PERLKA® - our black gold

Calcium cyanamide PERLKA®

for a healthy soil and healthy plants

Calcium cyanamide is a very special fertilizer. It not only supplies the soil with nitrogen and lime but it also offers a range of other unique special effects. Many farmers insist on calcium cyanamide or PERLKA® in order to prevent yield and quality losses during increasingly tight crop rotations, or to be able to manage them properly once again.  Why? – because soil hygiene is more important than ever to ensure sustainable production.

"Healthy soils mean healthy plants" goes the saying – and more than 100 years of calcium cyanamide production later this rule still hits the nail right on the head!

The following internet pages give detailed information about how calcium cyanamide works and how to use it for the best results.

 

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. Soil-borne pathogens are forced into retreat by the stronger natural competition.

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 hygiene is improved at the same time.

Martin Eberl

Martin Eberl

T +49 8621 86-2258

martin.eberl@alzchem.com
 

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. Soil-borne pathogens are forced into retreat by the stronger natural competition.

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 hygiene is improved at the same time.

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.

The decomposition of calcium cyanamide in soil:

A part of the cyanamide reacts further into dicyandiamide (DCD). This DCD has nitrification inhibitory properties, i.e. it delays the conversion of the ammonium nitrogen into nitrate that is caused by certain soil bacteria (Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter).

 

Schema of nitrification:

Dicyandiamide inhibits soley the activity of the Nitrosomonas bacteria, and not that of Nitrobacter.  This means that no plant-damaging nitrite can accumulate in the soil.  Generally speaking, calcium cyanamide converts in the soil via two phases: 

 

Reaction phase and fertilizing phase

During the reaction phase calcium cyanamide delivers its many additional effects.  This phase continues for between 8 to 14 days in the soil depending on reaction conditions. The reaction rate depends on the moisture, temperature and activity of the soil, its humus content and the quantity of fertilizer applied.

It should be emphasized that no harmful residues remain in the soil after the phytosanitary special effect of the calcium cyanamide. The cyanamide is completely transformed into urea, thereby improving the nitrogen nutrition of the plants. The nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide also slowly decomposes into urea. This means that in the end everything is made available as a nutrient to the plants in the form of nitrogen and lime, with no non-soil decomposition products formed.

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.

 

Applying:

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. Ground calcium cyanamide can be applied with any box fertilizer spreader.

 

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 areas:

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.

 

Contract farming / extensification programs:

Even with some cultivation programs where chemical pesticides must be omitted in part or entirely, calcium cyanamide may still be used to take advantage of its phytosanitary additional effects aimed at maintaining the health of the crops, in addition to its fertilizing effect.

As with any N-fertilizer the application rate of calcium cyanamide depends on the nitrogen requirements of the plants and the nitrogen supply in the soil.

 

Please observe the safety instructions when working with calcium cyanamide.

For further questions please contact one of our consultants

For further information please contact one of our consultants or request free information material.

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