Nitrogen Access in One-Pass Seeding
The ultimate objective in the use of fertilizers is to achieve balanced nutrition throughout the growing cycle. The plants need a supply of nutrients, with none in excess and none being deficient. Other than by using multiple fertilizer applications, Bourgault Mid Row Banders® come the closest to producing this ideal situation. The plants have access to the best form of nitrogen, and at the right time of their growth cycle.
Nitrate Supply from the Mid Row Band
Mid row banding provides the optimum location for plants to access the beneficial nitrate form of nitrogen, but maintain a safe distance from the toxic affects of ammonia and/or ammonium exposure.
  • By placing the fertilizer mid row, the highly mobile nitrate form of fertilizer can dissipate towards the seed rows.
  • Nitrate is the most beneficial form of nitrogen for the plant.
  • The germinating seed and growing seedling is well isolated from the less mobile yet potentially toxic ammonia and ammonium forms of nitrogen. See Nitrification under Fertilizer Toxicity.
Research published in the Journal of Plant Nutrition in 2003 measured nitrate fertilizer (NO3), the usable, least toxic form of nitrogen, being supplied to the seed row from the mid row band in as little as 2 days. The spacing between the seed rows was 8 inches. (Refer to chart at the right.)

Source: Journal of Plant Nutrition, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2003
Managed Nitrate Supply to the Plant
Mid row banding gives the plant access to nitrogen when it needs it, matching the plant’s needs throughout its entire growth cycle. The chart to the right documents the typical nitrogen requirements for canola through its growth stage.
  • In the earliest stages of development, all of the nitrogen that the plant requires is contained in the seed, soil, or provided by the added phosphate fertilizer.
  • As the seedling grows, the root system begins to sense the supply the usable form of nitrogen from the mid row band. As documented, the nitrate can reach the seed row in as little as 2 days.
  • The crop does not need all the nitrogen fertilizer right away! Canola development up to the 5 leaf stage, typically after 4 weeks, requires that 20 lbs. of nitrogen be available to the canola plant.
  • If you are concerned that the seed will be short of nitrogen for whatever reason, with a Bourgault seeding system you can simply apply low levels with the seed.
Source: Potash and Phosphate Institute
With mid row banding, the plant has access to the nitrate from the fertilizer row when needed. The dangers of fertilizer toxicity or salt effect are minimized.

MRB Myth - Mid Row Banders Strands the Nitrogen
One myth about mid row banding is that in dry years, Mid Row Banders with strand the nitrogen so the plant cannot access it.
  • Plants that develop up to the two leaf stage can often have root systems that extend up to 6 inches (15 cm).
  • The nitrogen in the mid row band will diffuse outwardly of 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm) typically within 2 weeks. In fact, independent research has shown that nitrate originating from the mid row band can be detected at the seed row in as little as 2 days.
  • With the mid row fertilizer band being 5 inches (13 cm)from the seed row, it is easy to see that even in dry conditions, the nitrogen fertilizer in the nitrate form will easily reach the radiating root system.
If there is insufficient moisture to facilitate the nitrification of fertilizer, there would be insufficient moisture to support plant growth past germination and the one leaf stage.
The plant will encourage larger and more extensive
root growth towards the nitrate supply.
MRB Fact - The growing plant roots will easily locate and tap into the nitrate radiating from the mid row band.

MRB Myth - Mid Row Banders Feed the Weeds
Another myth about mid row nitrogen application is that it can promote and support weed growth over the nitrogen band, showing up as heavier weed density in every second row spacing.
In mid row banded fields, it is possible to find one row space will be almost devoid of weeds, and the row spaces on either side are relatively populated with weeds. Since the nitrogen band is placed between every second row, it would be understandable to conclude the weeds are growing over the nitrogen band, thriving on the available nutrient from the fertilizer band and competing with the crop. In actuality, the weedy space between the seed rows is typically the non-fertilized inter-row, and the inter-row space with little to no weeds is the location of the banded nitrogen.
The photo on the right is from a farm located near Kalispell, Montana taken in spring 2006. The crop is spring wheat seeded with a Bourgault 5710 air hoe drill on 9.8” spacings and disc-type mid-row banders. 50 lbs. of 11-51-0 was seed-placed, and 240 lbs. of a urea/potash blend placed in the mid row to give 95 pounds of actual N and about 10 lbs. of actual potash per acre.
The nitrogen was placed approximately ¾” deeper than the seed. Moisture was considered to be good at the time of seeding.This photo, taken by the local Agrologist, shows a flush of Russian thistle in the non-banded inter-row space. Why is the Russian thistle not growing where the nitrogen has been placed? A logical explanation is that the toxicity of the nitrogen band was great enough to poison and/or desiccate the weed seeds in close proximity to the fertilizer band.
Weeds Growing Between Rows Without Banded Nitrogen
 MRB Fact - The weeds will actually perish overtop of the toxic fertilizer band.  The space showing weed growth has not been touched by the fertilizer banders.
Garry Meier, P.Ag., Corporate Agronomist for Bourgault Industries Ltd. provides more insight into what is actually happening in these fields.
Download the complete March 2007 article on weed interaction with mid row banding in PDF format.