With the phasing out of ammonium nitrate as a fertilizer source, producers need to better understand how ammonia volatilization from urea may occur in their soils. Many factors affect ammonia volatilization such as fertilizer placement, soil temperature, soil moisture, wind, precipitation and soil pH. These articles and presentations explain more about this process and how producers might minimize nitrogen loss from volatilization.

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  • Recovery of Surface Applied Urea is Maximized Through Spring Application and Agrotain Use (College of Ag & Ext Report 2017)
  • Reducing N Fertilizer Loss to Air (The Soil Scoop)
  • Nitrogen Recovery from Broadcast Urea is Affected by Application Timing and Agrotain (Fertilizer Facts No. 71)
  • Factors Affecting Nitrogen Fertilizer Volatilization(pdf) and Management to Minimize Nitrogen Fertilizer Volatilization(pdf) - two MSU bulletins.
  • Minimizing urea volatilization in cool semi-arid regions – an article in the Nov/Dec 2012 issue of Crops & Soils. This is available to American Society of Agronomy members and to Certified Crop Advisers for CEUs under the Nutrient Management section.
  • Engel, R., C. Jones, and R. Wallander. 2011. Ammonia volatilization from urea and mitigation by NBPT following surface application to cold soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 75:2348-2357. (pdf)
  • Ammonia loss from surface-applied urea to cold soils: A second look (Fertilizer Facts No. 70)
  • Mitigation of Ammonia Loss from Urea Applied to Moist Soils by Agrotain®,(Fertilizer Facts No. 60)
  • Ammonia Loss from Urea Surface-applied to Cold Soils, (Fertilizer Facts No. 59)
  • Management of Urea Fertilizers (Kansas State Univ bulletin with valid chemistry but some obsolete recommendations; pdf)


  • Ammonia Volatilization: Process, Contributing Factors, Effect on Yield and Protein, Management to Minimize - created for web (pdf)
  • Urea Volatilization Research - Farm Collaboration: SARE video 2015 (htm)
  • Ammonia Volatilization: Process, Factors Affecting, and Yield Effects, MABA/MGEA, 2006 (pdf)
  • Management Practices to Minimize Volatilization, Moccasin, 2014 (pdf)
  • Management to Reduce Volatilization Losses, 2011 (pdf); Streaming video of Dr. Jones giving this presentation  (Feb. 7, 2011, Malta, MT audience). High speed internet connection is recommended. http://msuextensionconnect.org/p44239434/


  • WSARE Final Report 2014 - Minimizing ammonia-N loss from no-till cropping systems (pdf)
  • WSARE Annual Report 2011 - Minimizing ammonia-N losses from no-till cropping systems (pdf)

Current research on ammonia volatilization from urea fertilizer