Starter fertilizer - is is necessary

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by dtally, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. dtally

    dtally LawnSite Member
    Male, from Rock Hill, SC
    Posts: 82

    I am just wondering how may of you actually us a granular starter fertilizer. Really what is the benefit? CT seems to me like it would do the job, maybe even better. This maybe an explosive question, but as I was driving around today seeing customers and giving estimates, the question just came to mind. I felt who better to answer this question, than this information packed group.
     
  2. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    all i hear is worm casts and some compost.....................
     
  3. dtally

    dtally LawnSite Member
    Male, from Rock Hill, SC
    Posts: 82

    What about alfalfa meal, what's your take on it for a nitrogen source
     
  4. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    N for a new seedling??? thats not what i want in my bag.......
     
  5. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    let me get this strait for one second, I will speculate some so correct me if I am wrong, the old sod died or went bad? so the new seed is going to live in a place that would not support mature grass??? lets skip over a few steps just for the sake of time. bad lawn, needs new seeds, fixed soil and tested, adjusted as needed, added seeds, seeds grew well in good soil................. help me out because we are going to plant a heap of grass at the farm(to be cut and resold as sod) and I dont want to get this wrong. the way i see starter fert is you are tying to fix a situation after the fact, maybe I am wrong, but it seems like the soil should be fixed and working BEFORE the seed hits the ground.
     
  6. dtally

    dtally LawnSite Member
    Male, from Rock Hill, SC
    Posts: 82

    Good point, we deal mainly with tall fescue, that normally needs some reseeding in the fall to correct for the summer die off. Fescue as you may know is a cool season grass and we are in the south. They call it the transition zone, I call it ... nothing is supposed to grow very well zone. It is a practice, I thought most every where, that when people reseed they put down a "starter fertilizer." I am just wondering why. I think it is over rated and just a sales gimmick to get people to buy fertilizer. Most people being (synthetic) lawn care operators, and some organic based companies as well.

    Driving around today with an idle mind, this just came to thought.
     
  7. growingdeeprootsorganicly

    growingdeeprootsorganicly LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 766

    starter fert a gimmick? not sure im following you, when you plant any seed there needs to be available nutrients present in some form, really important for poor soil synthetic systems and as tree points out in a organic system you need really nutrient rich soil conditions from cast and compost to meet it's needs, for turf grass seed the idea is to get the seed established as fast as possible ,

    only you know the condition's of your lawns soils? have you soil tested? good OM content? is there enough p and k present to help establishment? other secondary and micro's present as well? if not and you cant dump alot of good cast and compost down. then maybe you can use alfalfa but some liquid kelp kelp/bone meal and sulfate of potash will be needed i would think? hit it with some good tea, ill go out on a limb and say use something like super thrive if you have it?humic/fulvic acids? good compost is king though! if you want to amke it easy go with a good synthetic fast release starter 10/20/10 or something? no one here can tell me synthetic starter doesn't work to establish seed fast, with out it you just don't get good establishment fast enough in poor soil. jmo
     
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    Starter ferts are called so because of high P. We should all know by now that there is plenty of P in most soils. The problem with P is that it is locked up in the soil and needs help by AM fungi and other microbes to become utilized.

    Nutirient cycling of clippings will help turn rock P into OM P over time. Compost with overseeding should be adequate.

    If it is not - There are other problems that need to be addressed. Figure out what is wrong with your soil that it cannot support grass.

    Remember soil tests only show what is available in a particular solution , not what is actually available in a healthy soil when the plant sends out his order through root enzymes.

    No one can say that starter fert isn't going to get seed off to a quick start. One could say however, that compost does BETTER short term and long term. What % of P is available in you synthetic blend? How long b4 more P needs to be added?

    Why is it wrong to build a soil that releases P rather than stockpiling it? Add 3 lbs of P per k so that 1.75 lbs can be used while the other 1.25 lbs are added to the soil and chemically locked up with other things.

    Synthetic lawns have been stockpiling for years and the ironic thing is - soil testing doesn't address that element of P. Out of site-out of mind.
     
  9. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    As smallaxe said, look at the bag and you will notice higher P, once the seedling germinates and uses up the energy stored in the seed, it needs a little push to get the entire stand of seed to turn into a plant well.

    Fetilizers melt into the top couple of inches and provide immediately available nutrients for the plant to get on with its growing business.

    Nice fertile soil will give the grass a great place to grow but may be lacking some of the nutrients to get it going well, if any stress comes along like not watering or too hot it will be more affected by it.

    the nutrient push from ferts allows you to seed and fugitaboutit. If you have nice soil then you can use 50 to 75% less IMO, the direction on the bag are like the direction on my dog's food, if I went by them I would be feeding 4 cans a day instead of one

    You can use our tea or hydroseed product and get great germination rates, really through the roof, but the seed may need a little push if the conditions aren't right to get that great germination rate to turn into plants
     
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    I would think a good boost with CT might be a starter. If it has AM fungi especially. Additional compost for longevity and some sound soil ammendemts to take it into the next year.

    Of course water correctly, then a sensible followup with - watering correctly. :)
     

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