As planting ramps up after spring was slow to arrive in many parts of North America, farmers will be closely monitoring their early-season fertilizer applications to ensure crops get off to a strong start.

Use of nitrogen stabilizers are a staple on some farms to prolong the effectiveness of spring-applied nutrients. But a new company is beta-testing a unique alternative to chemically-applied nitrogen inhibitors.  

Lafayette, Ind.-based investment company Little Engine Ventures, recently acquired technology company Stable’N, developers of an aftermarket system that creates high-voltage electrical pulses to sterilize a 3-inch section of soil in the seedbed made during a spring fertilizer application or tillage pass.

Renamed Boden Technology, after the German word for soil, new company CEO Bill Gass, says the science behind the technology creates a 5 week window before applied nitrogen in the seedbed will covert to nitrates.

“It’s about 100,000 volts, kind of like a sparkplug in your car. There’s a burst of energy, a very high burst of energy. In a field situation, because you are going across the field, you can go about 6 mph and you are charging (the soil) so it takes a lot of energy to do that. You are basically impacting a field and the soil in an area 3 inches wide and it’s usually about 5-7 inches deep because of the shape and the way the electricity flows through the system.”

Gass adds that field testing will continue this spring, after which time the company will set a price for the system and plans are for a limited release this fall.