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Nitram outperforms inhibited urea

Nitram out-performs the rest in our British maritime climate.

No grower wants to lose up to 43% of their fertiliser investment to the atmosphere, that could be the reality according to the extensive NT26 research results. Therefore it’s no surprise that reported UK statistics show AN (Nitram) is the preferred N source for British farmers and accounts for at least 50% of total UK Nitrogen use. 

The conclusion of many comparative studies, and also for many farmers, is that AN based fertilisers like Nitram are proven to be the best option for crop performance.

When correctly applied, Nitram delivers known benefits and is more reliable. It is less risky, more flexible, readily available to the plant and spreads consistently, leaving little reason to experiment with alternatives.


The chart below shows the greater the loss, the more urea is needed to match AN in Nitrogen offtake at harvest.

In terms of agronomic performance, these N losses translated into yield and protein reductions in winter wheat, barley and grass.


Did you know...

It was concluded that an extra 10-20% urea or 5-10% of inhibited urea would be needed to achieve the same yield and protein levels as realised from using AN


Although recently claimed as ‘innovations’, scientists have been researching synthetic inhibitors to reduce N losses from urea for decades and around 14,000 compounds have been screened for the purpose. The worldwide search continues with some formulations coming to the market place and others being tested on farm.

Commercially their introduction is limited with variable product performance and many farmers return to AN and specifically Nitram, as their main N source after a season of use. What remains unclear is their long-term effect on soil health.


Science has proven these losses are due to the nature of soil chemistry and biology. The Nitrogen in AN, like Nitram, is already in the plant available form, however with urea the product has to undergo a chemical change before the N it contains becomes plant available. The chemical change which urea has to go through makes it vulnerable to N loss and there are two ways to limit the losses. 


Inhibited or not, both prilled and granular urea have a lower bulk density than AN, so the premise that higher N concentrations in urea means less volume of product to store and spread is incorrect.

Product density also impacts on spreading performance. Studies comparing granular urea through popular spreaders confirmed that at greater than 30m, urea performed poorly compared to AN. The lighter density of urea means accurate particle distribution is difficult to achieve at these wider bout widths.


British made products like Nitram are manufactured at UK sites using Best Available Technology (BAT) and have a full Carbon Trust accredited footprint. In contrast, urea and inhibited urea products are produced and transported from countries as far away as the Middle East and it can often be unclear to what quality and safety standards these products conform to.

The Code of Good Agricultural Practice advises limiting Nitrogen application quantities to 100kg N/ha in any one application, taking a split ‘little and often’ approach to improve Nitrogen Fertiliser Use Efficiency (NfUE) and safeguard the environment. However, some advice for inhibited urea products is to apply all the N requirement in one dose early, simply trusting that the urease and nitrification inhibitors will work and allow a slow release of N, which is:

  • Contrary to best practice advice
  • Limits growers preference to base application/timings on crop size, growth stage and seasonal crop development
  • Removes flexible crop management

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