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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

N-Protect plus irrigation equals certainty

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If you could guarantee that in the dry Canterbury plains, rain would fall at exactly the right time and in the right amount, there’d be no need for a product like our N-Protect.

Unfortunately weather is never that predictable, especially not as the east coast of New Zealand enters an El Nino weather pattern. Forecasters are predicting the 2015/16 summer to be significantly drier than usual.

N-Protect is our new urease inhibitor; a coated-urea that slows down the conversion of nitrogen in urea to ammonia gas (volatilisation). Ammonia is then lost to the atmosphere rather than being available to the plants.

With standard urea, volatilisation can be particularly high in hot, dry and windy conditions – just what everyone expects from a Canterbury summer. N-Protect inhibits this loss and gives you more fertiliser application options through the summer period.

Pat McEvedey, his wife Lynley and their son Matt run a 300ha irrigated arable property (with some sheep) growing a wide variety of specialty vegetable crops, grains and seed. Pat says he's been a Ravensdown shareholder forever, and was delighted when we released a urease inhibitor product:

"For us, the additional cost of N-Protect over standard urea in these conditions is worth it as it gives us far more control. It allows us to work fertiliser application in with our irrigation regime so we can be sure that when water is applied, the nitrogen is still there ready to be utilised by the plants."

“When you’re growing arable crops, timing is crucial and relying on rain falling just when and as you need it is a huge risk. N-Protect gives us the ability to prepare the ground and have the fertiliser sitting there ready to go when moisture is applied, but not losing nitrogen in the interim.”

Pat does not have pivot irrigators at Southbridge because the property is spread across various blocks. So a Roto Rainer system is used, and that means a strict programme of shifting the irrigators around the farm to match the planting and growing needs of the different crops.

Using N-Protect means we can have the nitrogen in the ground, ready to go, and know it will start benefiting the plants the moment we turn the irrigation on.

“Of course it would be cheaper to use a standard urea product, but we would be more dependent on rain predictability or tied into a labour intensive irrigation system. N-Protect gives us flexibility and allows us to use our staff time more efficiently and economically. It means we can spread both our irrigation and spraying schedules out a bit, reducing workload, making it easier for staff to manage, and reducing the potential for the loss of nitrogen as ammonia to the atmosphere, all at the same time.”

It’s all about risk management in the end. The advantage of N-Protect, combined with an irrigation schedule, means much of that risk is removed. It gives more certainty that our crops will get the right balance of nutrients and water when needed.