaration, not regulation’ system.

“This means manufacturers are only required to declare that their nitrogen is protected but they aren’t regulated by the level of protection required,” he explains.

“This may change in time, and we can’t be sure of what the standard for protection will be, but it’s important that farmers are aware of what they’re applying to ensure they’re complying by these new rules.

“There’s a notable range of protected fertilisers available on the market, however within the Timac Agro range, we offer the only nitrogen fertiliser with molecular protection and plant stimulation, it’s not just a coating” says Mr Papworth.

For example, Sulfammo N-Process 26 supplies nitrogen, magnesium and sulphur for improved yield and quality. The N-Process technology controls the gradual release of nitrogen in response to crop demand leading to significant gains in NUE bringing it up to around 75% and higher in some cases. A substantial increase given the accepted efficiency for N fertiliser is around 50%. (RB209).

Not only does Sulfammo increase efficiency upon application, but the technology included also remains in the crop to increase the efficiency of further, conventional applications for three to four months-offering the opportunity to decrease your N requirements. 

“Given these incoming restrictions, my advice would be to invest in a fertiliser of which you can guarantee its efficiency, to ensure you’re maximising your investment for 2024 application,” Mr Papworth concludes.

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