Nitrogen: Use that combines plant engineering and economic performance

DNitrogen and wheat prices have always been affected by many fluctuations. However, in recent months, nitrogen prices have steadily risen to historically highs. In less than a year, the price has almost quadrupled, rising from 180 euros / ton to 640 euros / ton. Fortunately, grain prices have also risen this year. This has somewhat mitigated the effects of soaring nitrogen prices.

Price ratio of nitrogen and wheat

The price ratio of nitrogen to wheat is used in the February White Paper each year to determine the economically optimal fertilizer (economic yield).

This ratio represents the amount of wheat in kilograms needed to pay for one unit of nitrogen. Since 2011, the value of this ratio has always fluctuated between 3.8 and 8.5. However, at current prices, this ratio is higher than ever (9.8, January 2022). Therefore, 1 kilogram of nitrogen is equivalent to 9.8 kilograms of wheat (1 kg N = 9.8 kg of wheat).

According to some scenarios

There are still many questions about grain evolution as well as nitrogen prices, but we can envision several scenarios to best predict the 2022 season and make the best choices for the future. .. Table 4 shows the results of fertilizer tests over the last five years. In this test, the economic optimum was calculated according to the price ratios of various nitrogen and wheat. Each of these reports corresponds to a different scenario.

– Report 10: Current scenario with high prices for nitrogen (640 euros / ton) and wheat (240 euros / ton).

– Report 6: Nitrogen price goes down (490 € / t) and wheat price goes up (300 € / t) scenario.

– Report 8: A scenario where the price of nitrogen remains stable (640 € / t) and the price of wheat rises (300 € / t).

– Report 12: A scenario where the price of nitrogen remains stable (640 € / t) and the price of wheat falls (200 € / t).

Maximum plant technical yields are obtained with fertilizers of 195-360 kg N / ha. From an economic point of view, optimum yields in ratios of 6 to 8 are obtained with fertilizers that vary between 120 and 240 kg N / ha.

If this ratio continues to increase, only 120-180 kg N / ha fertilizer will remain economically appropriate. However, these results vary greatly from year to year. In some tests, there is a significant difference between fertilizers that can achieve maximum phytotechnical yields and fertilizers that are economically optimal. Conversely, in some years, fertilizers that maximize phytotechnical yields also achieve economic optimum.

How much can the nitrogen dose be reduced?

In this context, the question is ultimately how many units of nitrogen dose can be reduced to ensure a certain level of yield and reduce the costs associated with fertilization. A question that is clearly difficult to give a clear opinion, as the response of crops to nitrogen varies greatly from year to year and also depends on climatic conditions. Even if the situation worsens (12 ratio scenario), 120-180 kg N / ha fertilizer can be used to reach economically optimal conditions. Therefore, more than ever this year, nitrogen fertilizers need to be used sparingly to combine plant technical and economic performance.

According to the serial white paper

February 2022

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