Active STABILIZER™ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is Active STABILIZER™?
A. Active STABILIZER™ is a liquid formulation for treatment of urea and urea containing fertilizers (UAN) used to prevent nitrogen loss through ammonia (NH3) volatilization. Active STABILIZER™ contains the active ingredient NBPT which works to prevent NH3 loss by inhibiting the urease enzyme in the soil.
Q. What is NH3 volatilization?
A. NH3 is a gas. Picture anhydrous ammonia. Anydrous ammonia is 100% NH3 and without burying NH3 well beneath the soil surface, the gas escapes into the atmosphere. The urease enzyme exists in and is spread by soil microorganisms. Throughout the whole soil profile, the urease enzyme converts urea into NH3 and if urea is left near the soil surface, that converted NH3 gas escapes into the air.
Q. What environmental factor affect NH3 (ammonia) loss?
A. Many factors influence NH3 loss including, but not limited to, soil and air temperature, soil moisture, soil pH, humidity, and wind.
Q. Will soil temperatures below 50°F prevent NH3 loss?
A. A common myth suggests that NH3 cannot be lost when soil temperatures are cold. Montana University research conducted from 2008-2012 on cold and frozen soil shows NH3 losses up to 44%. Soil moisture and length of time before an incorporation event were the primary factors.
Q. What is the difference between nitrification and volatilization?
A. Volatilization is a term describing the results of NH3 gas being lost into the air. When NH3 contacts ample soil moisture ammonia (NH4+) is quickly formed. Everyone would like if the process would stop there, but nitrification is the term used to describe the process of soil bacteria converting ammonia (NH4+) to nitrate (NO3-). Nitrate (NO3-) is a negatively charged ion, just like soil, and therefor is subject to leaching. Leaching is the loss of nitrogen below the root zone. Different products on the market block nitrification to keep nitrogen in the positive form (NH4+) as long as possible.
Q. Can the use of a nitrification inhibitor affect volatilization?
A. Unfortunately, yes. Nitrification inhibitors can make volatilization losses worse. Based on research in 2016, nitrification inhibitors increased NH3 volatilization by 38%. Therefore, if using a “below ground” protectant (nitrification inhibitor), one must incorporate with tillage or irrigation immediately or also add a urease inhibitor like Active STABILIZER™ to prevent volatilization losses.
Q. There are many products containing NBPT on the market. Why is Active STABILIZER™ the product of choice?
A. The economics of applying Active STABILIZER™ favor a return on investment from the nitrogen savings alone. Competitors on the market come at a much higher cost. The nitrogen savings alone seldom result in a positive return and therefore one must also obtain additional yield advantage with that nitrogen savings to pay for the application. The cost of Active STABILIZER™ is covered with just the value of nitrogen savings and all yield improvement is 100% added to the farmer’s bottom line.
Q. How much Urea would I have to save from volatizing to pay for the treatment of Active STABILIZER™?
A. Based on urea pricing as of March 1, 2021 and MSRP, the nitrogen savings to break even is 5-6%. Compare that to competitive products being 15-20%.
Q. What percentage of UAN is urea?
A. UAN is Urea Ammonium Nitrate. 50% of the nitrogen is the form of urea, 25% ammonium, and 25% nitrate. This means that 50% of the nitrogen in UAN is subject to volatilization loss if surface applied.
Q. If I inject UAN into the soil, does that eliminate the potential for NH3 losses to the air?
A. The simple answer is no. The questions to consider is how well the UAN is covered up during the injection. One may inject 2” down but if the trench is left open, gas can easily escape upon being broken down by the urease enzyme. Picture that plume of smoke behind the anhydrous ammonia applicator. That’s being injected at a depth of 7-9 inches and visible gas escapes when the soil doesn’t “seal” adequately.