Fertilization Program Review

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by SystemXpert, Sep 24, 2004.

  1. SystemXpert

    SystemXpert LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    After much research and adjustments I would like to present the following program for review by the experts.

    The lawn is Fescue and is located in the Upstate of South Carolina. Now this is in the transition zone, BUT the upstate area is located in the north west corner of the state. We have some on unusual weather patterns caused by our close proximity to the Mountains. We have a long growing season, also a colder winter than most of southern states. My point is don't assume because its SC it can be grouped in with GA, AL, & FL.

    1. Sept. - Overseed + Aeration
    Lesco Transitional Blend Fescue Seed
    Dolomite Lime - 10lbs/1000ft (Based on Soil Test)
    Lesco PolyVex 13-24-13 36% TCRN 5lbs/1000ft (.7N)
    Milorganite 6-2-0 8lbs/1000ft (.5N)

    2. Oct - Fall Turfbuilding (4-6 weeks after Seeding)
    Lesco PolyVex 13-24-13 36% TCRN 5lbs/1000ft (.7N)
    Milorganite 6-2-0 8lbs/1000ft (.5N)

    3. Dec - Dormant Feeding
    Lesco Novex 12-0-24 54% TCRN 7lbs/1000ft (.8N)

    4. Late Feb - Depending on weather
    Lesco Dimension 5-10-17.15% SOP 3.5lbs/1000ft (.2N)

    5. Late Mar - Depending on weather
    Lesco Dimension 5-10-17.15% SOP 3.5lbs/1000ft (.2N)

    6. Early April
    Lesco Novex 12-0-24 54% TCRN 4lbs/1000ft (.5N)

    7. Mid May
    Lesco Novex 12-0-24 54% TCRN 4lbs/1000ft (.5N)
    Milorganite 6-2-0 8lbs/1000ft (.5N)

    8. Late June
    Lesco Iron Plus 20FE 8MN 5MG 7.5S 2ZN 3lbs/1000ft (.6FE)

    9. Early Aug
    Lesco Iron Plus 20FE 8MN 5MG 7.5S 2ZN 3lbs/1000ft (.6FE)


    I've tried to combine some organic products with synthetic products. I've also chosen products that have low salt index to promote a good soil structure.

    Yearly Nutrient Totals per 1000 sq ft:

    N - 4.8lbs
    P - 3.5lbs
    K - 6.1lbs
    S - 3.6lbs
    Fe - 2.6lbs
    Mn - 0.7lbs
    Zn - 0.2lbs
    Mg - 0.3lbs
    CI - 0.3lbs
    Cu - 0.1lbs

    Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated.

    Thanks

    SystemXpert
     
  2. matthew horner

    matthew horner LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 696

    Hey expert, could you break this down a little for me. I'm new to ferts etc and need a program like this for both fescue (mostly) and some centipede.

    Looks like you worked hard on this, but it seems like alot of chemicals. What do each of them do, and how do you price this?

    Thanks my friend,
    Matt
     
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    It looks rather expensive, but if you are able to get the price to make up for the difference, then all the best for you. Why all the Novex, and why so frequent if you ARE using Novex? Why not just go with a 50% scu? You'd save yourself a bundle of money.
     
  4. SystemXpert

    SystemXpert LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    First, I have to confess this program is not something I'm going to offer my customers yet. Like many, I intend to test this out on my own lawn first.
    Here is breakdown of what is being used.

    Lesco Transitional Blend Fescue Seed
    Dolomite Lime (Not always needed)
    Lesco PolyVex 13-24-13 36% TCRN
    Lesco Novex 12-0-24 54% TCRN
    Lesco Dimension 5-10-17.15% SOP
    Lesco Iron Plus 20FE 8MN 5MG 7.5S 2ZN
    Milorganite 6-2-0

    Not such a long list, it is? Like many, I like to experiment with lawn care programs. Its one of the things that can give you a competitive edge. There are endless combinations of products and feeding schedules.
    Goals of this program.

    1. Feed BOTH the soil and the turf. One of the main criticisms of the synthetic fertilizers programs is that they only feed the plants and soil activity is ******** from the use of ferts with a high salt index. The ferts chosen in this program derive Potash from SOP (Sulfur or Potash) instead of MOP (Muriate of Potash). The salt index approximately 50% lower with SOP instead of MOP. At the same time, I feed the microbes in the soil using Milorganite as a supplement.

    2. Provide consistent slow growth and uniform deep color. This program uses PolyVex and Novex products because they provide a slow even release of nutrients. More importantly they use a homogenous particle. (Novex) This means all the prills in the bag are the same with each one containing the nutrients. Now its true, normal PPSC would probably be fine. However, alot this depends on the application rates. My program calls for several feedings at low applications rates and a homogenous particle will give more even coverage at low rates.

    3. Provide whats needed when its needed. Dimension is applied in late winter program to supress weeds before they become a problem in the spring. Iron is applied during the summer to keep the color consistent, but not encourage growth. The rest of the ferts have been timed to provide the right nutrients when they are most needed for fesue. (Mostly FALL some SPRING)

    At first look, it does look like alot of fertilizer is being used. However, consider the application rates. For example, the bag of 13-24-13 will treat 5000sqft lawn twice at an application rate of .5lbs N/1000ft.

    I'll take you through the program step by step:
    1. Sept. - Overseed + Aeration
    Lesco Transitional Blend Fescue Seed
    Dolomite Lime - 10lbs/1000ft (Based on Soil Test)
    Lesco PolyVex 13-24-13 36% TCRN 5lbs/1000ft (.7N)
    Milorganite 6-2-0 8lbs/1000ft (.5N)

    I believe that a fescue lawn in the south needs an annual Aeration & Overseeding. Hot summers do damage a fescue lawn and we all now thicker turf means a stronger defense against weeds. The 13-24-13 36% TCRN is used with high P to help the new grass seedlings develop strong deep roots. Milorganite 6-2-0 is also put down to incorporate some OM into the soil. It would be even better if you skipped the Milogranite and did a good topdressing, but time and cost are high on topdressing. Milorganite won't replace a good topdressing, but its an alternative.

    2. Oct - Fall Turfbuilding (4-6 weeks after Seeding)
    Lesco PolyVex 13-24-13 36% TCRN 5lbs/1000ft (.7N)
    Milorganite 6-2-0 8lbs/1000ft (.5N)

    This is a follow-up application to help the turf recover from the aeration and further feed the new grass seedlings.

    3. Dec - Dormant Feeding
    Lesco Novex 12-0-24 54% TCRN 7lbs/1000ft (.8N)

    This application is done at the end of the growing season help the turf get ready for winter AND get the grasss to store food for the spring. Fescue does not go completely dormant in the south. We only get a few hard-freezes usually in late Jan. While the grass is not actively growing it is storing nutrients. You will notice the high K (Potash) is good for the root system and makes the grass more stress tolerant.

    4. Late Feb - Depending on weather
    Lesco Dimension 5-10-17.15% SOP 3.5lbs/1000ft (.2N)
    5. Late Mar - Depending on weather
    Lesco Dimension 5-10-17.15% SOP 3.5lbs/1000ft (.2N)

    Both of these applications are designed to do one thing: Supress the weeds before they become a problem. I prefer to do 2 split applications to provide a longer season of weed control. Once again in the south spring is a long season that sometimes starts in March. So you should actually start weed treatments early. You will notice the N is quite low. We have plenty of carryover from the dormant feeding and do not need excessive N right now.

    6. Early April
    Lesco Novex 12-0-24 54% TCRN 4lbs/1000ft (.5N)
    7. Mid May
    Lesco Novex 12-0-24 54% TCRN 4lbs/1000ft (.5N)
    Milorganite 6-2-0 8lbs/1000ft (.5N)

    These applications continue to build the turf and the soil. You will notice the application rates are much lower than the fall feedings. Once again, we want slow even growth. Novex is an excellent product to achieve this. The milorganite 6-2-0 is also put down to keep the soil activity as we head into summer. This helps the lawn fight off diseases. Also, K is our highest nutrient concentration to help the lawn get ready for the hot temps of summer.

    8. Late June
    Lesco Iron Plus 20FE 8MN 5MG 7.5S 2ZN 3lbs/1000ft (.6FE)
    9. Early Aug
    Lesco Iron Plus 20FE 8MN 5MG 7.5S 2ZN 3lbs/1000ft (.6FE)

    These last two applications are designed to extend color and add many of the secondary & micronutrients to the soil. We have more than enough N P & K in the soil already, our goal now is to help the turf ride out the hot summer and maintain a nice even color. Alot of this will depend on the weather and if you irrigate the lawn.

    I hope this helps explain what I'm trying to accomplish. Cost wise it runs roughly $150.00 / year for a 5000sqft lawn. (Most of my customers are in subdivisions with small lawns) As far as charging customers, I'm not sure yet. I gotta see some results first and see how the lawn responds. I may combine the summer iron treatment into a single visit. 8 Visits is pretty standard.

    SystemXpert
     
  5. sniggly

    sniggly LawnSite Member
    Posts: 190

    This is going to come across sarcastic so in advance I'll say I don't mean it that way........but Geeeezzzzzzzzzz............

    Good Sir..........you have taken attention to detail to a level never before achieved in the history of mankind.

    I gotta tell ya......for all this ananlysis your putting into it.......I really don't think the results are going to be such that your customer's are going to say, "Wow....check out how the microbes in the soil are getting fed too!"

    The customer is a visually stimulated animal, much like us men. Treat them that way and you'll do just fine. This program seems geared more toward satisfying yourself than your customer. If you tried to sell this to me I'd have you run out of the kitchen PDQ.

    Good Luck to you.
    Chris
     
  6. SystemXpert

    SystemXpert LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    "Good Sir..........you have taken attention to detail to a level never before achieved in the history of mankind."

    Yeah, its probably overkill. However, I believe research and testing are part of the business. My business is only part-time and my customer base is small. However, my customers do pay for results. So I think its in my best interest to keep researching and learning all I can. Even if it seems like overkill.

    "I gotta tell ya......for all this ananlysis your putting into it.......I really don't think the results are going to be such that your customer's are going to say, "Wow....check out how the microbes in the soil are getting fed too!""

    Probably. Customers want a lush green lawn and probably are not thinking about the microbes in the soil. However, I believe good soil management is important for a showpiece lawn. Customers are paying for your experience and knowledge, not just a person to apply fertilizer and cut grass.

    SystemXpert
     
  7. Hamons

    Hamons LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 706

    I think your program is great. However, I alos think it is overkill and will be hard to market it commercially.

    * One thing, the cost is much higher than $150 for a five thousand sq ft lawn. With 8 or 9 stops you have considerable time invested. Additionaly, you will be hauling around and applying a l ot of product! A quick mental add up showed it to be aroung 60 pounds per thousand per year. More than 2500# per acre. You will spend alot of time just handling materials.

    * If you are going to use Novex. Apply it at higher rates. Novex is not meant to spoon feed grass. You can apply up to 3 or 4 pounds of N at a time with that stuff. It is simialr to UF with less of the HWIN -- that can take 2 - 10 years to release fully. However, you can count on around 24 weeks of steady release. So try combining a few of your applications into one heavier feeding.

    Also, you might try fortified organics. Using products that utilize natural organics combined with high quality inorganics you can get simialr results with a whole LOT less trouble and slightly less cost.

    I would need to charge somewhere around $50-75/m annually to make this program profitable.
     
  8. ThreeWide

    ThreeWide LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,116

    I live in North GA, with a similar climate to yours.

    A couple of things I would say about your program:

    The use of Iron is a good move in the summer months as you cannot introduce nitrogen at that time.

    I like the idea of using Novex products. They are more ideal for situations where you can save trips by doubling the product applied. They will also work fine in your situation with a standard number of applications. The product itself is more expensive so the typical LCO advantage is to reduce the number of visits. Because the product is more expensive, I would consider changing the analysis to provide a higher ratio of nitrogen. At 12 percent you will be applying a lot of product.

    Your split on the Dimension might need to be wider than 4 weeks. Depending on the weather, late Jan might work in some cases. Poa annua is sometimes active then. I might consider pushing the second application later in April because the crabgrass window goes well into May.

    Just so I will know.....what is the approximate cost of Milorganite?
     
  9. SWD

    SWD LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 989

    Okay, you have done all of this typing, but do you have a soil test to base your fertility program on? I am more interested in base satuartion and CEC levels than what you propose, unless you have a multitudinal level soil test of which the results you haven't shared yet.
     
    Hamons likes this.
  10. SystemXpert

    SystemXpert LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    Ok, I would like thank everyone for their comments and suggestions. Here are some of revisions I'm going to make.

    1. I'm going combine the Novex treatments from 3 treatments into 2 treatments. 1 in the Fall and 1 in the Spring. Each one will be 10lbs /1000ft which is 1.2n /1000ft. You guys are right, Novex allows for larger applications.

    2. The Summer Iron treatments will also be combined into one treatment in early July. 5lbs/1000 which is 1lb Fe/1000ft.

    3. I'm also going to increase the timing on the 2 Dimension treatments from 4 weeks to 6 weeks in between. Can't be exact on when, depends on the weather. However, it will be 6-7 weeks between the applications.

    Here is what the revised program looks like:

    1. Sept. - Overseed + Aeration
    Lesco Transitional Blend Fescue Seed
    Dolomite Lime - 10lbs/1000ft (Based on Soil Test)
    Lesco PolyVex 13-24-13 36% TCRN 5lbs/1000ft (.7N)
    Milorganite 6-2-0 8lbs/1000ft (.5N)

    2. Oct - Fall Turfbuilding (4-6 weeks after Seeding)
    Lesco PolyVex 13-24-13 36% TCRN 5lbs/1000ft (.7N)
    Milorganite 6-2-0 8lbs/1000ft (.5N)

    3. Dec - Dormant Feeding
    Lesco Novex 12-0-24 54% TCRN 10/bs/1000ft (1.2N)

    4. Early Feb - Depending on weather
    Lesco Dimension 5-10-17.15% SOP 3.5lbs/1000ft (.2N)

    5. Late Mar - Depending on weather
    Lesco Dimension 5-10-17.15% SOP 3.5lbs/1000ft (.2N)

    6. Mid April
    Lesco Novex 12-0-24 54% TCRN 10lbs/1000ft (1.2N)
    Milorganite 6-2-0 8lbs/1000ft (.5N)

    7. Early July
    Lesco Iron Plus 20FE 8MN 5MG 7.5S 2ZN 5lbs/1000ft (1.0Fe)

    I know there was another suggestion that I use a higher ratio of the Novex instead of 12-0-24. However, since I'm mixing in the Milorganite 6-2-0, I should have enough N. I would also prefer to be a little higher on the K for increased stress tolerance to deal with Summer heat + drought.

    Oh,,,yes there was a soil test done. I don't have the results in front of me right now, but I'll post. I do remeber the test showed my soil was a little on the acidic side, which is why I have included the lime treatment. Again, if this was to be rolled out to customers, a soil test would be a must.

    Oh...Someone asked about the cost of Milorganite 6-2-0. Its cheap. I can get the standard grade for 8.95/40lbs and the greens grade for 10.00/50lbs. Lesco does not carry this, but many local Seed N Feed shops do.

    SystemXpert
     
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