Anhydrous ammonia for vegetable crops: Could it be a viable proposition?

Anhydrous ammonia fact sheet image









Anhydrous ammonia has long been used as a preplant and side dressing fertiliser in the cotton and grain industries. It results in a high retention of nitrogen in the soil, reduced leaching of nitrates through the soil and yield increases in various crops. However, it needs to be treated with care as it can cause injury to farm workers.

Anhydrous ammonia has beneficial effects on soil microbes, nitrifying bacteria and worms. It is more suited to row crops rather than babyleaf crops, where even distribution nitrogen in the soil is required.

What is anhydrous ammonia? 

Anhydrous ammonia is the most concentrated form of nitrogen (N) fertiliser, containing 82% available N.

Ammonia, which is normally a gas, can be converted into a liquid under high pressure, making it easier to transport and apply to the soil.

Once injected into the soil, anhydrous ammonia reacts with water in the soil to produce ammonium, which can either be held in the soil, or converted to nitrate for uptake by the plant roots.

Anhydrous ammonia is supplied in Australia by Incitec- Pivot Fertilisers, predominantly to the cotton and grain industries, and supply locations are focused around the areas these crops are produced.

Anhydrous ammonia can have beneficial effects on soil microbes, nitrifying bacteria and worms. It can also increase N retention in the soil, reducing nitrate leaching, resulting in yield and nitrogen-use-efficiency benefits.

Anhydrous ammonia in vegetable crops – what do we know? 

Incorporating anhydrous ammonia into vegetable cropping systems can provide a range of benefits to producers such as increased soil health, reduced cost, increased yield and reduced environmental impact from a reduction in nitrate leaching.


A factsheet on Anhydrous ammonia in vegetables is available here

The final report from VG15062 is available here

Project number 15062


This project has been funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited using the vegetable levy and funds from the Australian Government as project VG15062.

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