Slow Release Fertilizer

Herb and Aaron Steffen manage a 900-acre grain farm in southern Livingston and northern McLean counties. They hosted a demonstration and two nutrient use efficiency (NUE) trials.

The Steffens plant corn continuously on two-thirds of the acres and rotate planting of corn and soybeans on the rest of the land. Their minimum tillage practices leave at least 30% of the previous crops’ residue on the soil surface. This residue decreases soil erosion and feeds nutrients back to the soil.

They apply nitrogen after the corn plants emerge, when nutrient needs are the greatest. This minimizes nitrogen lost to air and water.


To maximize efficiency, farmers must select the right nutrient source. A controlled-release nitrogen source such as Koch Agronomic Service’s Agrotain® may offer benefits.

Agrotain® blocks the enzyme urease to prevent nitrogen loss, which begins the moment the farmer applies fertilizer or manure. Losses add up over time, decreasing profitability and increasing nitrogen’s potential to pollute. This product allows the crop to access the nitrogen it needs immediately, but controls losses in the first critical weeks after application.

This demonstration compared the effectiveness of urea verses Agrotain® at two different rates. It showed that Agrotain® increased yield by preventing some nitrogen loss.

However, harvest yield data showed that field moisture conditions more greatly influenced yield than the addition of nitrogen stabilizers.


Interested in trying one of our demonstration practices?  Contact Terry Bachtold at 815-848-4455.


Right Source

Match fertilizer type to crop needs

+ Select appropriate nutrient sources for cropping system
+ Test soils
+ Consider N, P, K secondary and micronutrient
+ Consider enhanced efficiency fertilizers
+ Plan nutrient regimen

Right Time

Make nutrients available when crops need them

+ Time the application
+ Consider controlled release technologies and inhibitors
+ Choose fertilizer product

Right Place

Keep nutrients where crops can use them

+ Choose application method
+ Incorporate fertilizer
+ Use buffer strips
+ Use conservation tillage
+ Implement cover crop systems

Right Rate

Match amount of fertilizer to crop needs

+ Test soils
+ Yield goal analysis
+ Crop removal balance
+ Nutrient management planning
+ Plant tissue analysis
+ Record keeping
+ Variable rate technology
+ Site-specific management