A rarely used form of nitrogen could help to bring waterlogged winter cereal crops back into contention, suggests a ‘smart’ fertiliser pioneer.

Application of an amine nitrogen reflects research that shows not all nitrogen is equal as far as crops are concerned. “Most available soil nitrogen is in the nitrate form,” says Levity Crop Science’s Nigel Lyster. “Regardless of the type of N applied, it’s always set upon by soil bacteria and converted into nitrate.

“However, plants exhibit particular physiological responses when they access different forms of N. Amine nitrogen is distinct because it’s more easily metabolised by the plant, requiring 12 times less energy. It also stimulates the production of cytokinins, plant hormones that stimulate root development and branching.”

Energy requirements

Amine’s low energy requirement suits plants recovering from stress, whereas nitrates’ high energy demand requires high-functioning photosynthesis. That’s rarely the case in stressed plants, as their ability to absorb CO2 is impaired.

But it’s the root stimulation that’s particularly valuable as a post-flooding remedy, says Nigel. “Flooding is essentially an aberration in soil moisture – it rises quickly and usually recedes quickly. Trouble comes when soil has been saturated for a longer period – the plant roots have become used to where the water is. Once it recedes, ironically, plants can struggle to find enough moisture because the roots can’t follow the water quickly enough.”

Amine nitrogen, explains Nigel, with its cytokinin-stimulating effects, is highly effective at promoting root growth, improving tillering and increasing chlorophyll levels at a low energy cost to the plant.


In plants supplied with amine, photosynthesis has been observed at higher levels than seen with standard nitrogen, Nigel points out, which should prove a boost for struggling crops.

Levity has addressed one of the main drawbacks of amine nitrogen – that soil bacteria quickly convert it into nitrate – with a special stabilised formulation. The LimiN technology uses a chemical bonding mechanism (rather than the inhibitors that are soon to be used with all urea products) to create SAN – stabilised amine nitrogen.

Nigel explains that SAN is invisible to soil bacteria. “This means the plant can access N in an amine form and use its own growth partitioning mechanisms to stimulate root growth at the appropriate time,” he says.