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quiet
12-28-2004, 10:07 PM
I've been in discusssions about my spring fertilizer purchase, and one supplier suggested the following custom blend:

25% Ammonium Sulfate
25% Methylene Urea
50% Biosolids
10% Sulfur

I Know - that's 110%!

Soil analyses are all very similar. Here's a recent one:
ph = 8.0
Phosporus - 47 ppm - High
Potassium - 192 ppm - High
Calcium - 64356 ppm - Very High
Mn - 683 - high
Salinity - 266 - none
Zinc - 2.55 - High
Iron - 6.30 - High
Mg - 4.07 - High
Sodium - 372 - Low
Sulphur - 98 - High

The fertilizer works out to a 16-2-0 analysis. Cost is high = $1.96/MSF

I'm a little wary about no K at all for summer heat stress . . . and it gets hot here in Central TX.

But it sounds like a pretty good mix for my area. Opinions?

Dchall_San_Antonio
01-11-2005, 12:31 PM
Except for the fact that your first three ingredients are not approved for organic growing, and this is an organic forum, it looks good. And I would never suggest anyone use sulfur on a yard, so that about covers the entire recipe.

Here's a good organic recipe:
50% ground grains (corn, soy, cottonseed, flax, coffee, etc.)
45% feather meal
5% blood meal

Cost for this should be about $1.86/msf if you shop wisely.

timturf
01-11-2005, 05:18 PM
what would the analysis of the fert be in your mix?

woodycrest
01-11-2005, 10:20 PM
This is the analysis...:)
50% ground grains (corn, soy, cottonseed, flax, coffee, etc.)
45% feather meal
5% blood meal

Dchall_San_Antonio
01-12-2005, 01:15 AM
Somewhere I mentioned that in order to "go organic" you have to forget a lot of what you already know about gardening. If I didn't mention it here, maybe I forgot. Anyway traditional fertilizer analysis is one of the things that doesn't really apply any more. Here's why.

The soil has two types of materials in it. One type of material is readily available to the plants as nutrients. The other type of constituants are not available. As an example ferric iron is not available while ferrous iron is. When traditional soil tests are done, they dissolve the entire soil in hydrochloric acid to determine what was in it. As you probably already can see, after the harsh acid dissolves it all, there is no way to determine whether the original minerals were in the available form or not.

The soil microbes generate carbon dioxide during their normal metabolism just like we do. For these creatures underground, the CO2 stays there. When the CO2 meets wet soil particles, dilute carbonic acid forms. That acid is identical to soda water you get in your Coke at the local fountain. It is fairly weak but there is a steady supply of it.

I think I'm getting to a point here :waving: Have your eyes glazed over yet? The point is that traditional NPK analysis of the soil does not take into account the fact that the minerals might not be available to the plants. NOR does the traditional test take into account that the microbes will help to dissolve some, but not all, of the unavailable minerals. The additional point is that no matter what the NPK is of any fertilizer you apply, the microbes are going to eat it and do their thing with the available minerals in the soil. Remember that Mother Nature did this for 4 billion years before we came along to help things out. She managed to grow huge redwood and rain forests as well as huge prairies that supported millions of pounds of animals.

This is another of the conundrums of going organic in this profession. By law you are required to use only materials meeting certain standards. The reason for this is so that the fly-by-nights don't come in and charge you $50 to apply tap water. I fully understand that. But how does the pro trying to help out with an organic program apply soy meal for example? Each state is a little different in what they require on the bags, but it seems that as soon as the formal analysis goes on the side of the bag, the price goes up 10x. When you look at the tag on a bag of corn meal, it tells you what's in the bag. That should be good enough for the state.

Having said all that, here is a link (http://www.primalseeds.org/npk.htm) to figure out the NPK using nearly any organic material. Unfortunately the NPK varies slightly with the quality of organic materials, so nothing is really certain in organic fertilizers.

With organic there is another important point to make. Some organic protein sources release their protein much faster than others. Blood meal simply dissolves as fast as it gets wet while the digestion and conversion of feather meal to protein is measured in calendar months. Hence the proportions I suggest in my recipe.

timturf
01-12-2005, 10:57 AM
Well,

the anaylsis doesn't matter! I know what the plant needs, and I want to know what I'm applying to meet those needs! SO THE ANAYLSIS DOES MATTER!! What is the anaylsis of the mix in % of n, p, and k?

Turfgrass has it's needs, but their not the same as tomatoes or carrots!

dishboy
01-12-2005, 11:52 AM
Depends on the grain of choice you choose for the first 50%. He gave you the link .....do the math.
Although Primal does not list NPK for Soy so you won't know unless somebody has that info.
Soy is a little over 7% N I believe but I have not found P or K numbers. Protein divided by 6.25 will give you N content of grains.

Dchall_San_Antonio
01-12-2005, 01:12 PM
Well,
the anaylsis doesn't matter! I know what the plant needs, and I want to know what I'm applying to meet those needs! SO THE ANAYLSIS DOES MATTER!! What is the anaylsis of the mix in % of n, p, and k?

Turfgrass has it's needs, but their not the same as tomatoes or carrots!Interestingly, in the organic garden forums and lists I deal with, the application rate of 10-20 pounds of grain (or beans or nuts) per 1,000 square feet applies to turf, trees, ornamentals, and edibles. When you feed protein to the soil surface microbes, they and their waste materials feed the rest of the microbes. Then whatever plants you have get whatever they need from the microbial food chain within the soil. The rate that the plants get any of their 15 different nutritional needs is determined underground at the plant's roots by the symbiotic relationship between plant roots and microbes.

However I'm absolutely NOT dismissing your statement. The scientific understanding of these organic soil microbes is in its infancy. We very well could find out in a few years that there are different needs for the different plants. Currently the state of the organic art says you stick with that one application rate and adjust from there if you think you need to. So the analysis doesn't seem to matter now but it may in the future.

Again along the lines of not dismissing your statement, if you are growing in pure silica sand, you have to add mineral to the sand or you don't do so well. The mineral might include P and K but N in organic soils still comes from the digestion and rotting of protein including that from formerly living microbes. You can find organic P and K sources in that same link I gave before. Notice that ashes from almost anything provide lots of concentrated P. I'm not sure what the application rate would be to use them straight out of the fireplace but maybe someone else will have that. If you are not growing in pure silica, the common organic gardeners are dispensing with soil testing and using organic fertilizers at the one rate - actually a range of rates between 10 and 20 pounds. When I apply 10 pounds per 1,000 I simply cannot believe it will do anything so I lean toward 20 pounds on my personal lawn. But too many people tell me that 10 pounds works fine, so there you are. And I know from unfortunate experience that you need at least 20 pounds of corn meal to have any effect on an active fungal disease.

And I may have been optimistic in suggesting that feather meal rots away in a matter of a few months. It is more like a few seasons. Same with hair.

Well I just remembered that I had the NPK stuff on my Excel. Let's say you take equal amounts of corn, feather, blood, and cottonseed meals and mix them together. Then take 10 pounds of that and you will have 3.4-0.45-0.26 POUNDS of NPK. But what does that mean? For example 1.5 pounds of the N is blood meal which is available immediately to the plants. Another 1.5 pounds is feather meal which will be available when the glaciers return to Texas. The rest is grains which is available in 3 weeks and will be available until the feathers start to decompose. The point of my fertilizer mix is to provide a little protein now but not enough to burn, then the intermediate protein kicks in, and then the long term protein kicks in in a few months. This idea of timed release of organic fertilzer introduces a whole different concept into the NPK calculations. I'm an engineer and I have trouble getting a mathematical handle on the timed release concept. So I just forget about it, apply the stuff, and trust that the microbes and plants can handle it from there.

Organic fertilizer are commonly thought of as 'slow release.' Well blood certainly isn't slow. Neither is synthetic urea. So that's why the organic fertilizer companies don't use much blood (and artificial urea is banned). The only reason this slow release myth is out there is because the organic baggers do not use the hot stuff or have learned to use it in moderation (like my recipe).

timturf
01-12-2005, 01:41 PM
Interestingly, in the organic garden forums and lists I deal with, the application rate of 10-20 pounds of grain (or beans or nuts) per 1,000 square feet applies to turf, trees, ornamentals, and edibles. When you feed protein to the soil surface microbes, they and their waste materials feed the rest of the microbes. Then whatever plants you have get whatever they need from the microbial food chain within the soil. The rate that the plants get any of their 15 different nutritional needs is determined underground at the plant's roots by the symbiotic relationship between plant roots and microbes.

However I'm absolutely NOT dismissing your statement. The scientific understanding of these organic soil microbes is in its infancy. We very well could find out in a few years that there are different needs for the different plants. Currently the state of the organic art says you stick with that one application rate and adjust from there if you think you need to. So the analysis doesn't seem to matter now but it may in the future.

Again along the lines of not dismissing your statement, if you are growing in pure silica sand, you have to add mineral to the sand or you don't do so well. The mineral might include P and K but N in organic soils still comes from the digestion and rotting of protein including that from formerly living microbes. You can find organic P and K sources in that same link I gave before. Notice that ashes from almost anything provide lots of concentrated P. I'm not sure what the application rate would be to use them straight out of the fireplace but maybe someone else will have that. If you are not growing in pure silica, the common organic gardeners are dispensing with soil testing and using organic fertilizers at the one rate - actually a range of rates between 10 and 20 pounds. When I apply 10 pounds per 1,000 I simply cannot believe it will do anything so I lean toward 20 pounds on my personal lawn. But too many people tell me that 10 pounds works fine, so there you are. And I know from unfortunate experience that you need at least 20 pounds of corn meal to have any effect on an active fungal disease.

And I may have been optimistic in suggesting that feather meal rots away in a matter of a few months. It is more like a few seasons. Same with hair.

Well I just remembered that I had the NPK stuff on my Excel. Let's say you take equal amounts of corn, feather, blood, and cottonseed meals and mix them together. Then take 10 pounds of that and you will have 3.4-0.45-0.26 POUNDS of NPK. But what does that mean? For example 1.5 pounds of the N is blood meal which is available immediately to the plants. Another 1.5 pounds is feather meal which will be available when the glaciers return to Texas. The rest is grains which is available in 3 weeks and will be available until the feathers start to decompose. The point of my fertilizer mix is to provide a little protein now but not enough to burn, then the intermediate protein kicks in, and then the long term protein kicks in in a few months. This idea of timed release of organic fertilzer introduces a whole different concept into the NPK calculations. I'm an engineer and I have trouble getting a mathematical handle on the timed release concept. So I just forget about it, apply the stuff, and trust that the microbes and plants can handle it from there.

Organic fertilizer are commonly thought of as 'slow release.' Well blood certainly isn't slow. Neither is synthetic urea. So that's why the organic fertilizer companies don't use much blood (and artificial urea is banned). The only reason this slow release myth is out there is because the organic baggers do not use the hot stuff or have learned to use it in moderation (like my recipe).

We already know that their are differewnt needs for different plants!

I believe that ashes contain potash, not phosphours!

So, ten lbs of an equal mix of your fert will give .34lbs of n/m, .045lbs of p/m, and .026lbs of k/m. That mix will not even come close to delivering enough k for turfgrass!

dishboy
01-12-2005, 02:05 PM
I have a question concerning Organics, please bear with my ignorance, is the P and K that is in a feed, say alfalfa which Primal seeds lists at 2.45- .5- 2.10 available to plants immediately [or at least when it reaches root zones], or does it have to be processed by microbes as does organic sources of N to become available for plant use?

If organic forms of P & K have to be processed by microbes to become available to plants what happens when soil temps drop and microbe activity slows way down, is the P & K still available in amounts the plants need, particularly if a non organic source of N is added for fall\winter color and root growth?

Dchall_San_Antonio
01-13-2005, 01:07 AM
We already know that their are differewnt needs for different plants!Which is one reason that I continue to say, "With organics you have to forget a lot of what you learned about gardening." All I'm saying is the one rate of application seems to work for all garden applications. And I also continue to say, "organic gardening is much less hassle than chemical," simply because of these little subtle differences.

I believe that ashes contain potash, not phosphours!You're right. Sorry for any confusion.

So, ten lbs of an equal mix of your fert will give .34lbs of n/m, .045lbs of p/m, and .026lbs of k/m. That mix will not even come close to delivering enough k for turfgrass!Once again you are simplifying the soil plant interactions to a chemistry situation. The soil is not a sterile test tube and any attempt to treat it like one will give you an answer you can't explain. Soil is biologically active, alive, in a state of continual change, death and renewal, fraught with microbial peril. This chemically inadequate mix of fertilizer grows trees, shrubs, edibles, and grass. How? Microbes find all the necessary nutrients in the soil minerals and deliver it to the plant at the roots.

timturf I can't help but think you have a pearl of wisdom you are withholding from us that answers all your own questions. May I ask where are you going with your post by post disagreement in an organic lawn care program? If you are skeptical and you have not already tried organics, please try it on your own lawn. If you don't have corn meal on hand, try wheat. Or grind up some dog food into dust and sprinkle it at 10 pounds per 1,000 and see if your grass doesn't look good. Then sneak some out into a field where nobody takes care of the turf and scatter some there. You shouldn't have to mark it off but you may as well so you know where to look later. And I suggest you do it today in the dead of winter so you can watch your test spots throughout the four seasons. Then you can come back in a year and say, "Dang! I know I didn't apply enough K. Where'd all that K come from?"

timturf
01-13-2005, 09:29 AM
Which is one reason that I continue to say, "With organics you have to forget a lot of what you learned about gardening." All I'm saying is the one rate of application seems to work for all garden applications. And I also continue to say, "organic gardening is much less hassle than chemical," simply because of these little subtle differences.

You're right. Sorry for any confusion.

Once again you are simplifying the soil plant interactions to a chemistry situation. The soil is not a sterile test tube and any attempt to treat it like one will give you an answer you can't explain. Soil is biologically active, alive, in a state of continual change, death and renewal, fraught with microbial peril. This chemically inadequate mix of fertilizer grows trees, shrubs, edibles, and grass.

How? Microbes find all the necessary nutrients in the soil minerals and deliver it to the plant at the roots.

timturf I can't help but think you have a pearl of wisdom you are withholding from us that answers all your own questions. May I ask where are you going with your post by post disagreement in an organic lawn care program? If you are skeptical and you have not already tried organics, please try it on your own lawn. If you don't have corn meal on hand, try wheat. Or grind up some dog food into dust and sprinkle it at 10 pounds per 1,000 and see if your grass doesn't look good. Then sneak some out into a field where nobody takes care of the turf and scatter some there. You shouldn't have to mark it off but you may as well so you know where to look later. And I suggest you do it today in the dead of winter so you can watch your test spots throughout the four seasons. Then you can come back in a year and say, "Dang! I know I didn't apply enough K. Where'd all that K come from?"

DAVID,

You stated that microbes find all the necesarry nutrients in the soil minerals, and deliver it to the plant at the roots. SO, how do the nutrients get into the soil? By fertilizer OF COURSE , either sythetic or organic. Again, not all plants need the same ratio of n-p-k for best growth. Even you can check some of the organic supply houses that sell organic fert, and see that they have different products for different plants

My fertilizer program for turfgrass consist of 52% organic, (from a source once living) and the balance of sythetic fert ( sop, many claim to be natural) to have a very low salt index, some of the sythetic products salt index is lower than organic! Imn one of my organic soils books, states that most organic farms will use any organic or sythetic fertilizer as long as it will not hurt the microbes! This is the principle that I believe and follow!

Dchall_San_Antonio
01-14-2005, 09:08 PM
DAVID,
You stated that microbes find all the necesarry nutrients in the soil minerals, and deliver it to the plant at the roots. SO, how do the nutrients get into the soil? By fertilizer OF COURSE , either sythetic or organic. Sorry to interrupt your thought here, but what was the fertilizer used to grow the redwoods? It was basically dead animals and plants. That's what organic fertilizer is - dead stuff. Beyond that, it was minerals in the soil. The dead animals where the forest grew were basically the same as the dead animals out on the prairie where not much besides grass grew. I'm not trying to cut off your thinking on this. If you can explain to me how the organic fertilizers differ from plant to plant, I'm listening.

Again, not all plants need the same ratio of n-p-k for best growth. Even you can check some of the organic supply houses that sell organic fert, and see that they have different products for different plants And again, the plants work that out with the microbes by excreting sugars. But look at the ingredients on the different designer organic fertilizers. It kinda cracks me up that you can put the same product into different bags to compete with yourself. Look at the ingredients and you'll find they are the same and in the same order. If any are different or in a different order, it's not by much. Sometimes a company take one product and add chemicals like potassium sulfate or one of the other apparently organic-approved chemicals. I would not use anything with a sulfate in my program but some of them are certainly "legal" in an organic program. I don't like them because too many kill too many fungi.

My fertilizer program for turfgrass consist of 52% organic, (from a source once living) and the balance of sythetic fert ( sop, many claim to be natural) to have a very low salt index, some of the sythetic products salt index is lower than organic! Imn one of my organic soils books, states that most organic farms will use any organic or sythetic fertilizer as long as it will not hurt the microbes! This is the principle that I believe and follow! I don't know when your books were written but now that the organic standards have been blessed by the government, the truly organic farms are regulated in what they may use. But organic farms are not client turf, so you have to put together your own program that works for both you and your clients.

timturf
01-19-2005, 10:29 PM
david,

I guess we will have to agree to disagree!


Shortly I will post more on this subject, you got me re readings some organic soils books!
tim