Community Q+A on Fertilisers

Posted by Mark Wilton on

This blog is based on over 20 questions asked by the TurfCareBlog community during a TurfChat Evening.Community Q+A answered by Mark Wilton shop partner.

What’s Marks thoughts on applying Fertiliser before or after pre-season, is it wasted if applied just before?

I'm guessing you are referring to cricket? If the plant looks hungry, then I would recommend feeding. Main thing to remember is little and often is the best practice.

How much does frost affect fertiliser that has already been applied?

Once applied frost won't be a problem, don't apply fertiliser though in frosty conditions for risk of scorching the plant.

A question more about Autumn - With persistently wet Autumns seemingly the norm now causing slow germination, any suggestions what treatment could we could apply?

Difficult one this. we need moisture, not too much of course, and warmth for seed to germinate, best advice is don’t seed too late in the season, mid-September ideally.

Mark do you like half rate feeding as ensure a more even growth pattern?

If you are going to reduce the fertiliser application by half, then make sure you use a quality homogeneous fertiliser and not a blend.

What does Homogenous fertilisers?

A homogenous fertiliser is a product that all the granules contain the same nutrients.

Why are different brands of fertilisers of the same makeup so differently priced as they all come from the same place? 

Does it simply come down to quality of ingredients?

Quality is the name of the game here. Yes, they all contain nutrients such as N(nitrogen), P(phosphorous) and K(potassium) but it is the way they are manufactured that makes the difference. Prices are down to the individual companies

Using a slow-release liquid feed, 46-0-0 for example is the nitrogen fixed within the grass plant roots or in the soil, making it available as it goes through the nitrification?

A slow-release liquid is usually based around methylene urea, so for the plant to obtain the nutrients the soil microbes will have to breakdown this long chain molecule to convert the product into nitrate.

With clubs like us with poor irrigation granular is a problem in season, while liquid is a solution. Are there any finer granulars that would absorb more easily or is it a case of just sticking to liquid?

I do supply micro granular formulations of fine turf fertilisers, little more money, but this will help your situation.

Mark, with the use of soil conditioners as worm control becoming regular, what is the potential impact on the soil and grass? 

Can these be over used, and how does a volunteer or club groundsman gauge this?

Good question. Being that these products are 100% of natural origin, apart from a very slow increase perhaps of organic matter, can't really see a problem. When you think was applied in the past, chlordane, mercury and the likes

Hi Mark. I like the idea of liquid feeds, but longevity is always a concern. Apart from not cutting! what else could help?

You could revert to a slow-release liquid which would help, but be careful how you use them!

Hey mark, what is generally considered fertilizing too often?

Depends how often is often and how much fertiliser are going down at the time. I have premier clubs who feed every two weeks, and some golf courses that feed just twice a year.

Mark if I wanted to apply a summer fertiliser on square, I assume liquid would be best?

I prefer granular feeds, my advice during the season, once the strip has been used and ready for recovery, just one pass with a mini or micro granular fertiliser is fine, you can of course use a liquid but it is more hassle I feel.

What soil temperature do we need for a granular to be up taken by the roots?

Ideally around 5 -8 degrees soil temperatures.

Is this the main reason in winter we put on a granular but often don’t get any results from feed?

To answer your question, if the soil temp is below 5 degrees C, the grass plant will go into slight dormancy so the uptake from fertilisers will be very slow.

How effective are granular weed and feed type products? (Cleanrun pro etc)?

Pretty good. Great if you want a 'clean up' say of the outfield. I've used both Renovator and Cleanrun in the past, but to be honest, liquid selectives are the best and cheaper.

What’s your thoughts on wetting agent use on a cricket square for a club with poor irrigation?

Be careful with over doing with wetting agents, especially so on clay soils where you are looking for pace. Wetters if overused could possibly cause the soil to go plasticky, this is obviously if you over use them. On sandy soils no problem i.e., golf etc.

Most wetting agents are non-ionic, so much better and ideal for clay soils.

What are ionic wetting agents?

Generally in our industry, there are two types of surfactants (surface active agent), anionic and nonionic. This is a very complex subject, and the chemistry is based around negatively and positively charged ions. In a nutshell, anionic surfactants are used as spreading agents, aiding the spread of water, downside are the ions react with other ions to cause foaming. Nonionic surfactants on the other hand do not react with other ions so do not form Insoluble salts. Not sure if that answers your question! Just use nonionic wetters when trying to alleviate hydrophobic soils.

We have quite a wet square especially in winter and at times can’t get on it for months. The grass yellows off badly, we’ve been recommended a slow-release fertiliser with 5-month release period but made for rugby pitches?

Is there any reason you wouldn’t apply it to a cricket square?

Slow release fertilisers used on winter sports such as rugby, have a larger granule size (approx 2-3mm), so not a problem where the grass cutting height is greater than 25mm, not so good if you are cutting at lower levels due to mower pick-up. Potentially you could use during the winter period as you are not cutting so low, alternatively you can purchase in a smaller granule size.

What is leaching?

Leaching is when a substance ie in our case fertiliser, transports through the soil without the plant having the full benefit of the nutrients. Leaching is a big concern for water courses and the environment as a whole. Leaching occurs most often with agricultural type fertilisers, over irrigation and sandy soils.

If fertiliser granular gets crushed how does this effect?

If the fertiliser gets crushed, then if conditions remain dry then scorching could be a problem. If you were using a controlled release feed the outer coating would be damaged leading to over fertilising.

When would a Groundsmen know when to switch from autumn granular fertiliser to spring/summer higher nitrogen feeds?

think you generally get a feel when spring is on its way. Once mowing starts on a more regular basis then that's the time

What's the advantages in using organic fertiliser on a cricket square?

No real advantages Chris, unless you are opposed to chemical fertilisers. Organics will take longer to become available to the plant, so that could be a disadvantage if you are looking for quick recovery.

How often would you get your soil analysed Mark, and ball park costs?

No more than once a year, and the best time is Jan/Feb when nutrient levels will be at their lowest. Cost wise circa £28.00 per sample



PS- Thank you to the TurfCareBlog community for some of the images 

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