Lower soil temps important for fertilizer application

A row of anhydrous tanks used for fertilizer (Thirteen of Clubs/Flickr)
A row of anhydrous ammonia tanks used for fertilizer (Thirteen of Clubs/Flickr)
KC McGinnis | November 19, 2015

As harvest season wraps up farmers are watching soil temperatures to determine the best time to apply fertilizers to their fields.

After a mild fall farmers have been urged to wait until soil temperatures drop and stay below 50 degrees to apply anhydrous ammonia to ensure that the ammonia doesn’t convert to nitrate too soon, posing the risk of nitrate runoff. After a successful harvest some farmers have been eager to go back into the fields to apply fertilizers, according to Radio Iowa. Current soil temperatures have been hovering around 50 degrees with a cool down expected this weekend.

The cooler soil slows down biological activity, helping nitrogen stay in the soil over winter so it can be available in the summer. Farmers should also watch to make sure the soil isn’t too dry, hard, or wet before applying anhydrous or other fertilizers.

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