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Athletic Field Help... Fertilizer

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by grassguy123, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,214

    As alluded to, the TYPE of fertilizer isn't nearly so important as the QUANTITY.

    And high N is crucial for a playing field. There's no compensation for the wear-and-tear other than to empower the grass to regrow the damaged turf as quickly as possible. Excessive topgrowth is key to a well-used sports field's vitality.
  2. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Posts: 5,859

    Good point whoopass - I think that's what Dr. Minner at ISU found out in his research. Dr. Minner also suggests 'natural organic' fertilizer as part of their athletic field program to attain a total of 13 pounds of N, plus aerating 3 times a year if possible. Also - They often incorporate small rubber plugs (from recycled car tires).

    Regarding runoff: Virtually none, cuz the fields are pretty much flat. (soccer, baseball, and practice football fields).

    That's all I know for sure, but most crucial is to mow often with sharp blades, and try to mow when the turf is not wet.
  3. Mscotrid

    Mscotrid LawnSite Bronze Member
    from USA
    Posts: 1,456

    Your right, call it an educated guess. But your accusation is pretty harsh for not knowing what I base my information on. Those analysis he stated are Lesco's products, once again a guess but I have used their products for almost 20+ years. Based on that the 24 would go down on average 12k per bag which is a 1lb actual N. If he is applying heavier than he is wasting money and should jump to a higher analysis. The 19-0-6 tends to be a Dimension AI based analysis whichj would be controlled by the active once again about .75N . He stated he didn't do a summer fert but came back with 24-0-11 in the fall. granted I'm assuming the same spread rate based on the analysis 12K=1LbN actual.

    That is where I get my 2.75lb N. So yes I did take a WAG at it...
  4. raels lawn

    raels lawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 1

    Athletic turf is not like residential. Proper management includes a viable fertilizer program built aroud the budget you will be able to operate with. Excessive growth comes from over-feeding. You can spoon feed low-cut sports turf and maintain good cultural practices like watering and aerating with topdressing and overseeding. You need to better establish a deep and penetrating root system to handle the wear and tear. Growth regulators help to slow vertical growth but allow for lateral root growth.
  5. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,939

    Some thoughts:
    I don’t care how many letters and periods you have after your name, 13# N is crazy on cool season turf.

    Based on the program grassguy123 described, I would consider changing it as follows for next year and would expect to have to tweak it again the following year based on results, a soil test, and the weather:
    • eliminate the early spring fertilizer altogether. I almost never put any fertilizer down until mid-May. Sometimes the crabgrass per-emergent comes packaged with fertilizer. Although this provides a nice color boost it causes a lot of excess growth and extra mowing, making clippings hard to manage.
    • spray for broadleaf (not sure if a combo product is currently being used) and use a granular fertilizer with high percentage of slow release material at 1.3 – 1.5 # N/M
    • eliminate any summer fertilizer except on fields that have games before Labor Day, for those use an organic at around .75 # N/M
    • Between a week before and a week after Labor Day, depending on weather and especially the field practice schedule, use a combination mineral fertilizers where total N and K are in a 1:1 ratio. 1 #/M of each is what I use, with no P. It is my belief that this is the application your field uses/loses/expends on recovery during the fall sports season. In my experience, if you do not have this in place you will be behind the eight ball the rest of the season.
    • There are many good choices for Fall: Urea, Ammonium Sulfate, or any of several balanced mineral fertilizers. If I get a good buy on it I will use slow release products too. You have to work with what you know about how your fields respond and how they are used. I put down 1# N at a minimum in late September and another whenever possible in late October. I want that one becoming available to the plant after top growth has slowed way down. This largely determines your density and color next spring without having you be unable to keep up with mowing right out of the gate next year.

    I think Lawnsite is a good place for advice. I have given and received good advice here. The exchange of ideas is good but you have to make up your own mind, just as do when considering university recommendations.

    No, it is not healthy to chop grass from 7-10” to 3 ½ every week. It needs to be slowed down and mowed more often. I tell places with practically no budget they can still make their field look and perform a heck of a lot better by mowing more often and in different directions. No less than three times per week here from late April-June 1, twice a week June 1-Aug 15, then back to at least three times a week into mid-October, then as needed. There is one soccer field where I control everything but painting lines: irrigation, chemicals and fertilizer, mowing, cultural practices. In season it gets mowed every 48 hours or before every game, which ever interval is shortest. It usually gets double cut once every 7-10 days. I am at 2 3/16” and it never sees 3” in season. I would go a little higher on a practice field.

    I agree the quantity of fertilizer is important. Timing and type are important too. It is a whole picture kind of thing including type of use, weather, cultural practices, turf variety, soil, and many other factors.

    Preventing damage is as important and useful as recovering from it.

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