Determine Profitable Nitrogen Rates with NDSU’s Nitrogen Calculators

The North Dakota State University (NDSU) extension has nitrogen (N) calculators for nitrogen recommendations for sunflower, spring/durum wheat, and corn. Calculators are available on the web or as a phone app to calculate the most profitable N rate for these crops over a range of crop prices and N costs.

“At the time they were produced, the price ranges were above commodity and fertilizer prices,” says Dave Franzen, soil specialist at NDSU Extension. “Lately, the costs of N fertilizers have reached values ​​higher than those provided as an option in the published calculators.”

“Sunflower contracts, especially for confectionery, are now above the maximum value of 30 cents per pound of sunflower provided as an option in the sunflower calculator,” says Franzen. “Although the calculators are currently being revised to seamlessly accommodate these higher prices and costs, the calculators can still be used dividing grain by seed cost and fertilizer price by two.”

For example, a sunflower grower has a contract for 40 cents per pound for ready-made sunflowers, and N’s costs this spring are expected to be $1.20 per pound. The calculator as written does not allow these values. However, the recommended N rate for 20 cents per pound of ready-made sunflower and $0.60 per pound of N is the same recommended rate for 40 cents per pound of sunflower and $1.20 per pound of N.

“So for now, if the costs of N are greater than $1 per pound of N, and the commodity prices are greater than the calculator provides, divide each value, both the cost of N and the cost of grains/seeds, by two,” explains Franzen. “Then apply these values ​​to the calculator to get the correct N recommendation.”

Web calculators are available online at:

Spring/durum wheat – www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/soils/wheat/

Corn – www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/soils/corn/

Sunflower – www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/soils/sunflower/

All three calculators are available as phone apps for iOS and Android by going to the App Store and searching for North Dakota N Calculator. It’s free to download.

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