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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 2002-2004
Early Spring 2004 Controlled Release Nitrogen Shows Promise on Onions Industry At Work Product is reportedly showing consistently higher returns on investment with onion growers in the Pacific Northwest. Fluid Journal Proper nutrition and careful soil management are key factors to success in growing onions in the Pacific Northwest. Inefficient applications of nitrogen (N) can cause a delay in bulb formation if N concentrations are too high during the early phase of plant development, especially during bulb initiation. Low N concentrations within onion's effective root zone can have serious consequence relative to disease, bulb maturity, and long-term storage. One of the more difficult challenges for growers and crop advisors is to effectively manage both irrigation water and available N fertilizers into the relatively inefficient root zone of growing onions. Poor N efficiency in irrigation water can directly impact the bottom line of onion producers by decreasing yield and long-term storage. It also can increase environmental problems relative to N leaching and potential nitrate increases in ground water. CRN Fertilizers New advances in controlled release nutrient technologies have been adapted that focus on specific needs of onion production. Controlled release nitrogen (CRN) fertilizers may very well provide new tools to help solve various nutrient and environmental concerns, and add a nice margin of profit to an onion grower's bottom line. This is especially true when combined with in- season fluid fertilizers. 1 J.R. Simplot Company has been supporting CRN studies on onions at Land Grant Universities in Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nevada, and California with the use of its registered CRN product called Polyon, a polymer-coated urea developed for use in agricultural production areas. One such study was that conducted by Dr. Daniel Drost of Utah State University, where he used CRN to compare different application rates, timing, and various combinations of urea with Polyon. Based on three growing seasons, Dr. Drost's reports that the CRN consistently produced high overall yields, as well as a high number of colossal grade bulbs. According to Drost, return on investment to the grower consistently improved, even when allowing for the price differential between CRN and traditional fertilizers. This also took into account the grower's standard practice, as well as when his total N fertilizer was reduced. Dr. Drost attributes this to better N-use efficiency. Traditional soluble N fertilizers, he notes, are very mobile. Even with split applications of N as urea ammonium nitrate (UAN), much of
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