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Newsletter for Improving NH3 Efficiency

Believe it or not…. NPR reports…The most significant technical development of the 20th century is Anhydrous Ammonia.  Three Nobel Prizes have been awarded for process and use of Anhydrous Ammonia.   NH3 actually reduces soil erosion by reducing arable acres.  Twice as much land would need to be cultivated to supply food to our hungry world. The worldwide “Green Revolution” fathered by Norman Borlaug would have not been possible without NH3.  109 million metric tons of NH3 is produced annually worldwide.  96 million metric tons (20 billion dollars) of NH3 goes to agricultural fertilizer annually.  Only 50% of the nitrogen applied to US soils is ever used by the growing crop.   Presently 23 billion dollars of nitrate has either been lost or is stored and moving below the crop root zone in the United States.  Over 1 million Californians must drink or are exposed to nitrate contaminated water. Nitrogen efficiency can be improved at least 30% to 50% using timing, No-till soil placement, dual placement and application accuracy.  Improved nitrogen use with No-tillage placement of nutrients will have the greatest economic improvement for agricultural crop production over the next ten years.  Millions of lives have been saved or improved around the world due to the availability of low cost Anhydrous Ammonia. 

December 1, 02, 4501 East Trent Ave.., Spokane, Washington, 99202, www.exactrix.com, Issue XX
Guy Swanson, Author. Peer reviewed by the USDA-ARS, UNL, and producers like you.

In This Issue: Crop Production

NH3 performance improved with dual placement.
Band spacing improves corn yields.
Does Corn really need 1.1 lbs of N per bushel produced?                          

Consistent production of irrigated corn above 300 bushels/acre.
How to take No-till corn to the next level of production.
Will Wheat fit into your No-till corn rotation?
Soybean yield maps are critical to VR-N.
Soil Physics, Out of sight and out of mind.
Coefficient of Variation…. better understood.
Fertilizer Industry and producers face 2009 deadline.


Bottom Outlet Valves vs. Top Outlet Valves.                            




Improvements added to Exactrix systems.
Delta P, Phase Shifter field observations.
NH3 high-pressure injection with the Farmland E-sweep.
Greg Kreikemeir sets two world records for NH3 application.
June 2003 issue of Exactrix Times, Topics. 

NH3 Performance Improved with Dual Placement.

NH3 is commonly placed as a single product in the fall throughout the Corn Belt. Sometimes N-serve is added to the NH3 tanks to help stabilize the 30” NH3 band.  P and K is top dressed or placed in strip till normally as a separate operation. 

True No-till corn is seldom produced since shanks are the most common approach to placement of nutrients. In fact shank application of NH3 is not used in certain parts of Nebraska due to soil erosion and loss of farm program payments.  Seedbed quality is also a major problem with shank application of NH3.  

Even with N-serve in the band the nitrogen becomes very inefficient with fall application of NH3. 

The two major management factors that limit corn yields are 1. Moisture accumulating in the ground where it falls and 2. Nitrogen Timing with excellent port-to-port delivery accuracy or low CV application prior to 8 leaf corn. 

For top yields NH3 should never be placed as a single product in the fall or spring.  Scientists, producers, and researchers confirm that yields and nitrogen efficiency can be enhanced with dual placement.  Iowa State, NDSU and UNL all confirm higher corn yields with dual placement of NPK&S.  The PPI also confirms dual placement is better. 

Dual placement of plant nutrients has been common since 1968 in winter wheat production of the PNW.  Now corn producers are beginning to realize the advantages.  In fact NH3 is seldom placed as a single product wherever you find production levels between 35 to 165 bushels per acre of spring or winter wheat.  Why? Efficient use of the nutrients produces higher yields. Formulation of Tri-Ammonium Phosphate Sulfate in a common band is critical to high yields and increased nitrogen use efficiency.

With nutrient regulation on the horizon efficient use of corn nutrients will be required to compete.  So corn producers need a fertilizer technology machinery and cultural shift to meet the federal demands.  This includes mapping or location of the placed nutrients. Non-mobile P and K will need to be placed in a geometric relation to the corn rows.  Thus indexing, ridge-till and auto steering tractors improve the targeted bands.  

Improved use of nitrogen will be required of all corn producers using timing and dual placement.  Thus the use of lime will be reduced since less soil acidifying nutrients are required to raise more corn. 

Even and uniform application of NH3 is also the major key in bumping yields.  Many Exactrix owners utilize even and uniform application of non-mobile nutrients.  Uniform, low CV application of all nutrients means better soil sampling.  Residual soil nitrogen becomes more uniformly distributed in the soil root zone.  Higher yields often result in the 2nd and 3rd year after the initial uniform Exactrix application.   







Remember legumes such as soybean, peas, and alfalfa make a more uniform distribution of organic nitrogen.  In the western United States the mechanical summer-fallow systems also mineralize organic matter to make a more uniform application or organic nitrogen. 90% of nitrogen use efficiency is related to the soil OM so no-tillage production is encouraged.  Alfalfa is the best choice in producing organic nitrogen.  “The Queen of Forage”, Alfalfa utilized in the rotation will provide new soil equilibrium of nutrients, OM and soil life. Synthetic nitrogen is not required if hybrid corn or wheat is raised on alfalfa ground. Mapping of soybean and pea yields is critical to make VR-N work. 

Rotational Band Loading is accomplished with No-tillage.  Ridge tillers and PNW No-till farmers were the first to see this soil chemical phenomenon.  Placed nutrient bands are left undisturbed for following crops to access the residual bands.  No-tillage is required to develop Rotational Band Loading.  Tillage disturbs the rotational bands and reduces the geometric and chemical availability of the placed nutrients. 

Plan of Action: Corn producers must make every effort to no-tillage place in the soil corn nutrients in a dual band application.  Two application timing periods are always better in producing top yields. All nitrogen-using crops need a balanced nutrient band. Nitrogen should be dual P and S applied at lower rates with side-dressing or pre-plant indexed in the spring.  Recommended dual placement materials are NH3 with 10-34-0 and/or Thio-Sul®.   Liquid P and S allow a much more uniform application (1% CV, Delta P) with Exactrix NH3. Delta P manifolds can be observed at www.exactrix.com/DeltaP.htm.  

 NH3 tool bars should be set up as double shooters.  N-serve can be replaced with Thio-Sul® to help stabilize the band with a sulfur requirement (Jay Goos, NDSU). The best side-dressing tool bars need liquid systems as well as an Exactrix uniform application system with low CV.  Non-mobile nutrients P and K (11-52-0 and 0-0-60) should be banded in the fall in an index directly under the corn row.  Deep placement of P and K to 15” with a ripper (compaction issue) can be used every 6 years. Nitrogen should not be fall applied.  Use of nitrogen can be drastically reduced with uniform even application and timing.  Use of lime can also be reduced with timing of nitrogen and a balanced application of nutrients. 

Band Spacing Improves Corn Yields. 

Typical band spacing for NH3 application is 30”.  This is proving to be a limiting factor in corn production.  High yield corn producers such as Frances Childs use narrow 10” NH3 band spacing. Ontario producers use narrow NH3 band spacing and immediately plant corn after application in the spring.  The dilute NH3 bands (20” or less at 180 lbs N/A as NH3) does not burn corn. The bands are placed at least 4” deep.  High Ph or sandy soils may still have a problem requiring 10” band spacing.  Many Nebraska producers use 15” band spacing in ridge till with single disc openers applying on the side of the ridges.  Most of the 15” band spacing machines also dual apply non-mobile phosphate 10-34-0, Thio-Sul® and micronutrients. 

Multiple bands at 7.5” and 10” improve the NPKS efficiency in corn production.  But the question remains how to do it.  Now it appears the solution is at hand.  The Deere 1850, 1860 and 1890, No-tillage airseeders offer double utilization of a tool that is common in the soybean area.  Exactrix has developed an NH3 injection tool for the airseeder.  Now producers can use the Deere air delivery system to meter NH3 and dry fertilizer formulations on 7.5” and 10” band spacing.  Spring applied placed nutrients allow corn to feed on placed nutrients at 4 locations rather than one. 


Exactrix Injection Wing Technology allows fertilization and seeding of crops.
Go to www.exactrix.com/dewi.htm to review the new method announced at Husker Harvest Days and The Farm Progress Show, September 2003. Exactrix Wing Technology --- a unique development for corn, soy beans and wheat.

The advantage of the Deere 1850, 1860, and 1890 airseeders is that the machine makes a no-till application of the nutrients.  Thus soil and moisture are conserved to help produce top yields. The seedbed quality is not compromised using the low disturbance Deere single disc openers set at the 2” depth.  Remember Exactrix NH3 is burned into the soil another 2” in depth.   

The Deere single disc opener can also be set at 3.5” depth if the producer feels the spring soil conditions merit NH3 at 5.5-inch depth.   The horsepower requirement is lowered with single disc openers. The ground speed can be increased to 10 mph.  It is very common to pull a commodity cart and an ammonia tank in the Northern Great Plains and Canada. 

The airseeder’s dry fertilizer delivery system also allows producers to place low cost 13-33-0-15S(Cargill), 16-20-0-14S(Agrium, Simplot) as homogenous materials. 11-52-0, 21-0-0-24S and 0-0-60 can be blended in combination with NH3. 

 The bands of dry fertilizer combined with NH3 in the opener improves the uptake of nitrogen with the sulfate materials. The on-the-go fertilizer blend formulates Tri Ammonium Phosphate Sulfate, the most available form of phosphate.  Ammonium Sulfate like Thio-Sul® improves nitrogen use in the NH3 band. 

Plan of Action:
Convert your Deere 1850,1860 or 1890 airseeder to apply NH3 and dry fertilizer. You can now order a new Deere 1890 CCS and add a Valmar or Gandy air delivery system. A Deere 1690 CCS can also be used for 15” band centers. The same machine can be used to seed soybeans with the new Deere Low CV Central Commodity Metering System.  Order the firming wheel injector foot from Exactrix to place NH3 with the dry materials.  The seeding aspect of the airseeder is not affected.  Multiple bands of corn nutrients allow higher yields.  The planter can run right behind the 15 inch or less band spacing airseeder.  High Ph and sandy soils
                                                          require 10 inch and 7.5 inch band spacing. 


Dual application using the Deere 1690 results in top corn yields.

Does Corn really need 1.1lbs. of N per bushel produced?

The amount of soil nitrogen required to produce 1 bushel of corn is 1.1 to 1.2 pounds per bushel.  This is now being questioned.  The algorithm may have been based on non-uniform application of nitrogen and non-uniform residual nitrogen.  Exactrix owners are reporting much lower N usage to produce top yields.  The 3rd year of Exactrix NH3 application really tells the story in the corn soybean rotation.  Residual N is now more uniform in the 3rd year. Soybeans become suppliers of soil nitrate rather harvesters of soil nitrate. 

Jason Foltz of Shelbyville, IN proved this in 2001. Four rates of NH3 were applied on soybean ground, 100, 150, 200 and 250 pounds of N/A. The Exactrix 2KD “Weigh Master” applies NH3 within 1% port-to-port accuracy. To review the 2KD go to www.exactrix.com/2KD.htm.  All plots yielded 187 bushels per acre.  The soybean credit was 50 lbs. N/A. Therefore 150 lbs. of total soil N raised 187 bushel per acre of corn.  This is .8 pounds of N per bushel.  Since there was no testing below the lowest rate of 100 pounds of N applied it can be assumed that .7 to .8 pounds of N per bushel is all that is required to raise corn.  The plot was pre-plant applied in the spring 30 days prior to planting www.exactrix.com/Foltz.htm.  Timing of nitrogen also improves efficiency.  

Researchers and scientists at UNL and Iowa State are also beginning to question the algorithm for corn.  This may now explain why VR-N is not always consistent.  The nitrogen recommendation of 1.1 pound per acre is too high when uniform, even application occurs. 

Producers in Nebraska are reaching new production levels.  Exactrix producers in their 2nd and 3rd year of Exactrix uniform nitrogen application are raising yields 30 bushels per acre above their previous highest irrigated yields.  This is further explained by the fact that soil residual nitrogen is more uniformly distributed.   

Plan of Action: Exactrix owners should be establishing randomized and replicated nitrogen use plots in combination with their local NRCS office or county agent.  Corn may only require .7 to .8 pounds of nitrogen if the NH3 application is uniform with Exactrix. 

Consistent production of irrigated corn above 300 bushels per acre.

Nebraska producers are headed for 300 bushels per acre.  UNL has a stated goal of 300 bushels per acre by 2005. A few Exactrix owners are coming very close in 2002.
What are the critical steps to reach this average?

  1. Soybean rotation.

  2. No-till/ ridge till practices allowing infiltration of moisture.

  3. No or low soil compaction.

  4. Deep placed P and K in an index combined with ripping as needed.

  5. Veris mapped to determine problem areas.

  6. VR site specific application of Nitrogen with uniform low CV Exactrix application technology.  Dual placement of P, S and ZN using 10-34-0 in combination with the NH3 application.

  7. Modern center pivots with soil moisture sensing probes.

  8. Correct selection of the Hybrid.

How to take No-till corn to the next level of production?

No-till corn production has the high yield potential and will produce the most consistent yields with correct nitrogen placement and timing.  How to manage nitrogen in no-till corn has been difficult.  Initially no-tillers were using expensive solution 28 and top dressing and surface band applying the material.  Solution 28 and 32 are not the preferred plant food materials for corn.  Young corn plants prefer ammonic state NH3 in the first 3 weeks after planting.  NH3 is more stable in the soil than solution 28.   

After the first 3 weeks corn can utilize both nitrate and ammonic forms of nitrogen.  So conversion of NH4 to nitrate forms of nitrogen is ideal for corn after the first 3 weeks.  Corn plants do best with a mixture of nitrate and ammonic forms of nitrogen from 3 weeks to tassle.  This may explain why yield depressions can occur with N-serve side dress and spring preplant applied. 


No-till soils are better drained.  No plow pan exists to prevent the moisture from moving down in the soil profile.  The soil develops macro pores and earthworm channels that allow rain to move into the soil at a much faster rate.  This means that the nitrate form of nitrogen will follow the wetting front.   


No-till farmers in Indiana have moved to a better approach in raising no-till corn.  The NH3 is banded at low rates (100 lbs. N/A) immediately after planting.  The producers use high port-to-port accuracy Exactrix with single disc openers to band NH3 at low rates in a side dress application.  A very high percentage of Indiana no-till producers side dress.  Exactrix systems are preferred due to the band accuracy or even application.  Single disc openers with closing wheels can place the nutrients shallower than knife type openers.  Exactrix is also evaluating the E-sweep opener which places the NH3 quite shallow in side dress.  Some weed control also results from this surface tillage application keeping residue on top. 

NH3 efficiency can be improved with an old material.  NDSU has proven that Thio-Sul® 12-0-0-26S injected with the NH3 will improve nitrogen use by the crop as good or better than N-serve.  Most No-till corn producers will eventually discover that their corn has a need for sulfur since the coal-fired plants are now required to take sulfur out of the stacks.  Thio-Sul® can be dual injected in the NH3 band at approximately a 10% of the NH3 flow.  This is a common practice in fall application of NH3 in the PNW. Thio-Sul® cost is also much lower than N-serve at the recommended rate. Thio-Sul® cost is normally $3.00 per acre.  It makes more sense to use a plant nutrient than a soil fumigant to stabilize the NH3 band. 

Plan of Action: Side dress and spring pre plant tool bars should be equipped with a second liquid delivery system.  NH3 should never be placed alone.  Thio-Sul® can increase the nitrogen availability to the crop in well-drained No-till soils.  Thio-Sul® is considered safer than N-serve.  Thio-Sul® is also easier on equipment than N-serve.  A second liquid delivery system also allows the use of micronutrients and 10-34-0.  N-serve may be eventually phased out of agriculture.  Low margins and questionable performance are just some of reasons N-serve may not pass the next test of the Thio-Sul® challenge. 

Will No-till wheat fit your corn rotation?

Yes, especially if you are a seed corn producer.  You can Relay Intercrop winter wheat into the corn stover between the corn rows.  Net returns indicate $150 of additional income over a typical corn soybean rotation over two years. 


For relay crop information go to www.exactrix.com/RI.htm.   This may be the best return in the industry for seed corn producers.  Very little equipment is required especially for ridge till seed corn producers that already have the equipment to make it work.  The winter wheat improves the organic matter and harvests nitrate too much deeper soil depths than irrigated corn. 

Plan of Action:  Call Exactrix for technical help in developing a Relay Intercrop rotation.  This is a great opportunity to raise more for less.  Risk is low and returns are high. Four classes of winter wheat, winter barley, winter triticale, winter peas, sorghum, alfalfa and sunflowers are few of the crops that show great promise in rotation with seed corn.  

Are Soybean yield maps critical for VR-N?

Yes they are since soybeans make a uniform distribution of soil N for the following corn crop.  If soybean yields are varying more than 20% in the field the prescription must be adjusted.  Soybean yield maps are also a good indicator of soil type.  Certain soil active soybean herbicides react differently on certain soil types.  Soybean damage due to soil type change is an indicator of changing CEC and OM. 

Plan of Action: VR-N works best with uniform nitrogen application with CV’s well below 5% in the 9% CV Veris management zone.  Start your VR-N program with timing and a uniform Exactrix application.  Study the soybean yield maps to help make good decisions.  The Veris management zone philosophy makes the most sense in procuring better VR-N returns.  Residual over-applied nitrogen from corn production makes soybeans lazy in the following year. 

Soil Physics…..”Out of sight and out of mind”

Tillage and high axle load traffic creates compaction.  Tillage compaction is normally related to the depth of the tillage implement especially in wet conditions.  Cattle grazing on residue will create surface compaction.  High axle loads above 2.5 tons per axle or greater than 8 psi (square inches of flat plate contact divided by weight) create deep compaction to 15”.  Many fields throughout the Corn Belt show compaction with infrared photos of the crop. 

Compaction is the major reason belted tractors are in production.  Some of the worst compaction occurs with wheel type combines in a wet harvest condition. Deere, CNH and Caterpillar have a major solution to the problem.  If you are a no-till producer you need to start with the combine and bank-out wagon first in adapting to the track technology.   

The tractor upgrade normally comes first in tillage systems.  No-till producers seldom need the extra traction of a belted tractor and tend to use smaller tractors.  Hillside producers of the PNW have used track type tractors since the 30’s to reduce compaction for pea production.  Dry peas are especially sensitive to tillage and traffic compaction.  Slope stability and delivering power to the ground is also another major reason for belted and track type tractors. 

Plan of Action: Deep ripping of dry soils is important.   The key words are deep rip in a dry soil condition…. To the level of the traffic compaction.  Center pivot ridge till producers do not rip the controlled traffic areas.  Deep ripping is an ideal opportunity to deep place P and K on eroded soils or to produce higher yields under center pivots.   Dry fertilizer delivery systems can be installed on ripping implements.  Ripping is normally required every six years.  Use infrared photography and soil probes to measure and monitor soil compaction. 

Coefficient of Variation …Better Understood by the producer and Exactrix.

Uniform application of nitrogen benefits every producer.  The yield increases are normally in the 7% to 10% range depending on rotation.  The overall impact of reduced use of N is $20 to $30 per acre.  In fact Exactrix will give you an agronomic guarantee that the Exactrix system will produce these returns in the Corn Belt.  You can expect even higher returns with planter applied NH3 and side dressing NH3 under No-till using single disc openers and dual placement. 

Exactrix did not have this level of confidence 3 years ago.  Today producers call and tell us their amazing results with uniform application of Nitrogen.  In fact we are certain that the algorithm for corn nitrogen will be rewritten for corn using Exactrix research equipment.  This level of confidence is also applied to wheat production.  The Coefficient of Variation is so high with airseeder gas delivery NH3 systems that every 2nd tank of NH3 is wasted into the environment.  

Plan of Action: Exactrix owners can receive $1,000 from Exactrix for providing results from test plots randomized and replicated to their University standards.  Weigh wagons are normally required to confirm nitrogen use efficiency.   All producers reporting to date are indicating a positive yield response.  Also please note that the second year produces the most dramatic results in corn on corn rotations.  This is due to the uniform distribution of residual soil nitrogen from the previous corn crop. 

Fertilizer industry and producers face 2009 EPA nutrient regulation deadline.

The fertilizer industry is in decline and will continue to decline. In the year 2000 the use of nitrogen based fertilizers declined in the United States by 5%.  88% of the anhydrous ammonia consumed in the United States is used by the agricultural fertilizer industry.  Agriculture consumed 18 million tons of NH3 of 20.5 million tons totally consumed by the US.  At  $300 per ton, 1.321 Billion dollars of 82.2% nitrogen was directly applied to crops primarily to corn, wheat and cotton in 2000.   

The direct application of NH3 represents 28.5% of the total nitrogen market. Direct application of NH3 represents the largest segment of the nitrogen market.  The decline in total consumption was primarily due to the significant jump in natural gas and electricity prices.  Producers did switch to less corn and wheat.  In fact winter wheat acres were at the lowest level since 1917 in 2001. Roundup ready soybeans can actually be a more profitable crop when NH3 prices reach $400 per ton.  However, NH3 is still a bargain all the way to $600 per ton.   

Ammonia prices will continue to move upward as more ammonia is used in SCR or Selective Catalytic Reaction to harvest CO2 from the stacks of the coal fired power plants.  Producers can anticipate NH3 to be up 25% by the spring of 2003.  The Clean Air Act will continue to drive NH3 prices higher as environmental consumption in the power industry will increase the annual US consumption of NH3 to 100 million metric tons by 2005.  This is a five-fold increase over present US consumption.  Fertilizer consumption of NH3 will be become 18% of the total US consumption.   

While the fertilizer industry is in decline Anhydrous Ammonia has become a growth industry and will be primarily exported by Venezuela to US gulf ports.  Grain producers can anticipate considerable price fluctuation as a result of power industry demand. 

But the real question with NH3 is not the cost of the material and the fluctuating price.  The question to be answered is: How efficient did producers use the material?  Would you believe that the growing crop used only 50% of the NH3 applied? That is correct.  In other words if a corn producer fall applied 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre as NH3 only100 pounds of nitrogen per acre was utilized by the growing crop.    

The lost 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre was released into the environment.  Remember the soil is a lousy place to store nitrogen. Residual NH3 was lost below the root zone or the soybeans became lazy in producing soil nitrogen. The soybean plant would rather feed on soil nitrogen than produce it.

 The corn producer lost $23.00 per acre by fall applying 200 lbs. N/A in year 2000 using gas type NH3 application systems. That is correct since NH3 was priced at 23 cents per pound of N or $380 per ton. Rather than getting free nitrogen from the soybean, the non-uniform application of NH3 and the poor timing of the fall NH3 application produced 50% nitrogen use efficiency.  

Corn producers often comment that they would rather over-apply nitrogen by 25% to compensate for the loss of nitrogen over the winter.  In fact producers will often over-apply NH3 and not use N-serve.  This is because the N-serve is not always consistent with NH3 due to the high port-to-port application variance of pressure reducing gas type NH3 systems.  It may be cheaper to apply more nitrogen than to make an attempt to stabilize the nitrogen or time the application to spring pre-plant or side dress. 

No wonder society is concerned about the rivers, streams and drinking water that agriculture is polluting.  About 55% of the nitrates found in the rivers, and drinking water is coming from agricultural fertilizer.  If you live around the Gulf of Mexico you are well aware of the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia issue.  Agricultural nutrients are starving the ocean of oxygen creating a collapse of the food chain for the fisheries. 

The European Union has already taken drastic steps in reducing nitrogen fertilizer use.  About 1992 the use of nitrogen dropped 20% from 1986.  The EU reduced the use of nitrogen by reducing the prices paid to farmers for commodities.  

Producers were applying about twice as much nitrogen to wheat as US producers apply per bushel produced.  Multiple applications of mobile 28% solution fertilizers were being used to boost yields and improve returns based on a false market commodity price for wheat. The EU also set ground water standards of no more than 11 PPM of nitrate-N (50 mg Nitrate-N/Liter). 

 Now US producers face a similar program with a similar standard of 10-PPM nitrate-N in the ground water.  The deadline of 2009 has been set.  The EPA has directed states to reduce the Total Maximum Dailey Load, TMDL, to levels acceptable to improve the water supply and the quality of rivers and streams.  The program can expand in several directions, all of which involve the agricultural producer. 

On October 11, 2000 Federal and State officials agreed on a $1 billion per year plan to revive as much as 30% of the hypoxic zone of the Gulf of Mexico by 2015.  Under the plan, more money would go to programs that reduce excess nutrients in streams and rivers feeding into the Mississippi, which drains 40% of the continental United States. 

These new programs:

  1. Would cut fertilizer usage on farms.

  2. Establish wetlands and buffer strips near streams to soak up excess nitrogen.

  3. Reduce discharges of sewage treatment plants.

  4. Track the flow of nitrogen by scientific means. 

The Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean coastlines were also outlined in this new program.

  1. The goal would be to reduce by 25% the already damaged coastal areas.

  2. To make sure that no new areas are damaged.

  3. Provide better information on the potential damage to coastal areas from excess nutrients. 

Furthermore the USDA Economic Research Service analyzed the environment and economic impacts of the nutrient regulation strategy.   A goal of 10% reduction of nitrogen release into the environment was set.  The result of the study indicates

  1.  A “ green payment” would be made to producers to compensate for lower use of fertilizer.  Theoretically this would result in lower crop yields and lower returns to the producer.

  2. Regulations to reduce per acre use of nitrogen.

  3. A tax on nitrogen fertilizer.  Maybe NH3 will cost $600 per ton.

  4. Buffer strips and other land retirement to intercept field runoff and reduce nitrogen fertilizer use. 

Of the four above proposals the “green payments” to producers for reducing nitrogen use and conserving soil was considered the most likely scenario. 

If the State of Iowa is an indicator of reduced use of nitrogen it would appear that the nitrogen use trend is up.  The future trend continues up based on fall 2002 surveys rather than being reduced.  The year 2000 report from Iowa State Department of Natural Resources indicates nitrogen is not being reduced.   

Several scientists and researchers confirm lower rates of N will produce better economic returns with timing and port-to-port accuracy of the nitrogen application.  The fertilizer industry is not promoting the use of less nitrogen by using timing and application accuracy.   

Some of the NH3 timing problems are related to the declining fertilizer industry NH3 storage capacity, the reduced cash flow since less NH3 is required, and the fact that the nitrogen cash flow is developed 6 to 8 months later in the production year.    

Thus the entire agriculture industry remains in turmoil over the rub…”producers must use less nitrogen to produce higher yields”.  The fertilizer dealers and manufacturers of NH3 want the producers to use more nitrogen. Yet the largest cooperative supplier of NH3, Farmland, files a $2.7 billion bankruptcy in June 2002 due to poor management in a mature and declining fertilizer industry.

 In fact “ Farmland’s cash shortage was brought on largely by abysmal sales of fertilizer in the spring of 2002”, Kansas City Star, 6/01/02.  Producers can expect fertilizer dealers to give a negative response to nitrogen reduction and spring application of NH3 for the rest of the decade.  Smart producers will continue to use spring-applied nitrogen and drive down their cost of production using the Exactrix liquid NH3 injection system. 

Plan of Action: Exactrix owners can prove their advanced stewardship by implementing test plots comparing nitrogen use efficiency.   It simply does not take as much nitrogen to raise wheat, corn, and cotton if the application of NH3 is timely and uniform.  Taxing NH3 and regulating the use of material are viable alternatives.  However, there is nothing better than a producer driven cause to reduce NH3 use and comply with the economic returns of crop production.  Yields do not need to be compromised and can be increased with equipment and cultural change.  It would be apparent to the author that the fertilizer industry will not lead in this change. 


Bottom Outlet Valves vs. Top Outlet Valves.

Bottom outlet valves are commonly used when NH3 flows exceed 36 gallons per minute.  Top outlet valves are used when NH3 flows are below 40 gallons per minute using twin tanks.  Several producers and fertilizer dealers have switched to bottom outlet valve tank arrangements because the NH3 flow can exceed 40 gallons per minute.  Bottom outlet valves are considered safer than top outlet valves since they have a remote shutdown feature included in the bottom outlet valve arrangement. 

Why are NH3 flows going above 40 gpm(12,500 pounds NH3 per hour)?  The tool bars are wider and applying NH3 at much higher ground speeds.  Producers want to get the application of NH3 completed early using spring timing. So ground speed and machine width are utilized at high NH3 flows. Some producers exceed 65 gpm or 20,000 pounds NH3 per hour with wide tool bars set up with single disc openers.  VR-N may require higher flow rates than what the top outlet valves can deliver at 40 gpm.  More NH3 is being applied in cold weather, which derates the top outlet valve flow by 20%.  In fact many producers shy away from early spring application because the equipment is just not available to the job

Remember NH3 is always pushed out of the tank. NH3 is never sucked out of the tank.  Pumps can not suck NH3 out of the tank. Bottom outlet valves have more push since the pressure drop is less. The 1.25” bottom outlet excess flow valve rating is three times greater than top outlet valves.  Regarding NH3 flow from a single tank….. One three inch bottom outlet valve from a 2,000 gallon Exactrix tank is equivalent to 6 to 8 top outlet valve tanks. Your major problem with NH3 may be the tank’s top outlet valves.  You may not own the tanks so change is difficult for fertilizer dealers.  It may be better to own your own tanks or joint venture tank ownership with your neighbor or the fertilizer dealer.  You can view bottom outlet tanks at www.exactrix.com/tanks.htm.   

Slowing down to apply NH3 in cold weather is frustrating for producers.  Basically the fertilizer dealers have given their problem to you the producer.  The fertilizer dealers have very little interest in promoting the efficiency of NH3 application.  The Exactrix system reduces N use by 30 to 40%.  Custom applicators call and constantly report the cold weather problem to Exactrix.  Obviously everyone wants a simple solution to an “age old” problem. 

Photos courtesy of "Successful Farming"

Top outlet valves are rated at 20 gpm in cold weather and 25 gpm in warm weather side dress conditions.  The valves are tested by UL and cannot exceed this value.  The top outlet excess flow valve will begin to close at flow rates above their rated flow value.  This makes VR-N and high-speed application in cold weather impossible. 

The Exactrix “Phase Shifter” will deliver liquid NH3 from top outlet valves at flows to 20 gpm from one tank or 40 gpm from two tanks.  The Exactrix “Phase Shifter” is a thermal pump that produces 25 psi of boost at 100-psi tank pressure.  The “Phase Shifter” has the effect of raising the NH3 tanks of 88 feet to165 feet above the metering point. This thermal pump effect is called NPSH or Net Positive Suction Head.  

The “Phase Shifter” Technology was previously available only on the Exactrix 2KFT liquid NH3 direct injection 2002 production systems.  The 2KD systems, that weigh the NH3, could previously only use bottom outlet valves.  In 2003 the 2KD “Weigh Master” direct injection liquid state NH3 application systems will have the “Phase Shifter” technology.  This will allow the 2KD systems to use top outlet tank valves to 40 gpm.    

Delta P, “Phase Shifter” Field Observations show outstanding promise for gas state NH3 applications. 

The Delta P dual stage manifold is now available for electronic pressure reducing, gas state NH3 application systems.

That is correct Exactrix does offer high port-to-port accuracy, low CV gas state NH3 application in pressure reducing mode.  This allows producers to utilize their existing electronic systems to apply NH3 accurately. 

The cost of the Delta P is a major factor in releasing the exclusive system to producers.  A 12 port Delta P manifold is priced at $2,379 complete with EVA line. The outstanding port-to-port accuracy is generated at 5% CV in the second stage and 7% CV on the primary stage with NH3.   

For comparison The 2KD “Weigh Master” has delivered accuracy of less than 1% CV as tested.  The previous best pressure reducing manifold, the Continental Vertical Dam has CV’s of 21% to 25% and up to 35% when the cooler vent tubes are included.  CV’s may actually be higher when two or more Continental Vertical Dam manifolds are used on airseeders and wide tool bars. 

The Delta P manifold is orificed at the manifold outlet ports so standard EVA lines can be used.  Three line sizes are available in 150 psi rated, black, EVA, .170”,  .25” and .375” id industry standard arrangements.   Two of the manifold outlet orifices are downsized to match the vented flow of the cooler or the Exactrix “Phase Shifter”.  The vent tubes are connected to the two dedicated shank openers.  The Delta P manifold is available to all supplier’s of NH3 electronic systems presently.   

The Delta P manifold is manufactured in port arrangements of 12, 18, 24, 36, and 48 port.  A 60 port and 72 port arrangement is available for airseeders in 2003. Unused manifold port outlets are blanked since the flow is dual staged with the proper system backpressure to maintain a higher liquid state NH3 flows. Application pressures are at close to tank pressure.  This is accomplished with dual staging .035” diameter primary ports and typical .080” manifold outlet port orifices (30” band spacing).  Airseeders due to the narrow band spacing use .050” diameter manifold outlet port orifices (10” band spacing). 


The secondary stage port outlet orifices can be changed to match band spacing and maximum outlet flow ratings.  The manifold port outlet orifices can be easily field changed if so desired by the producer. The NH3 is flow divided twice in the Delta P manifold precision orifices before entering the EVA delivery lines.  The 36 and 48 port arrangements eliminate the need for multiple manifolds.  A single central manifold always produces the best results in pressure reducing gas state application systems.  

For the producer the long-term approach of Delta P manifolds is the eventual conversion to Exactrix liquid state NH3 metering.  The Delta P manifold allows producers to get started with low CV, NH3 application using their existing electronic delivery system.  As the budget allows, the producers can order the balance of the components to set up the system as an Exactrix Direct Injection liquid state direct injection NH3 system. 

The Delta P manifold can also be used to meter liquid fertilizers such as 20-0-0, 28-0-0, 32-0-0.  The accuracy delivered to each application point is less than .5% CV or less than 1% CV.  This is about 10 times better than flooded manifolds using orifice plates.  This is about 25 times better than peristaltic squeeze type pumps.  An added plus is the dual stage feature that allows for VR-N application of the nitrogen materials.  The pressure flow dual staging eliminates the need for two flooded manifolds to cover the flow range of VR-N. 

  Delta P manifolds are installed at two locations on a
  Deere 1860/1890 to dual apply with NH3,
  Polyphosphate and Thio-Sul®. The dual application
  enhances nutrient efficiency. Even and uniform application with dual staging Delta P
  manifolds assures maximum pressure and flow performance.




Phase Shifter reviewed…. A thermal pump of high efficiency. 

The “Phase Shifter” is highly recommended for the Delta P manifold.  The “Phase Shifter” combines system-filtering, consolidation of NH3 flow from two tanks, and normalizing to liquid state flow of the NH3.  The Phase Shifter produces a 25-psi boost or margin of liquid state NH3. A schematic of the Phase Shifter is at www.exactrix.com/2KF.htm.   The electronic flow meter is able to meter NH3 much more accurately with the 25-psi thermal-boosting Phase Shifter pump.  The Phase Shifter includes several components into one

component.  This reduces system set up cost by as much as $500.  The pressure reducing system also becomes more compact and easier to install with the Phase Shifter. 


The Exactrix Phase Shifter uses 6 to 10 times less vaporizer flow than a Continental or Raven cooler.  Testing at PAMI indicates that competitive coolers can apply as much as 180 extra pounds of Nitrogen in two vented bands.  The Exactrix Phase Shifter evens the vaporizer venting by downsizing the manifold make-up orifice adapters from the Delta P manifold.  As a result Phase Shifter vented bands are applied evenly. Coolers are seldom used in high yield wheat production in the PNW since the winter wheat tends to lodge in the cooler vented bands. 

The Exactrix Phase Shifter works well with N-serve.  N-serve will normally crystallize in a competitive NH3 cooler.  The Raven or Continental cooler may need to be disassembled and cleaned.  The Exactrix Phase Shifter requires 10 times less flow of vaporizer coolant flow. The Phase Shifter’s high efficiency results in minimal N-serve crystallization in the vaporizer.  N-serve is thus very compatible with the Phase Shifter. The Phase Shifter filters must be serviced more often when N-serve is applied with NH3.  The N-serve does produce a high particulate load e.g. rust.  N-serve may perform better if it is injected into the NH3 stream flow at the filter rather than tank mixing.  Corrosion of the tanks and valves are reduced.  The N-serve is better mixed into the stream flow. Tank mixing may result in over-application of N-serve due to stratification. 

NH3 high-pressure injection with the Farmland E-sweep opener.  


A major advantage of the Exactrix high pressure direct injection system is opener designs can be modified to eliminate deep banders.  This can result in a $30,000 to $40,000 reduction in machine investment.  Horsepower and tillage is also greatly reduced.  Rock strew soils can also produce higher operational costs due to deep banding opener breakage.  Soil fracturing with deep banders also reduces seedling emergence and may result in poor stand establishment. 

Exactrix has been testing a Key Ag Farmland chrome sweep airseeder opener over the last four years.  The E-sweep opener design has evolved over this time period.  A durable injector foot is added to the Key Ag Farmland SB-5 opener.  The opener is most commonly applied to Concord airseeder edge-on shanks.  


The highly durable Key Ag Farmland SB-5 opener allows NH3 to be injected between paired seed rows.  Thus seed row phosphate, seed, (two rows) and NH3 are placed or high pressure injected in one opener.  The safety zone required for NH3 is enhanced with this opener design.  Since NH3 is a compressed gas with low mass weight it easily burns into the soil another 2 inches below the seed depth.   

Dr. John Morghan of NDSU investigated this soil/NH3 phenomenon in 1999 at Dennis and Brian Haugen’s farm at Hannaford, ND.  Morghan discovered that the NH3 column is quite narrow.  The concentration of the Exactrix direct injection, liquid applied NH3 is 1 inch wide and the column proceeds downward 2 inches below the injection point.  The liquid state Exactrix NH3 performance is very different as compared to the gas type NH3 systems.  

The gas type NH3 column is normally 2.5 inches to 5 inches in width.  Gas type systems can not burn the NH3 into the soil deeper since the gas is being applied at low velocity.  Gas type NH3 systems also have a very low mass, at least 50 times less than Exactrix liquid NH3 application systems.  Gas type NH3 systems allow the NH3 to expand up to 850 times its’ stored volume of 5.2 pounds per gallon. 

Each Exactrix injector tip generates 1.5 horsepower. The typical flow is .331 gpm NH3 at 240 psi in airseeder applications. Thus the pump generated and tank generated force is directed at a stream flow width of .030” diameter.  This is about the width of toothpick end.  Exactrix is investigating even higher injection pressures to 400 psi to drive the NH3 about 4” below the cutting edge of the opener.  The Exactrix tip velocity is presently120 mph.  The plan is to double the tip velocity to 240 mph and decrease the column width to .025” diameter.  NH3 is the only fertilizer material that can be utilized since the NH3 mass is so low and NH3 is immediately attracted to soil moisture. 


The Key Ag Farmland E-sweep opener with the Exactrix injector foot seed flow splitter maintains the seed germination safety zone by directing the seed and seed row phosphate to either side of the high pressure liquid NH3 band.   The seed rests on an undisturbed shaved soil surface.  The Exactrix injector foot allows seed to germinate evenly.  Osmotic movement of soil moisture moves directly through the firm soil to the seed.  NH3 is precision located to side and below the seed.  The seed remains positionally and chemically separated from the soil moisture combined NH4.  Since the bands are quite dilute the NH4 can be easily digested by the soil bacteria and converted to soil nitrate NO3. 


Other applications for the Farmland E-sweep may be found in the Corn Belt.  Side dressing                                                                                                                                                                                                            applications are being investigated. 
The chrome sweep has exceptional wear characteristics and no closing wheels are required.  Thus weed control can be enhanced keeping residue on top. 









Greg Kreikemeir sets two world records for the application of NH3.

Last year Greg set a world record by applying 30,000 gallons of NH3 in a one-day period.  On November 27, 02 Greg fired up his X-16 tool bar and applied Exactrix NH3 at 0*F at 9.5 mph at 45 gallons per minute.  Tank pressure was 15 psi. The system direct injection pressure was 135 psi. The applied rate was within .001 or 10 pounds in 10,000 pounds applied using the Exactrix Elite Mass Flow 2KD “Weigh Master”. Greg applied 500 acres in 3” of snow overlying unfrozen dry soils at West Point, Nebraska. 

The X-16 openers performed beyond expectations with excellent sealing.  Greg had no trouble finding his mark.  www.exactrix.com/progressive.htm

Another key advantage in the application was the Exactrix Bottom Outlet Tanks. www.exactrix.com/tanks.htm
.  Bottom outlet valve kits installed on his twin 1,450 gallon AWT NH3 trailer tanks allowed a liquid flow of NH3 to the Exactrix pressure increasing sliding vane pump. www.exactrix.com/2KD.htm.   In fact Greg kept moving and Tom Englemeyer his neighbor could not apply.  Tom has an Exactrix 2KFT but the single top outlet tank could not deliver the NH3 to the E-6 pump.  Greg did offer his bottom outlet tank trailers to Tom as soon as he was done applying NH3 in the snow. 

Photo courtesy of "Successful Farming"

In the next issue 21 of Exactrix Times, June 2003.

  1. Deere 1850, 1860, 1690, and 1890 has double duty in your farming operation, fertilizer placement.

  2. Z-10, High speed, Narrow spacing, Side dressing, NH3 dual application openers.

  3. New crops for Relay Intercropping.

  4. Mid-Tech Legacy 6000 multi-product controller and application mapping.

  5. Carbon credits for no-till farmers.

  6. Bourgault opener review.

  7. Clearfield, “Farming is a controversy with weeds”.

  8. Producer reports using the E-sweep.

  9. Doubling phosphate efficiency using simple techniques.

  10. On farm storage of NH3, The secret to the upcoming nitrogen crisis.

  11. New products from Exactrix. 


Exactrix® Global Systems LLC
509 995 1879 cell, Pacific.

4501 East Trent Ave.
Spokane, WA 99212
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