Agricultural vs Lawn Fertilizers

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by stahls2, Jan 10, 2002.

  1. stahls2

    stahls2 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    Has anyone used agricultural fertilizers before on lawns? I am able to get Ag. Fert. much cheaper and more of it per bag than other fertilizers. I know Ag. Fert is a quick release and regular fertilizers are slow release. I have heard that other LCO's use it in my area, however, I don't know if it is true. Any input greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,957

    .Big money saver

    Stahl2

    The biggest difference in agricultural fertilizer is the dust because of the use of off spec elements. Off spec elements have inpure additives that are inert and should not effect your plants-turf. Farmers use lots of fertilizer and need a better price so they use off spec elements in there blends. You still get all the elements that you pay for. Many agriculture fertilizer manufactures will mix the blend you want for turf or plants so long as you buy a ton (40- 50 lb bags)at a time. Slow release is also possible with agri blends. I use agricultural fertilizer and find it works well for me. A very popular fertilizer company that is right on every corner claims there fert is real clean and it is. But plants really do not care they live in dirt. Just be sure to use a dust mask when spreading any fertilizer. I am more than happy to use a dust mask when spreading agriculture fert because of the big cost saving. Also check agriculture supplier for chemicals at big saving but be sure they sell you horticultural label on these chemicals. Even though agri chems might be the same the EPA takes a grim look at misuse of the label.

    This is a great post because you have brought up a point that can save a lot of member a lot of money. I took a blend that I liked from a horticulture golf course supplier and ask my agriculture supplier to make it for me with a few changes. They liked the blend so much that it is now a standard blend for them.

    Try it! You will it, and the money you save
     
  3. greenngrow

    greenngrow LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 403

    Ric & Stahl2

    I am one of those fertilizer retailers. The only difference in Commerical and Ag grade fertilizer is the bag. Yes they claim to be free of dust. You let a bag of Lesco or Scotts lay around for a year or two and see what you get. The Fertilizer used by these guys and the Ag guys are the same. Depends on what quaility the Ag guy wants to put in his or her place. There are only about a handfull of companies out there selling to both markets.

    As for chemicals. No one should be going to Lesco. TOO HIGH and you can get the same products at AG Retail stores if you ask. You need to read the label.... Don't ever go off label BIG FINES.....

    One other thing that I have to ask??? Wearing of the mask. The fertilizer that I sell and use in the lawn care biz. I feel very safe and see no need for a mask. Now there are times when we are unloading big trucks and the fertilizer is dusty. I have used a mask. I have never seen the need or the precaution to use one when applying.

    I have responsed to several same post in the past. This is a good question. Everyone in the Pesticide biz needs to cut the cost where the can.
     
  4. stahls2

    stahls2 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    Thanks for the reply!!

    I figured Ag. Fert. and regular lawn fert. were the same, however, needed some reassurance before I applied it to my customers lawn.

    As for the dusk mask, I'll use it if needed. The savings would definitely out weigh wearing a hot dust mask.

    What do you guys mean the miss use or go off label?
    #1 Spraying too close to lakes, rivers, streams, etc.
    #2 Contaminating ground water.
    #3 Not following the safety precautions.
    Is this what you mean by the miss use of the label?

    Also, what is a good price for a 50lb. bag. I know this is a touchy subject, and I understand if you don't what to say.

    I will be paying approx. $2.00 per bag. Is this a good price?
     
  5. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,476

    Stahls2,

    OK, & I work for the "store on every corner" guys. Plants don't know the difference in the name on the bags or the actual nutrients if the "derived from" ingredients are the same...usualy.

    In a good turf blend, both the fines & the larger prills have been screened out prior to blending & packaging. The end result is much nicer to spread. I'm not saying this because I sell the stuff. They hired me because I've used it all. Some good. Some horrible. I've seen cigarette butts, washers, nuts, screws, poultry farm parts including corn, feathers, even a hole chicken (half plucked). Typical plant floor sweepings aren't too much to criticize in an AG grade fert, but half plucked dead chickens raised my temper.

    If none of these things bother you. Look at the % slow release & the overall salt index of the blend. If all else is equal, then check the coarser prills. If you're spreading a normal turf bled at 4-5 lbs/1000 (ie 20-25% N @ 1lb N/M) then the bigger prills may not be a problem. If the analysis is higher or if you plan to apply <.75Lbs/N/M then the big prills may be an issue. Speckling is real common on finer turf @ .5 lbs/N and less even with a good blend. A poor blend will be a disaster at these lower rates. I saw AG fert a few weeks ago where yhe urea & the filler was so coarse it couldn't get through the spreader holes.

    Fertilizer fines , such as is used on greens & tees is the way to go on short grass to avoid mower pickup or shattering. Mid-sized prills are common on turf cut between 1-2 inches, especially when using reels. Both of these are superior even to a good standard sized blend when low amounts of N are being applied. It's a function of the number of particles per sq ft.

    Large turf applications are frequently made with tractor spreaders such as Lely or Vicon. These babies spread 40 feet wide. Bulk density of the coarse & fine prills is so radically different that the particles segregate while you're spreading them. Not as big an issue with a small 6-8 foot spread, but a difference just the same.

    Hydro-seeders probably won't notice much of a difference since the muclh & the seed will keeps the mix bound together. Sort of. It depends a little on the angle the applicator uses. If the user knows how to spray seed, the rest should work too.

    Also, any combination (pesticide/fertilizer) is going to rely on good coverage. This is a real big deal with pre-emergence herbicides, & then some more than others. Some herbs. don't move off the prill very easily. Others don't even move off certain nutrients as readily as others. Ever wonder why there isn't much P in Dimension combination blends?

    Are we confused yet?

    Check with the fertilizer blender for specs on minimum prills per square foot. If they look at you like you've got 2 heads, it's probably because they don't know. Some Ag guys have no formal turf science education. Ask.

    With combo's it's easier. If the blender doesn't know or won't say, call the owner of the pesticide molecule (ie Merit is Bayer, Team is DOW, etc), & they will tell you. If the calculations don't work out, neither will the product.

    Bottmon line: I've got customers who buy this stuff in the last round to save money. But I don't recommend it at all during the rest of the year. There is too much at stake. Experiment on the lower profile jobs & the back 9 when in doubt. You may find something that works well for you at certain times of the year.

    But thats just my opinion & someone WILL disagree with me.

    Good Luck,
    Steve
     
  6. UrbanEarth

    UrbanEarth LawnSite Member
    Posts: 142

    Stahls2, reading the label is important to determine if the product (pesticides only) is registered for the use that you want. It is illegal to use an ag rated pesticide for a non ag application, even if the same pesticide is available for a non ag application. The ag formulation or concentration may be different, even though the active ingredient is the same. The two are NOT equal, and as Ric said, you are liable for big fines for misuse of products.

    An example if the above is as clear as mud. Chlorothalonil is available as Daconil and Bravo 500. Both products have the same active ingredient (Chlorothalonil), but Bravo 500 is ag rated, and Daconil is not. Bravo is also significantly cheaper, and I believe the concentration is higher. If you use Bravo on turf, you will be breaking the law, because the specific formulation for Bravo has not been registered for that use, although it is an almost identical product.

    Alan
     
  7. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,957

    Steve

    You miss a very good come back point. MOISTURE, fertilizer is hydrophilic therefore it must be protected from the elements. Here I will take my hat off to the boys on every corner. They ship in enclosed trailers and store in enclosed warehouses. Wet or moist fertilizer is not hard to spread it is impossible to spread.

    Trash in the fert bag is why good fertilizer spreader have a screen and this is not and issue.

    Particle size distribution of non homogeneous fertilizer should not be an issue since most of the member are using 50 to 100 lb spreaders. Particle size separation can in fact occur in the bag with very little vibration. Particle size distribution has a closer ratio in fertilizers that have been double or triple screened. The larger the container and the more vibration the more separation can effect response.

    Prill Size There are three sizes of fertilizer prill. Standard prill is the largest. As you have stated Steve the bigger the prill size the less number of prill to the sq ft. This can if fact lead to spotting in fine turf. Most of Lesco's lawn and ornamental blends are in fact standard prill (Large prill). Mini-prill is the medium size and elite prill is the Small size. Scotts fertilizer is elite prill.

    Prill size is very important when dealing with pesticides. Elite prill will give more uniform coverage by spreading more of the smaller size particles over a sq ft. The pound of product applied are if fact the same but because of the smaller particle size, distribution is more even. Sand compared to gravel.

    Homogeneous fertilizer means every individual prill is the same and has all the elements in it. This is the best fertilizer and generally is elite prill. Most of Scotts fertilizer is Homogeneous. Most pesticides blends are homogenous.

    Fertilizer is one of the least under stood products on the market today. With just a little study an informed consumer can save a lot of money. That same informed consumer can use his or her knowledge to increase there market share via word of mouth. Green health turf and ornamentals will do more for your business than any thing else. By using your knowledge the buy right and be able the apply at a profit. you also are advertising your work. If your customer has the best looking yard on the block they are less likely to complain when you miss weed eating the tree in the back yard. This is one learning curve that really pays off, so spend the time and study fertilizer so uneducated salesmen don't get you.
     
  8. stahls2

    stahls2 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    Everyone,

    Thank you for the education!!!!
     
  9. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,476

    Ric Said-
    Prill Size There are three sizes of fertilizer prill. Standard prill is the largest. As you have stated Steve the bigger the prill size the less number of prill to the sq ft. This can if fact lead to spotting in fine turf.

    Reply-
    LESCO standard- 90%pass Taylor6mesh retained on 16
    LESCO mini- -10+20 Taylor Mesh
    LESCO Elite (spec's not available at this time)

    Scotts standard- -6+14 but varies at times.
    Scotts mini- -10+25 Generally bigger than LESCO
    Scotts elite (spec's not available at this time)

    Summary: LESCO standard a little bigger than Scotts. Scotts Mini a little bigger than LESCO.
    Elite or fines- LESCO outperforms Scotts in the majority of mower pick-up tests on greens. I just don't have the sizing spec's to post at this time.
    __________________
    Ric said-
    Most of Lesco's lawn and ornamental blends are in fact standard prill (Large prill). Mini-prill is the medium size and elite prill is the Small size. Scotts fertilizer is elite prill.

    Reply-Both Scotts's & LESCO offer all three sizes. Acerage treated & targeted market determine overall sales by prill size.
    ____________________
    Ric Said-
    Prill size is very important when dealing with pesticides. Elite prill will give more uniform coverage by spreading more of the smaller size particles over a sq ft. The pound of product applied are if fact the same but because of the smaller particle size, distribution is more even. Sand compared to gravel.

    Reply- I agree.
    LESCO Mini delivers 3 times as many prills per square foot as Standard at the same weight.
    LESCO Elite delivers 3 times as many prills per square foot as Mini at the same weight.

    Scotts results would be similar though not the same. AG blends shouldn't even be compared as almost no effort is made to produce consistant results.
    __________________

    Ric Said-
    Homogeneous fertilizer means every individual prill is the same and has all the elements in it. Most of Scotts fertilizer is Homogeneous. Most pesticides blends are homogenous.

    Reply-Hogogeneous or ammoniated fertilizers are as close to homogenous as science currently allows, but there can be & sometimes are differences in the total N,P,&K in each. Prill-size has a lot to do with it. Bigger prills generally have more P. Smaller prills have more K. Homogenous fert's are the desired item on some vegetables. Turf grasses will never benefit one way or the other. Turf's extensive root system can absorb nutrients from an are 3" away from the crown. Not too tough for any fertilizer that has been applied properly. Larger prill sizes should not be applied at less than .5#/N/M. Smaller prills can be selected to the extent that the budget allows. In which case, liquid app's are even more desirable as they can be applied at ANY rate (allows for pesticide tank mixxes too).
    _________________
    Ric Said- Re homogeneous
    This is the best fertilizer and generally is elite prill.

    Reply- Depends on the crop-For turfgrass, the "best" fertilizer is the one that delivers all the objectives on the budget. Don't pay for more than is needed for the task at hand. Bulk blends are fine for turfgrasses.
    Homogeneous ferts are made from a slurry derived from ground ingredients. The larger the prill-the more time is required to "build" the prill. Large prills are not usually offered.
    High analysis fert's can't be offered in a true homogeneous blend because certain binding agents are required. These inerts take up weight/space in the bag.
    _________________
    Ric said-
    Most of Scotts fertilizer is Homogeneous.

    Reply- Scotts retail line is usually homgeneous.
    Their commercial line is usually bulk blended.
    Their golf line goes both ways.
    LESCO's commercial & retail lines are bulk blended in standard & mini.
    LESCO's golf line is mini for fairways & elite for greens & tees, just like everyone else. Both sizes can be had in blends or homogenous(NOVEX).
    __________________
    Ric said-
    Most pesticides blends are homogenous.

    Reply-All pesticide/fertilizer products that are made have the pesticide sprayed onto the prill after the fertilizer is blended. Homogeneous or blended, they all get sprayed on after the fert is done. Having the pesticide impregnated into a fertilizer prill is completely unnecesary & if this could be achieved, would probably hinder efficacy more than help.
    Blended pesticide combo's outsell homogeneous combo's in golf & commercial turf by a massive margin.
    ________________
    Fertilizer is one of the least under stood products on the market today.
    With just a little study an informed consumer can save a lot of money. That same informed consumer can use his or her knowledge to increase there market share via word of mouth. Green health turf and ornamentals will do more for your business than any thing else. By using your knowledge the buy right and be able the apply at a profit.
    you also are advertising your work. If your customer has the best looking yard on the block they are less likely to complain when you miss weed eating the tree in the back yard. This is one learning curve that really pays off, so spend the time and study fertilizer so uneducated salesmen don't get you.

    Reply- Truer words not often spoken!
     
  10. greenngrow

    greenngrow LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 403

    Hey Tremor,

    You have explained all about prilled urea or nitrogen what about Granular urea???

    Did not know you were a Lesco guy?
     

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