NH3 Toxicity - The Combine Forum
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post #1 of 72 (permalink) Old 06-08-2019, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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NH3 Toxicity

Seeing patterns in the wheat again this year as it relates to last fall's NH3 bands. Applied on 12" spacing at probably 4" deep last October and wheat seeded early May. Pea stubble and of course we are dry here but some moisture. I think these patterns are more visible in cereals because the seed row is continuous and any missing/stunted plants are very noticeable.



The missing seeds look like this.



My broadcast urea fields look great and my best crop ever was grown(two years ago) with broadcast urea and shallow incorporation with tillage. I'm starting to wonder if rates are getting a bit too high to concentrate them in a band. Even last year I had some corn planted same direction as urea banded a few days prior and it didn't like that at all.

I am surprised that NH3 can hang on like this even after a winter and affect a crop in such an adverse way. Having said this the field that showed these symptoms worst last year yielded the best, but mostly because it caught an extra inch of rain...ha ha

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post #2 of 72 (permalink) Old 06-08-2019, 11:57 PM
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So the seeds didnt germinate in the nh3 rows? Could it possibly be that where the nh3 went its much drier and softer therefore the seeds just didnt get proper seed/soil contact to germ?

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post #3 of 72 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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So the seeds didnt germinate in the nh3 rows? Could it possibly be that where the nh3 went its much drier and softer therefore the seeds just didnt get proper seed/soil contact to germ?
Some didn't right in the heart of the band, and those seeds would be at a shallower depth than the NH3 too. You can see a seed in second picture, kinda looks reddish.

Pretty sure it's not soil contact, we did get a 7/10" rain and these seeds are not really even sprouted. Also as band tapers off there is stunted plants and most developed plants are in between bands.

I seem to recall Bourgault promoting their MRB as a sterilizing factor for weeds, but that is a 20-24" band. No way to get a MRB down on 7.5" spacing I don't think either.

I have zero interest in top-dress, just need to find a safer way to get it on up front. Can't have this happening all the time.

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post #4 of 72 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 12:32 AM
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What was the pounds per acre rate of NH3 on this field and had you been applying a lower rate in the past with the same NH3 tool and not noticing this issue.

I've noted the opposite scenario where narrow greener strips prevailed and a more pale green colour to the plants in the area between the dark lush green bands due to a lack of nitrogen migration.
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post #5 of 72 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 12:40 AM
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So what kind of rate of NH3 are you using and/or what width of knife are you using. I do not use NH3 anymore, but did see some of this last yr around here with rates well within what I would call well within safe limits - 100-125lb actual N. It was very dry last yr here too and saw these kind of strips even though pretty sure it was not banded even at 4" in Fall before. I have used over 150lbs actual N(NH3) in years past where there was plenty of moisture and canola and never saw this. I did notice where I have some perennial sloughs(when it not dry) I had spiked last Fall - did not work anything else. We are relatively dry this Spring as well and these lower spots where you would think best crop should be that was spiked are the plainest so think that may be more your problem.
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post #6 of 72 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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What was the pounds per acre rate of NH3 on this field and had you been applying a lower rate in the past with the same NH3 tool and not noticing this issue.

I've noted the opposite scenario where narrow greener strips prevailed and a more pale green colour to the plants in the area between the dark lush green bands due to a lack of nitrogen migration.
Don't have my notes right in front of me but wheat was all around 180#-200#/acre actual, other field on same section but canola stubble is not showing symptoms as much and it would be somewhat better moisture. Saw this last year on some soybean stubble too, but spring applied in that case. Perhaps the pulse stubble is giving additional effect?

Yeah I can remember seeing the crop green over the bands and slowly spreading, probably the rise in rates changes things somewhat over the years. In the instance you speak of maybe evenly spread fertilizer would be a benefit too?

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post #7 of 72 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
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So what kind of rate of NH3 are you using and/or what width of knife are you using. I do not use NH3 anymore, but did see some of this last yr around here with rates well within what I would call well within safe limits - 100-125lb actual N. It was very dry last yr here too and saw these kind of strips even though pretty sure it was not banded even at 4" in Fall before. I have used over 150lbs actual N(NH3) in years past where there was plenty of moisture and canola and never saw this. I did notice where I have some perennial sloughs(when it not dry) I had spiked last Fall - did not work anything else. We are relatively dry this Spring as well and these lower spots where you would think best crop should be that was spiked are the plainest so think that may be more your problem.
Just a regular 3/4" Bourgault knife and high pressure Max-Quip system. Application is very even and pattern is consistent across chisel plow, but not always across field. I may need to go looking in field to see where pattern is most expressed and what a possible reason could be for it.

I know there are guys that say NH3 is death to the soil but this farm has used it almost exclusively for 50 years and it has worked great. I'm just concerned at what this might be: Salt index too high? Some other factor?
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post #8 of 72 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 01:32 AM
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just a thought, don't you have a disk drill? The reason for this, my buddy had this same pattern in his corn a couple years ago, his father-in law put NH3 and MAP down with a Concord with wide sweeps on at an angle. Long story short, they found that the depth was off because of the worked chisel verse the hard not worked. Their pattern was in line with the rear sweeps. They put a rolling basket/packer and a good harrow on, and no more pattern.
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post #9 of 72 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 01:42 AM Thread Starter
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just a thought, don't you have a disk drill? The reason for this, my buddy had this same pattern in his corn a couple years ago, his father-in law put NH3 and MAP down with a Concord with wide sweeps on at an angle. Long story short, they found that the depth was off because of the worked chisel verse the hard not worked. Their pattern was in line with the rear sweeps. They put a rolling basket/packer and a good harrow on, and no more pattern.
Pattern exists from the NH3 band not seeding depth. Seed depth will be as close to even as you will get. NH3 depth must have been pretty even too, as you can see in picture every 12" shank looks pretty similar, can't tell front from back on there. Unless I am mis-understanding your take on this?

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post #10 of 72 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 09:11 AM
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I've never applied rates near that high although the headlands will end up getting doubled up on a portion and so that zone often ends up greener/later/lodged in a decent moisture year and is not very manageable and would often be a frozen disaster if applied at that rate across a field scale on years like that in this area due to our narrow growing season window.

I can only speculate that the soil reaction to tillage and moisture content when the NH3 was applied may cause the NH3 to bind in a narrower zone and each stubble type would have varying ability to hold onto the NH3 and again just speculating based on your own findings.

Also in theory you're pea stubble would most likely already be higher in nitrogen vs the canola stubble due to the peas nodulating and drawing its nitrogen requirements from the air, so in effect more nitrogen available come spring for the crop seeded into the pea stubble.


Last edited by Northern Farmer; 06-09-2019 at 09:15 AM.
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