Dr. Alan Blaylock Joins Agripod To Discuss Smart Nutrition™ MAP+MST® For Western Canada

Nutrien Senior Agronomist Dr. Alan Blaylock joins Alice McFarlane on the Agripod podcast to talk about Smart Nutrition™ MAP+MST® for growers across Western Canada.

Jump to 6:23 in the episode below to listen to the interview or read Dr. Blaylock’s answers below.


Tell us about Smart Nutrition MAP+MST and how it’s different from traditional forms of MAP.

Our conventional MAP, meaning monoammonium phosphate, is simply a phosphorus fertilizer with some nitrogen that’s manufactured in a number of places in North America. The difference with the Smart Nutrition MAP+MST is the monoammonium phosphate, the MAP granule, is infused with a micronized sulfur material. That creates a homogeneous granule containing both phosphate and sulfur that gives us the advantage of eliminating segregation and some of those common problems we have with blending.

It’s important to emphasize that it is different from a traditional form of sulfur?

Yes. There are multiple forms of sulfur that the farmer can use. One of the most common is ammonium sulfate—it’s immediately available, and all the sulfur is in the sulfate form, which is good for plant availability, but sulfate is leachable. If we have excess moisture it’s going to behave in the soil much like nitrate. Another common form is the elemental sulfur in a clay matrix—the 90 percent, 85 percent sulfurs that are straight elemental sulfur. Sulfur is bound in a matrix with bentonite clay, which in contact with moisture swells and allows that granule to fall apart. So one being ammonium sulfate, being immediately soluble and immediately available, the other being 100 percent elemental sulfur meaning that sulfur has to oxidize and is not immediately available. It has to convert to the sulfate form in the soil.

The difference with Smart Nutrition MAP+MST is that sulfur that is infused into that MAP granule is in an extremely fine particle size (average size being 15 microns). That means it is going to become available much faster than some of the traditional elemental sulfur products.

What are the key benefits from a crop production standpoint?

One of the key benefits, particularly versus ammonium sulfate, is the safety aspect. Because ammonium sulfate has a fairly high salt index you are limited in how much can be applied in the seed row. You can really only use small amounts of ammonium sulfate in the seed row, whereas Smart Nutrition MAP+MST is going to be similar to phosphate, even slightly lower salt index than conventional MAP. The sulfur component being a very finely ground elemental sulfur doesn’t have any salt index because it is not soluble. That means greater seed safety than some of the conventional ammonium sulfate fertilizers while having the convenience of having everything in one granule and still being readily available.

Nutrien has conducted research on this product. What have your trials shown in terms of the crops that have responded the best?

In Western Canada we have looked primarily at canola because canola has a high sulfur requirement and sulfur nutrition is very important. Wheat has been a little less responsive and in a lot of areas in Western Canada the wheat is not particularly responsive to sulfur. Wheat does need sulfur but many of the soils are providing. We’ve done research in the US as well. We looked at corn, soybeans and wheat and we have other studies going on with a variety of other crops. For the Canadian market we really focused on the canola.

For many canola growers the best way to use Smart Nutrition MAP+MST would be to use a little bit of ammonium sulfate with it. We are still looking at different blends to optimize the appropriate blends for both phosphorus rate and sulfur rate, and because of the cooler soils and the early sulfur demand of canola in Canada we are getting great results with about a 75:25 ratio of Smart Nutrition MAP+MST sulfur to the ammonium sulfate.

How does this compare to a more traditional blend of fertilizer?

In a traditional blend we have all these different components that we’re trying to put together. Certainly we can customize that to whatever the crop needs and that’s certainly what we’re trying to do. The difference with the MAP+MST is that we have nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur all in a homogeneous granule so they are all delivered together. Particularly for seed row placement, that is a convenient way to put all of those nutrients in the seed row.

To learn more about Smart Nutrition for canola. 

Questions or comments? Ask an Agronomist or message us on Twitter @Smart_MST.