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What is calcium cyanamide?

Discovered more than 100 years ago, calcium cyanamide was the first mineral fertilizer to enable atmospheric nitrogen to be used for plant nutrition. Today the multipurpose fertilizer still plays an important role in crop cultivation, because calcium cyanamide is the only fertilizer that contains the nutrient element nitrogen in the so-called NCN binding form. This helps ensure that plants are supplied with nitrogen over a longer time period as and when needed. Fertilizing with calcium cyanamide also increases the biological activity of the soil.

The second nutrient element that calcium cyanamide contains is calcium. This is mostly water-soluble and so is immediately available to the plants. Whereas other nitrogen fertilizers tend to make the soil more acid, calcium cyanamide improves the lime balance of the soil. In sum, on soils that are fertilized with calcium cyanamide plants receive the ideal amount of nitrogen, the structure of the soil is improved through the addition of valuable lime, and the soil health is improved at the same time.

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General notes


Calcium cyanamide is much more than an ordinary nitrogen fertilizer. Because of the special way it works increased attention is required when using it. To be able to take full advantage of its additional benefits without impairing the crops you should observe the following instructions

Waiting period:

If calcium cyanamide is to be spread before sowing or before planting the crops then the sowing or planting must wait until the fertilizer nitrogen in the soil is present in the form of urea or ammonium. Conversion will only happen when conditions are moist. Incorporating the calcium cyanamide to a shallow depth in the topsoil can speed up conversion.

Rule of thumb for the waiting period: 2 - 3 days per 100 kg/ha
That would require, for example, a waiting period of 8 - 12 days if you are using 400 kg/ha Perlka®.  If you are not sure please do a cress test(germination of cress seeds in a soil sample)!


Top dressing:

With certain crops top dressing is also an option. Exactly when this should be done depends on the growth and development stage of the plants, and differs from crop to crop. For more precise details please refer to the recommendations for use with particular crops.


General rule:

When the plants are stressed (drought, heat, frost, etc.) no calcium cyanamide should be applied to the stock! Always use the granulated  Perlka® for the top dressings with calcium cyanamide. During application of the fertilizer the crop plants should be dry but the soil needs to be moist, so that the fertilizer can convert.



To ensure good plant compatibility and optimal use of the positive side effects the fertilizer should be spread evenly. Perlka® (=pearled calcium cyanamide) can be spread using any conventional spreader. Working widths of up to 32 meters can be used, depending on the fertilizer spreader.  Please contact the manufacturer to enquire about the appropriate settings on the fertilizer spreader.  Several companies, such as Amazon, Rauch and Bogballe provide this information online.


Safety distance:

If there are other crops close by that are in a sensitive development stage you should ensure that they are not impaired when the calcium cyanamide is spread.


Water Protection:

Calcium cyanamide may be used in water protection areas. Of course, in this case the amount of N should be adapted to the requirements of the crop and in compliance with existing regulations on nitrogen fertilization. The amount of N has to be adapted to the requirement of the crop. When calculating the demand for fertilization please take into account the soil’s contents of mineral nitrogen (Nmin). All applications of calcium cyanamide Perlka have to be in compliance with the existing regulations on nitrogen fertilization.


Please observe the safety instructions when working with calcium cyanamide.


Details on different application areas


Application for cereals, potatoes, corn, rapeseed, beet, sunflowers and other crops.


Application for horse pastures, cattle pastures, meadows and other pastures.

Vegetable cultivation

Application for brassicas, leeks, lettuce, asparagus, onions and other crops.


Application in orcharding

Other applications

Application for nurseries, hop, composting, lawns, tobacco, wine growing and ornamental plants.



After spreading moisture in the soil induces calcium cyanamide to convert over several intermediate stages into fertilizing lime and plant-accessible ammonium nitrogen. In the first partial reaction calcium cyanamide is converted into lime and cyanamide. The intermediate product cyanamide is then converted via urea fully into plant-accessible ammonium. Contrary to widespread opinion when calcium cyanamide converts no poisonous cyanide gas is produced that might leak from the soil. What is produced is actually cyanamide, which remains in the aqueous soil solution and which is responsible for the special effectiveness of the calcium cyanamide.

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