Farm Ireland

Thursday 23 November 2017

New nitrogen alternative

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

A new nitrogen alternative is about to be introduced to the Irish market following its launch in Britain last week.

Koch advanced nitrogen (KaN) is a urea-based fertiliser that incorporates an inhibitor designed to reduce the loss of nitrogen through ammonia gas after the product has been spread.

Urea currently makes up less than 10pc of total nitrogen sales here, with CAN accounting for around 1.4m tonnes of fertiliser sales in Ireland every year.

Despite the fact that urea is significantly cheaper per unit of nitrogen when compared to CAN, it has not been popular with farmers partly because of its losses through volatilisation. Trials have shown that up to 30pc of the nitrogen in urea can be lost within days of applying urea. It is particularly prone to volatilisation when spread on grassland.

However, an inhibitor has been developed by a company called Agrotrain that stops the naturally occurring enzyme that causes volatilisation and the release of ammonia into the atmosphere. British field trials have shown that the inhibitor reduces nitrogen losses through volatilisation from 24pc to 6pc on average.

It has taken the company three-and-a-half years to get the product registered for use in the EU, according to the managing director of Koch Fertilisers, Simon Borthwick.

Only 100t of the product has so far been shipped to Ireland by Koch fertiliser but Mr Borthwick hopes to make a big impact on the Irish market, where he believes his product will have a role to play. He declined to say exactly how much the the product will cost delivered to Irish farms.

"We've pitched our prices to be 10pc cheaper per kilogramme of nitrogen than ammonium nitrate, which is the most popular form of nitrogen used by farmers in the UK," said Mr Borthwick.

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