Everything to Know About NH3 Application Parts and Equipment
U.S. crop production estimates indicate that average corn yields would decrease by 40% without nitrogen fertilizer. NH3 application replenishes spent soil and ensures a healthy yield.
Anhydrous ammonia contains 82% nitrogen, which makes it the choice of most farms. It is highly soluble in water and enters prepared soil readily. For most farms, the ideal NH3 application is in the fall, six months or so before spring planting.
NH3 is applied directly to the soil as a gas or in a liquid solution. The application requires specialized equipment to keep people and plants safe. Have no fear, though, read on for our simple explanation.
All About NH3
Anhydrous NH3 behaves similar to water. It is found as a solid, liquid, and gas. It is one of the most efficient and widely used sources of nitrogen fertilizer used today. It is readily available and easily applied with the right equipment.
NH3 application is direct to the soil. It is a pressurized liquid that immediately vaporizes exiting the tank. Place NH3 four to eight inches below the soil to prevent vapor loss into the atmosphere.
In the right soil conditions, nitrogen loss is minimal compared to other types of fertilizer. NH3 reacts quickly with organic matter, clay particles, free hydrogen ions, and water in the soil. After application, the soil typically retains nitrogen in an oval patch 2 to 5 inches in diameter.
For all its advantages, NH3 has some significant safety concerns. It requires high-pressure storage and safe handling. In addition, workers must wear personal protective equipment and have adequate education and supervision to use the product. Failure to observe adequate safety measures can end badly.
Proper NH3 equipment begins with a pressure tank. It must be pressure tested to 250 psi or more. Do not use an LPG tank as NH3 is corrosive. Ensure the design of the NH3 system is correct, and that the assembly and maintenance requirements are met.
Protect couplings between air drills, air tanks, and the NH3 tank with safety chains, locking draw pins and safety break-away fittings.
An NH3 tank pulled behind another piece of equipment like the tank of an air seeder needs safety break-away couplers at the main delivery hose. Place break-away couplers at both the rear of the tank and the rear of the seeder. Place safety chains to prevent the loss of control if a hitch pin bends or breaks.
There are several different types of knives and shanks to place NH3 in the correct place. NH3 in water, "aqua ammonia" does not require deep injection into the soil and is added to irrigation water or in flooded soil conditions.
Never bend hoses, twist fittings or undo connectors in a pressurized system. Always drain all hoses and lines before performing service on an NH3 system. Purge and drain the ground opener line. If a blocked NH3 line is opened, it can splash out liquid NH3 which will instantly vaporize and cause injury.
Open and close valves in the correct sequence to purge lines. Beware of working in enclosed spaces. NH3 is corrosive to eyes, skin, lungs, etc. NH3 vapor can combust if mixed with air and has an ignition source.
Always wear PPE including skin protection and eye coverage when working with NH3. In the U.S. and Canada, there are strict requirements for the storage and use of NH3 including regular equipment service and inspection.
For example, in Minnesota, the NH3 storage facility needs the following:
- 2 full-face gas masks
- 4 NH3-rated canisters
- chemical splash full face shield
- NH3- impervious full gauntlet gloves
- NH3 impervious boots
- NH3 impervious slicker or pants/jacket
- Safety shower and eyewash station
Other parts of the country have similar requirements.
When to Schedule NH3 Application
Post-harvest application is the norm in cold-weather climates. Nitrification slows in soil temperatures of 50°F but doesn’t completely stop until the soil reaches 36°F. Ideally, place NH3 when soil temperatures are 36-40°F. A stabilizer may be added to allow a greater window of application but ay interfere with spring planting.
The application of NH3 forms the nitrogen foundation for the entire next year. Accurate gauges, flowmeters and rate controllers from knife to knife are essential to the process. Maintaining the NH3 flow in liquid form, at high pressure is the key. Pressure varies with temperature and the amount remaining in the tank, so accurate measurement is important.
Some agronomists favor stripping a field to place a band of NH3 six to eight inches below the seed. Other farms prefer to change the nitrogen profile of all of the soil. Regardless of your particular preference, accurate measurement ensures that fertilizer delivery is evenly applied to the selected soil and not to the air.
The in-season application of NH3 is usually to the side of the growing crop. Too wet or too dry conditions affect the nitrification process. Inaccurate placement or flow can harm the growing crop.
Select Your NH3 Application Equipment for Quick Delivery
Specialized NH3 equipment, including PPE, rate control gauges and other replacement parts can be delivered to your home, farm, or business. There is no reason to delay maintenance or risk your crop due to a lack of equipment.
Barn Door Ag makes shopping for NH3 application equipment simple with quick online shopping. We maintain partnerships with the largest brand names in the business, backed by solid research and experience.
With something as important as your next crop, Your investment in quality NH3 application equipment is major. The process is easy, but the risks are high without the right equipment. We carry a wide selection of gauges to make sure you are applying at the right tank pressure.
We also stock an assortment of valves, adapters, fittings, and hoses to attach your tools and equipment safely. Contact us today to have what you need delivered to your door.