Nitrogen in Urea Fertilizer [2020]

How Much Nitrogen is in Urea Fertilizer? 2020

Urea fertilizer has the highest amount of nitrogen compared to any other fertilizer. Urea has a NPK value of 46-0-0 which translates to 46% nitrogen, 0% phosphorus and 0% potassium. Urea is all nitrogen.

A nitrogen fertilizer like urea will promote a tremendous amount of plant foliage growth. Nitrogen not only promotes growth but it also promotes chlorophyll production which makes leaves dark green.

More than 90% of the world’s industrial urea production is used as a nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture.

Urea Fertilizer Composition

Urea fertilizer is composed of 2 ammonia molecules and 1 carbon dioxide molecule. The nitrogen is in the 2 ammonia molecules.

So how do we get the nitrogen out of ammonia?

Soil has a bacteria called Urease which catalyzes urea into ammonia and bicarbonate ions. The ammonia is then oxidized by more bacteria into nitrites and then again into nitrates. Ammonium and nitrates are easily taken up by plant roots.

During this process of decomposition, ammonia gas can escape into the atmosphere. Ammonia gas contains nitrogen and so we want to prevent it from escaping the soil. We want it to remain in the soil to take advantage of the nitrogen. If you mix the urea into the soil, it will prevent ammonia gas from escaping. Also wet soil will reduce the amount of ammonia gas that escapes into the air. You can water the soil before or after fertilizing with urea to maximize nitrogen availability.

Urea Nitrogen and Plant Growth

Nitrogen is one nutrient that plants require in order to exist and is responsible for protein synthesis or foliage growth. The physical structure of plants and animals is solely comprised of proteins. The more nitrogen a plant can uptake or absorb, the more growth and chlorophyll production. Chlorophyll also promotes cell growth. Nitrogen is the key to plant growth and fruit production. Urea is the best nitrogen fertilizer for crop production.

Urea Fertilizer Usage

Use urea fertilizer before or during plant growth and fruit production. These are the periods when plant growth is the greatest and the need for nitrogen is the highest. You can fertilize before planting to prepare the soil and store lots of nitrogen in it in preparation of seedlings or young plants. Seedlings need tons of nitrogen to grow in adults.

A large supply of nitrogen will speed up growth and maturity. Harvest time periods can be shortened and production period lengthened. You will get more, better quality and bigger crops. Plant or crop maturity is based on growth rate. If you can increase the growth rate, you can get to fruit production sooner. A plant does not produce fruit until maturity.

So What Are Some Ideal Uses for Urea Fertilizer?

Grass and Lawns – no brainer huh? What plants do people want to have the most green leaves on? GRASS. Who doesn’t want a super lush and dark green lawn? Grass will hugely benefit from a high nitrogen fertilizer like urea. Urea is a fast release nitrogen fertilizer which means you can green up and thicken up your lawn in a few days. It doesn’t take weeks or months. Just fertilize and water regularly and watch it grow.

Shrubs – want more leaves and darker green leaves on your shrubs? Fertilize with urea. Nitrogen will spurt new growth in any shrub. It will also increase flower production. I have a Feather Duster bush that was a bit lack luster in leaf quantity and quality [color]. I fertilized with nitrogen and now it’s bushy with dark emerald green leaves and lots of flowers. It’s like magic.

Trees – about 10 years ago I bought a very small Oak tree. It was about 3 feet tall and hardly had any leaves. It looked like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. For many years, I could not get it to grow much or produce more leaves. I thought it was going to die. One year I decided to fertilize it with some nitrogen. WOW…what a difference that made. In a few weeks it started producing more leaves and the new leaves were dark green. Now it has grown 2 feet in height and about 2 feet in girth. It is now full of leaves, so full you can’t see through it unlike before.

Vegetables – do you need your tomato plants to grow faster? Or produce more or bigger tomatoes? Urea to the rescue! Tomato plants are big nitrogen users. Use urea during the growth phase and then again when mature to kick start fruit production. You’ll get bigger tomatoes and better quality and more of them. Mix in a tablespoon of urea with the soil and water. Or as an alternative, mix 1-3 tablespoons of urea with 1 gallon of water. Water the garden once per week with this solution.

Typically the bigger the plant the more nitrogen it needs. So think about big vegetables like melons, tomatoes, peppers, corn, cucumbers, cabbage, beets, leeks and squash. High nitrogen fertilizers like urea and ammonium nitrate will work magic with these.

Ammonium Sulfate Fertilizer 21-0-0 [2020 update]

Ammonium Sulfate Fertilizer 21-0-0 [2020]

Ammonium Sulfate is a high nitrogen synthetic or non-organic fertilizer that provides additional sulfur to help plants overall health and protein synthesis. Ammonium sulfate is 21% nitrogen and 24% sulfur. The NPK value is 21-0-0.

Ammonium Sulfate provides 21% nitrogen via ammonia. The Ammonium decomposes when exposed to water and then is readily available to plant roots.

Ammonium sulfate is easily stored and more stable than ammonium nitrate.

Ammonium sulfate is human and pet safe.

Uses of Ammonium Sulfate

Ammonium sulfate is popular with rice farmers who apply it to flooded rice fields. Nitrate fertilizers like urea and ammonium nitrate are poor choices in this situation because of denitrification losses. These losses are caused when bacteria convert nitrates and nitrites into nitrogen gas which escapes into the atmosphere. Ammonium sulfate does not react this way.

Ammonium sulfate is especially beneficial for alkaline soils. It tends to acidify soils which is preferable for plants.

Ammonium sulfate is an excellent fertilizer for grass lawns. It will green up a lawn in a few days and increase growth rate and leaf production. It is pretty universal though and can be used for shrubs, trees and any ground cover. The nitrogen will green up foliage and produce more of it. The sulfur helps with overall plant health and protein synthesis.

Onions, garlic, shallots, leeks and other bulbing plants will benefit from ammonium sulfate. The nitrogen will increase foliage which in turn will increase the bulb or root size via more sugar production by photosynthesis. The more leaves, the more photosynthesis and sugar production. Most people think nitrogen is not needed for root vegetables but this is not true.

Other Crops that Benefit from Ammonium Sulfate

  • Corn
  • Alfalfa
  • Cotton
  • Canola
  • Potato
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat

How to Apply Ammonium Sulfate

Ammonium sulfate is a crystal or granular fertilizer and is very easy to handle and spread. Use as directed to avoid burning.

Turf or Grass Lawns – use a broadcast or drop type spreader to apply ammonium sulfate to grass lawns or golf courses. Apply 5 lbs per 1000 square feet or 200 lbs per acre. Reapply every 4-6 weeks.

Shrubs and evergreens – sprinkle 1/4 cup around the drip line of shrubs and then mix in with the top 1 inch of soil. Then water.

Vegetable Plants – apply 1 tablespoon per plant and mix in soil. Ammonium sulfate is also great for blueberry bushes.

Foliar Spray Application – mix 1 gallon of water with 1-3 tablespoons of ammonium sulfate. Use a fine mist sprayer or watering can to apply to foliage. Do not spray plants while in direct sunlight as it may burn the leaves.

Liquid Application – mix 1 gallon of water with 1-3 tablespoons of ammonium sulfate and use to water vegetable gardens, grass and shrubs. Use once per week.

When to Apply Ammonium Sulfate Fertilizer

Apply ammonium sulfate in late spring or late summer for a boost in grass/lawn growth. If too much is applied, you will see an enormous amount of growth. It’s pretty amazing. Avoid using it in late fall to prevent disease or winter kill.

Ammonium sulfate is a fast release fertilizer and will need to be applied every 4-6 weeks. There are however slow release formulations available.

Pros and Cons of Ammonium Sulfate

Advantages – ammonium sulfate is easily stored, non-flammable and easy to apply via broadcast or drop type spreaders. It provides a relatively high amount of nitrogen to stimulate new growth. The added sulfur is necessary for overall health of plants and supports protein synthesis. It is a fast release fertilizer and will stimulate growth in a few days. Ammonium sulfate is an inexpensive fertilizer and can be blended with other fertilizers like urea.

Plant Benefits from Ammonium Sulfate

  • Promotes root development which can reduce loss from droughts
  • Promotes breakdown of organic matter in the soil
  • Stimulates fruit/seed production and early plant maturity
  • Helps nitrates convert into proteins
  • Promotes dark green foliage coloration by increasing chlorophyll
  • Promotes nodule formation on legumes
  • Improves soil structure
  • Increases water filtration

The main disadvantage is it increases acidity in the soil which could require lime at some point to correct the soil pH. Use a soil test kit to monitor soil pH.

Popular Ammonium Sulfate Brands

  • Earthborn Elements
  • Lilly Miller
  • Greenway Biotech
  • Hi-Yield
  • Alpha Chemicals or AC
  • Pure Organic Ingredients
  • Hoss
  • Cesco Solutions

Where to Buy Ammonium Sulfate

You can buy ammonium sulfate at most nurseries and home improvement stores like Lowes, Home Deport and Ace Hardware. It is also available online with free shipping. It comes in a bag weighing from 1 lb to 50 lbs. It costs on average about $3/lb.

Greenway Biotech has a large supply of fertilizers including ammonium sulfate. They offer free shipping on all orders. Hoss also has some great fertilizer products including ammonium sulfate.

You can also use Scotts Turf Builder SummerGuard Lawn Food for grass lawns. It’s very similar to ammonium sulfate with a NPK of 20-0-8. It provides high nitrogen and medium amount of potassium.

What is the Best Way to Add Nitrogen to Soil? [2020]

What is the Best Way to Add Nitrogen to Soil?

The best way to add nitrogen to soil is to apply a fertilizer with high nitrogen. You can use either an organic fertilizer or non-organic fertilizer depending on what your goals are. Non-organic fertilizers will be quick acting while organic fertilizers take more time.

Additional information will help determine which fertilizer type to use.

How Much Nitrogen Do You Need?

In order to know exactly how much nitrogen the soil needs, you would need to have the soil tested. Any local nursery can do soil testing. This will give you the soil situation and then you can determine how much nitrogen you need to add.

You can also buy a soil testing kit and do it yourself. The testing kits cost from $35 to $50. You can buy them online.

Another consideration is the type of plants you will be growing or already have. Some plants need more nitrogen than others. Big leafy plants need more nitrogen like tomato plants.

If you have poor soil like sand or clay, then you will need lots of nitrogen. If your soil on the other hand is rich with lots of organic material then you might not need much or any nitrogen.

If you need a lot of nitrogen then look at Urea 46-0-0, ammonium nitrate 34-0-0, ammonium sulfate 21-0-0 or a 20-10-10 fertilizer. These contain the most nitrogen.

How Fast Does the Soil Need the Nitrogen?

Another consideration when thinking about adding nitrogen to soil is how fast do you need the nitrogen to be available. Do you need it right away or in 2-3 months? Or both?

If you need more nitrogen right now, then you will need to use a non-organic or synthetic fertilizer with high nitrogen. Synthetic fertilizers can release nitrogen in a day or 2. Organic fertilizers take a few months to make nitrogen available and release it in smaller amounts. Bat Guano probably has the highest amount of nitrogen out of the organic fertilizers. It has about 11-13% nitrogen. Synthetic fertilizers can contain up to 46% nitrogen. Urea fertilizer has the highest amount of nitrogen and has a NPK of 46-0-0.

So, if you need nitrogen fast then use a non-organic fertilizer. Urea has the highest amount of nitrogen at 46% while ammonium nitrate comes in 2nd at 34%. Or you can use something like a 20-10-10 fertilizer for a smaller amount of nitrogen. These fertilizers will release the nitrogen in a few days.

If you have existing plants that need nitrogen fast then this is the way to go. If you have a lawn that needs to green up tomorrow then use one of these fertilizers. It will green up in a few days. The transformation is pretty amazing.

If the nitrogen need is not immediate then you can condition the soil with an amendment like compost or steer manure or a commercial garden soil. Mix any of these into the soil or use it straight as the soil. It will provide nitrogen slowly over 4-6 months.

Organic Nitrogen Fertilizers

Organic fertilizers have much smaller amounts of nitrogen but it is released over a long period of time like months. The highest nitrogen organic fertilizer is bat guano which has about 11% nitrogen. Compost has about 2-5% nitrogen. However it will release nitrogen for 6 months or longer.

If you are starting a garden and the soil needs nitrogen then prepare it beforehand. My native soil is clay and does not have any nitrogen, so I have to prepare the soil before growing anything. I mix my native soil with compost in a 1:1 ratio or 1 part soil and 1 part compost. This produces a rich organic matrix that not only contains nitrogen but will also retain water, promote aeration and resist compaction or turning into hard rock when dry. Plant roots like soft soil to grow in without obstacles.

I start preparing my gardens a few months before the growing season. This gives the soil time to initialize the ecosystem. Microbes and bacteria will grow and start to break down the compost into useful nutrients. I prep gardens by tilling the soil or loosening it up and then mixing compost with it.

A 50/50 mix of native soil and a good compost will produce a rich soil that is perfect for most plants. You won’t need to fertilizer for several months if at all during the growing season. When you do need to fertilize, just add a good 3″ thick layer of compost on top of the soil. It will decompose and release nutrients into the soil and also reduce water evaporation. You’ll need to water less often and plants will have more time to absorb the water.

Here are some products you can use to organically fertilize soil with nitrogen.

  • Compost
  • Composted steer or cow manure
  • Commercial Garden Soil like Kellogg’s
  • Soil Conditioners like Kellogg’s N-Rich
  • Bat Guano
  • Blood Meal
  • Worm Castings

Non-organic Nitrogen Fertilizers

Non-organic fertilizers can release large amounts of nitrogen in a day or 2. They are pretty amazing when you see the results after a few days. There are also “slow release” synthetic fertilizers available.

The synthetic fertilizer with the highest amount of nitrogen is urea with 46%. Ammonium nitrate is the 2nd highest with 34% nitrogen and then ammonium sulfate with 21% nitrogen. Any of these can be spread over the top of the soil but it works best if it is mixed or tilled into the soil. This forces the nitrogen to stay in the soil and not escape into the atmosphere when it decomposes. Watering after fertilization will push the nitrogen into the soil where plant roots can absorb it easily.

Because synthetic fertilizers release nutrients quickly, you will need to fertilize every 4-6 weeks to maintain a good supply of nitrogen. Another option is to mix a slow release form of fertilizer with a fast release. You get the best of both worlds.

You can use synthetic or non-organic fertilizers before you plant or after you have already planted. It will increase the growth rate and size of plants quickly. Leaf coloration will dramatically change from light green or yellow to dark, emerald green.

Synthetic fertilizers come in granule form and are easy to apply and store. Follow the directions when applying to avoid harming plants. Too much fertilizer can burn plants and possibly kill them. Urea and ammonium nitrate go along way in gardens where you only use a cup or two for 100 square feet. A 10 or 25 lb bag will last years depending on how large your garden is. It’s pretty cheap at a few dollars per pound.

Here are some non-organic fertilizers that will provide a lot of nitrogen to soil.

  • Urea fertilizer
  • Sulfur-coated urea
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Ammonium sulfate
  • 20-10-10 fertilizer
  • 15-10-10 fertilizer
  • Calcium nitrate
  • Potassium nitrate
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer

Fertilizer Comments

I like to use both types of nitrogen fertilizers, organic and non-organic. In my garden I like to use mostly organic fertilizers but occasionally use urea to spur some growth and produce darker green leaves.

Organic fertilizers work great in gardens as long as you have time to prep the soil before planting. The soil/compost mix or all compost soils work great for vegetable and flower gardens. Plenty of nitrogen will be available for any type plants from tomatoes to lettuce and corn too. Most compost and commercial garden soils cost about $9 per 3 cubic foot bags. 1 bag is enough to condition a 4″ x 8″ box garden.

When it comes to greening up my lawn, I stick with synthetic fertilizers like Urea or ammonium nitrate. It’s cheap, easy to apply and works like magic. Trying to use compost on the entire lawn is not feasible since the grass is already growing which makes it impossible to mix the compost with the soil. Applying compost on top of the grass is not ideal.

I like to mix urea fertilizer with water and then spray the lawn. The dissolved urea penetrates the soil and fertilizes quickly. The grass greens up overnight and grows much faster for weeks.