Help to lower Fert costs

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by LawnsRUsInc., Mar 16, 2008.

  1. LawnsRUsInc.

    LawnsRUsInc. LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 916

    Has anyone changed thier program for fert to help out on the 30% increase in fert material? Have you changed what you use, how you apply it? Or have you joined or started a co-op?
     
  2. philk17088

    philk17088 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 17,386

    I see more custom blending happening in the future. Based on soil testing I plan on eliminating potassium and phosphorus where it isn't needed. My soil tests have been coming back with above average and excessive in these elements. reducing them should help on prices.
     
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,337

    Bought early, in December from last year's stock. Blends that were on sale. No phosphorus. Shopped more carefully. May reduce fertilizer rate if price spikes too high.
     
  4. BeautifulBlooms

    BeautifulBlooms LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 613

    I added a soil test included in my first step of the program (if things are all out of whack it will be needed yearly to monitor the changes) but if things are ok probably every 2-3 years I will do another. That is assuming we are still legal to apply fert in 2-3 years!!!!

    I am going to base all my apps on the soil test. I have also lowered my Nitrogen rate down to 3.5 Lbs / 1000 from 4.25. I knew clippings accounted for some lost N but I didnt realize it can be up to 1 LB N per year. By cutting the N rate down in essence the 25-30% cost increase was dissolved by my applying 75% of the fertilizer.

    I am going to be looking into higher N composition ferts whenever possible like the fall application when burn isnt as big of a concern.

    I also have considered just applying dimension alone as the first app if it is available that way, or going with a no Nitrogen first app with Dimension and maybe some K for rooting as that will cut the cost downa lot, and there really isn't too much need for N in April up here, people just do it because thats how most products come. It especially isn't necessary if you put down a late fall app as some of those nutrients should still be available for spring uptake.

    Basically my prices stayed the same this year from last year but mostly because I dropped the N rate down to something more reasonable. Of course I would bump it back up if someone said that they still want to collect clippings, but there will be an increase in price for that. I gave them all the information up front in an informational sheet about my program. As far as the soil test I only charged them the cost of the test $15 plus another $15 for my time to take samples and send them in. And once again this cost is only realized on my part once every few years.
     
  5. grassman177

    grassman177 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,795

    good ideas, but i dont skimp on quality material so i raised prices to compensate. i like what i am using way to much to change. not that you are skimping, but leave your rates alone if it is doing the trick or less results is all you will get.

    we have a lot of phosphorus and potassium here in the soikl too, but is locked up in the heavy clay. most folks here will not pay for lime and gypsum apps to change soil ph, when they do i will go with ideas like yours not only to reduce cost, but reduce runoff.
     
  6. Atlantic Lawn

    Atlantic Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Outer Banks NC
    Posts: 940

    Have you checked fert prices from UAP ?
     
  7. BeautifulBlooms

    BeautifulBlooms LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 613

    Im not skimping in quality of products I am just cutting out the fat of the N apps. There should be no need for 4.5 lbs of N per year on a lawn that clippings are left alone. On a property where clippings are collected 4-4.5 Lb N is needed.

    As far as Phosphorus I have gone to no phosphorus unless the soil test reveals a defficiency. I will continue to apply K as needed, but that spring app to me is the most important timing for K.

    Basically I am using educating my customers as the driving force behind my fert program now. If they dont care and just want me to maintain the fert program great but for those that want to understand why I am changing things I am glad to tell them. Thats why I wrote up an information sheet about the program. I think I am promoting myself as more environmental as opposed to some applicators who just apply a standard program. now with allt his said I have only been doing lawn fert for 3 years so we will be able to compare previous years to this year after it is over.
     
  8. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,476

    With DAP prices around $1000/ton, we've removed the Phosphorus from nearly all the blends that we offer. Lawns around here will never miss the P.

    Some of our customers are ordering lower Nitrogen levels too often from .75 to .5#N for Round 1. 13%N instead of 19N for instance. Using reacted Nitrogen such as Nutrlene or MESA rather than SCU has been somewhat popular too - less volatilization & leaching means greater efficiency.

    Between creative warehousing & generic chemistry, we're sctualy SAVING a lot of our customers money. If you can't work with your existing supplier, this might be a good time to explore your options. We're here when you're ready.
     
  9. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 720

    That's a good piece of info. I may add that being aware of all types of N sources, and your yearly K needs can help with seasonal applications. For example, varying your application rounds of SRN/high K blends, with rounds of stricty soluble N ferts can lower your overall yearly program costs. Or rounds of just straight SRN where soil P and K levels are already sufficient.

    Down here where we do 5-6 fert apps (+ 2 pre-m apps) we have the flexibilty to use straight ammonium sulfate in 2 or even 3 rounds while still retaining the color and turf density from high SRN/High K blends.

    Now, I've got a couple lower cost app rounds mixed in the program, that's still beneficial, and also shows beautiful quick results.
     
  10. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,108

    I do 100% liquids. My growing season is 12 months out of the year. For as long as I have been in the business, I was a pioneer in this state. After doing the convention in Hawaii of broadcasting 16-16-16 or 21-7-14 on turf a few times, I started looking for more dramatic and professional results from a fertilizer application. First step was pulling a soil sample and sending out of state to labs like A&L. Then I learned how to blend technical materials such as urea, potassium nitrate, MAP, and the various micronutrients to address the deficiencies and excesses revealed by the soil tests. I do this for each lawn. My cost for a custom blended liquid of appropriate analysis is usually around $3 per M. My normal fee to maintain 1 M of turf per month including all pesticides and and fertilizers is $100 per M with a bulk discount for lawns over 5M. BTW, urea is $23/50lb and a turf granule with 30% or more SRN is about $25-30/50LB in Hawaii. SRN has not worked very well for me. The warm temps make the N release too fast and I have seen granules cause the lawn to look like a green dalmation because of the concentration of N at each prill. I get better results feeding a low rate monthly. Most bermuda, seashore paspallum, st augustine or zoysia lawns need at least 0.5lb N per month. Otherwise they thin out and decline. Not to mention a pale lawn=fired LCO.
     

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