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Thu Apr 25, 2013, 05:49 PM

Any Ag geeks here? Why ammonium nitrate and not ammonium sulfate?

When I found out there was an ammonium nitrate facility in Central Texas, I was surprised.

Informed home gardeners * in Central Texas purchase ammonium sulfate and not ammonium nitrate. Central Texas, West Texas and South Texas all have a scourge called alkaline soil. Ammonium nitrate tends to raise soil ph, increase soil alkalinity, and can damage plants in alkaline soils. It also creates demand for expensive chelated iron applications.

(Gardeners in East Texas can use the ammonium nitrate without damage to plants because their soils tend to be acidic.)

Alkaline soils are often associated with drier climates, limestone, calcium rich subsoils and caliche.

Alkaline soils can also lend themselves to cotton root rot, which is a scourge of cotton.

However, agriculture is very different than home gardening. Farmers deal with different chemicals than home gardeners. Maybe it is more cost effective for them to deal with the side effects of ammonium nitrate.

I wonder if ammonium nitrate is much cheaper to produce than ammonium sulfate?

Anybody have any thoughts?


* Home gardeners are a different group than agriculture.

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Reply Any Ag geeks here? Why ammonium nitrate and not ammonium sulfate? (Original post)
LeftInTX Apr 2013 OP
Benton D Struckcheon Apr 2013 #1
LeftInTX Apr 2013 #2
mike_c Apr 2013 #3
LeftInTX Apr 2013 #4
white cloud Apr 2013 #5

Response to LeftInTX (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2013, 06:08 PM

1. I'm guessing they were producing for the country,

Not just Texas?

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Response to Benton D Struckcheon (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 25, 2013, 06:11 PM

2. No, it was a retail facility. They purchased ammonium nitrate and sold to local farmers.

The ammonium nitrate was manufactured elsewhere and shipped to West Fertilizer via rail. They only stored and sold the stuff.

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Response to LeftInTX (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2013, 06:14 PM

3. high-yield cropping is nutrient limited if there's sufficient water...

...and nitrate ion is the most common limitation. Ammonium nitrate has more biologically usable nitrogen than ammonium sulfate. They're growing for high production.

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Response to mike_c (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 25, 2013, 06:17 PM

4. Thanks - makes sense

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Response to LeftInTX (Reply #4)

Thu Apr 25, 2013, 07:36 PM

5. I believe the cost of transportation is key

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The main disadvantage to the use of ammonium sulfate is its low nitrogen content relative to ammonium nitrate, which elevates transportation costs.

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Ammonium sulfate has also been used in flame retardant compositions acting much like diammonium phosphate. As a flame retardant, it lowers the combustion temperature of the material, decreases maximum weight loss rates, and causes an increase in the production of residue or char. Its flame retardant efficacy can be enhanced by blending it with ammonium sulfamate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_sulfate

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