Urea fertilisers – best practices on storage, calibration and application

Tractor spreading fertiliser onto wheat.

From April 2024, users of urea fertiliser will be expected to self-regulate its safe use on farm. Make sure you are up to date with the best practices to take when storing, calibrating and applying it. 

Urea storage

Urea fertiliser should be kept in a closed, secure store to protect the product from both the weather and the risk of theft.

Store your urea in an area that is: 

  • Protected from moisture – this avoids the fertiliser from lumping together 
  • Away from direct sunlight – this can affect the fertiliser packaging 
  • Free of dust and dirt 
  • Of a temperature between 5°C and 30°C

Stacking fertiliser

Be sure to stack them on a level surface in a stable arrangement, such as with a pallet rack.

Remember that urea is not as stable when stacked compared to ammonium nitrate, so it may be more prone to falling over.

You can find further general guidance on fertiliser storage at: Advice on storing fertiliser safely – NFUonline

Urea calibration

Calibrating a fertiliser spreader ensures that the right amount of urea product is landing in the right place across the whole of the field.

Different fertiliser products require different settings, depending on its manufacturer.

Fertiliser producer Yara have produced a handy guide that can help you to find the spreader settings for the fertiliser spreader that you use: Spreader calibration – Yara.

The key elements to get right are: 

  • The spreader height from the ground
  • The angle at which the fertiliser hits the discs 
  • The flow rate.

To be sure that a spreader is set up correctly, a tray test can be carried out before working across the rest of the field.

Under Option 4, growers may be switching to coated urea from 1 April each year.

The required settings may be different to those for the uninhibited urea used prior to this date, so recalibration may need to take place prior to application.

More information on this topic can be found at: Option 4: Using Urea based Fertilisers after 1 April 2024

Urea application

Knowing how to properly apply urea fertiliser will help you to get as much benefit out of it as possible – be sure to consider these four factors: 

  • Crop requirement – Be sure to consider the needs of your crops and to provide additional nutrient when its demand is greatest.
  • Wind – The weather, and in particular wind, can have a significant impact on the success of a urea application. Strong winds will lead to an uneven spread of product across the field, whilst damp or humid conditions will affect the flow rate of the urea onto the discs.
  • Speed – Variations in speed will also affect the spread of urea across the field, so it is best to stick to a consistent speed.
  • Headlands – Don’t forget to account for headlands when working across the field, and pay particular attention to watercourses.


More on farm safety from NFUOnline:

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query someone from NFU CallFirst will contact you. If needed, your query will then be passed to the appropriate NFU policy team.

You have 0 characters remaining.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.