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Last updated: 2022, June 12

Fertilizers in time of sowing winter wheat. Is it need nitrogen fertilizers with sowing winter wheat?


Dr. Oleksii Orlov, PhD in Agriculture


Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

When sowing winter wheat (winter barley, triticale or rye) in the autumn - it is not profitable to apply nitrogen fertilizers to the rows - it is a waste of money! At the photo - late germination of winter wheat after sunflower in a temperate climate (dry, cold continental climate)

Applying nitrogen fertilizers to rows when sowing winter wheat in autumn (also: nitrogen fertilizers - any top dressing, side dressing, application of UAN or ammonia in autumn) - is not economically profitable. Due to the lack of knowledge and fake information, this practice is common only in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, and unfortunately - is still present in Ukraine. In the USA, Canada, Europe, the countries of the British Commonwealth do not do so! Farmers and agro-industrialists who count their money do not apply nitrogen fertilizers when sowing winter wheat in autumn!

Nitrogen fertilizers when applied in the autumn are washed away, leached but do not pay off with an increase in yield.

Applying nitrogen fertilizers when sowing winter wheat, winter barley or winter rye is the same fake as fertilizing by frozen soil. Such investments do not pay off!

For the same reason, fertilizing winter wheat with nitrogen fertilizers in the autumn do not effective.

But to apply phosphorus fertilizers when sowing winter wheat in rows - very profitable, because it contributes to the good development of the root system and increase resistance of plants to freezing in winter. You can also give other nutrients (but not nitrogen), based on soil analysis and a properly calculated fertilizer system.

The rate of fertilizer application for the winter wheat yield of 7 t/ha  and for the 10-12 t/ha yield  will be very different! It is necessary to calculate everything correctly! Contact Agricultural Consulting for this!

Spreading fertilizers (top dressing) before sowing is less cost-effective than applying them at the same time as sowing.

It is recommended to apply phosphorus fertilizers in autumn, when sowing winter wheat (winter rye or winter barley), it is not recommended to apply nitrogen, the minimum norms are indicated below:

  • in many cases farmers give 20-30 kg/ha / 18-28 lbm/ac (Pounds Per Acre) of P2O5 (by active ingredient of phosphorus) but rates must be calculated depends from conditions and planning yield

  • phosphate fertilizer simple 100 kg/ha (89 lbm/ac), contains 16-20% P2O5, or

  • phosphate fertilizer double 40-50 kg/ha (35-45 lbm/ac), contains 43% or 46% P2O5, or

  • liquid complex fertilizers (LCF) containing phosphorus (Р), for example, LCF P18K18, rate must be calculated by P content, planning yield and soil & climatic conditions + possible add K, S, Mg and micronutrients to liquid fertilisers

  • often make other fertilizers (not nitrogen)

  • give phosphorus, potassium fertilizers and other nutrients, the introduction of which in the fall when sowing is justified.

Phosphorus fertilizers are recommended to be given in a row when sowing winter wheat, winter canola and winter barley, even when there is enough phosphorus in your soils!


Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

Always add a small amount of starting rate of phosphorus (P) to the row when sowing, regardless of the soil test. If no starter fertilizer is applied to the row, then the rates of phosphorus (P) on soils with a high and very high phosphorus content should be zero! At the photo - late sowing of hybrid winter rye in continental temperate climate and light black soils - will be frozen after some days


The rate of phosphorus and other nutrients is calculated according to the data of the technical audit of the fields: soils, climate, planned yield, an others data. Contact Agricultural Consulting for a technical audit of your fields!


Sowing HORSCH Pronto DC


If, for any reason, you want to give nitrogen fertilizers in the fall in rows when sowing winter crops, then give the very minimum dose of nitrogen, or better to focus on using of other nutrients that will not be lost if they are applied in time of sowing.

Also, the application of nitrogen when sowing spring wheat or spring barley will be an effective solution!



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