View Full Version : Organic's, and Nitrogen needs

Shady Brook
03-15-2004, 11:22 AM
I am going to offer some organic alternatives to my customers this year. I have read where organics require less Nitrogen then most common programs. This makes sense, seeing how before folks were fertilizing their lawns, the natural growth process of grass growing, being cut, or dying kept the plant alive.

In my region I shoot for about 4lb's N in my sunny lawns per year, with a bit less for those in shady areas.

Any suggestions on amounts of N to use when using Organics? I assume that over time, the longer you use the Organics, the less product you will need, at least within reason?

I will likely be using pre-packaged products to begin with, with some experimentation. Any thoughts on Earthworks products, or the Sustane products would be appreciated.

Thanks a bunch

03-18-2004, 11:31 AM
Was located in N Ill and C Ill as gc supt, and I think 3 lbs n/m is adequate their if clipping are returned and you use fert with high % of slow release n. I believe the statement that you need less n using organics is only true if your sythetic program uses a lot of quick release nitrogen.

earthworks is a great product, sustane is very good along with others.

Watch the p levels in an organic program, can be too high, and you need to add potash, hopefully sulfate.

Shady Brook
03-20-2004, 01:12 AM
Thanks so much Tim for your contributions to my questions, it is appreciated.

Take care

03-24-2004, 01:10 PM
I don't know that you use any less N. The NPK numbers are much lower on organic fertilizers but you end up using a lot more poundage of organics to make up for it.

For example if you wanted to try to fertilize with compost, it takes about 800 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Whereas it takes only a few pounds of Lesco.

03-28-2004, 12:32 PM
I respectfully disagee. I have for 6 years now cut my nitrogen imputs to below 3 lb n per season on " sunny" area's" and 2 lb on shade. with by the way a noticible improvement in turf quality.
see POMAR posts.
And have done so on a commercial basis while being able to compete with the Trugreen's of the world.
oh yes..... other bonuses along way..... Disease issues... surpressed. Color between applications...... consistant. Cost..... no more than synthetic programs... pesticide use.... reduced substantially...... and most importantly Customer satisfaction Incredible! Customer retention rate 90+ %. with bad help in competitive markets.

03-28-2004, 12:42 PM
Well said, ChickensDoo!!

customer satisfaction is the most important part of any program

03-28-2004, 12:51 PM
My season is a little longer than yours, not much, and I use 3 to 3.25 lbsN/m per season, when clippings are returned, using a high % slow release sythetic nitrogen sources!

03-29-2004, 11:21 PM
Timturf, Let me make several observations.please respond.
1. what would the win % be of your slow release source? also given the choice of either your slow release synthetic or an organic formulation containing a higher win %, and cost were the same, which would you choose?
2.what biological benifit are you getting from the synthetic source? how much organic matter can you apply with it? what is the carbon to nitrogen ratio?
3.do you see any type of desiease surpression characteristics from this source?
4. additional factors to consider irrigation, mowing height, aeration( as i recall you maintain golf course?) you have control of many of the cultural practices. how did your fescue/ bermuda stand hold up to the brown patch?
5. Acceptable turf conditions for golf course fairways vary greatly depending on course/ budget. homeowners all want kingsmill conditions without a fraction of the budget.
and LCO companies are handicapped often by the homeowners poor cultural practices.
6.from experience with most if not all synthetic n sources, i will choose a product with an organic base. If slow release N is the question, name a better slow release source than an organic?

I am not trying to be anti synthetic, far from it. all tools at our disposal are valuable in time of need. but this thread was about organic's and nitrogen needs.
several things that you mentioned i concur with, sustane and earthworks, are both good products, can you tell us why?
what about Harmony, naturesafe, how are they different than sustane?
give me an Organic, you take the synthetic slow release product do a side by side, I will grow a higher quality turf.

Shady Brook
03-30-2004, 12:38 AM

I would be very interested to hear more of your thoughts on this subject. Please, if you are inclined share more of your theory, experiences, and practices in the organic field when you have opportunity to do so.


Shady Brook
03-30-2004, 09:02 AM
To me it makes sense that Nitrogen requirements would be less for a lawn maintained with Organics, and possibly with some high grade slow release synthetics. It seems to me that you would need less due to more efficient uptake. Perhaps you have a greater likelyhood that the Nitrogen put down would actually be used by the plant.

It is also my understanding that to apply much Nitrogen in the early spring will cause a depletion of carbs stored in the roots due to the need to keep up with the surge growth from the N. Now if this occurs in the Spring, why would this not be a characteristic of growth in other applications? What I mean is, if you have N feeding the plant in the form of Urea for example, and the amount you give the plant is greater then that plant needs at a given time to sustain the growth that suits the plant best, are we depleteing the carb stores, and wasteing our money on un needed Nitrogen? I don't know about this, but it makes sense.

Seems like something that feeds the right amount consistantly will be less likely to go to waste, and feed in a natural manner, not like "steroids" in a human promoteing growth we don't need, or want, and thus reducing Nitrogen needs to maintain a healthy plant.

Just some thoughts.


03-30-2004, 10:40 AM
I will reply later, and these are good points to discuss

Input from anybody else? Heritage

03-30-2004, 11:26 AM
tHe more i read the threads on here, the more it seems our time is spent comparing synthetic to organic.

Seems to me concentrating on the organic approach might be more effective...i mean there is a another forum for Pesticide & Fertilizer Application ....dont see many posts there about organic.

Chickensdoo made a comment about the consitistency of color between applications . if higher nitrogen makes the grass 'greener', then
IT follows that a consistent level of slow release nitrogen (organic fert) will yield a consistent color. so the grass plant utilizes nitrogen as it is required by the plant, not at a 'prescribed' rate determined by the applicator.

03-31-2004, 12:08 AM
Ah...... Shady brook, you are wise grasshopper. your theory on cmmonsense approach is right on target.
why apply nitrogen inefficently? organic matter supplements and microbial activity are far more efficent.
Feed the soil, let the soil feed the plant.

03-31-2004, 12:24 AM
woodycrest, i agree with you about the constant debate between synthetic's and organics.
However i encourage it, i always remember my father telling me that the day i stop learning, is the day they bury me.
So i try to look for the lesson in a debate, rather than argue a point. I always take something away from a discussion.
Organic's by nature create a debate with most turfgrass managers. Simply based upon how little actual time is spent on Organics @ the university level. We have all been schooled on N.P.& K. as THE Benchmarks of a fertility program.
soil chemistry rather than soil biology.
Now after many years of hands on practical experience, my opinion is to balance both.
modern technology and organics combine to provide healthy turf with less overall chemical use required. Is that not what we are all looking to achive?
Food for thought.