Tricks To reduce fertilizer usage?

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by ChemicalKing, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. ChemicalKing

    ChemicalKing LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    1.) Humic/Fulvic Acids: For along time now, there has been alot of hoopla about the addition of humic & fulvic acids to your fertility program with the conception of being able to significantly reduce NPK usage.

    I am sure some of you have read the famous quote (posted on many websites): "Humates will enhance the overall performance of the fertilizers to a point that an actual reduction of basic N-P-K per 1,000 square feet may be appropriate over time; enhance the development of root systems ; enhance success of seed germination and overall plant development; enhance overall plant health, resistance to stress, and appearance."

    Anyone have any tryed & true experiences with humates, from an actual NPK reduction standpoint?

    2.) Agrotain claims that its nitrogen stabilizers (urease inhibitor/ dicyandiamide) found in Uflex, Umax or Hydrex, enhances nitrogen utilization to the point that a substantially lower volume of N per 1,000 can be used with same response. They made claims of reducing application rate from our 1# of N per 1,000 to as low as 1/4 # with similar response.

    Has anyone found this to be true on warm season turf?
     
  2. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,476

    Diligent use of organics does reduce the need for synthetic urea based Nitrogen up here. Warmer soils I would think might need more organic acids, but the benefits should be similar.
     
  3. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,214

    I've mentioned it before, and I'll mention it again: while in college I took a Professional Turfgrass Mgmt class and we researched humates. We found ZERO empirical evidence that humates do anything at all.
     
  4. ChemicalKing

    ChemicalKing LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    In our north texas region, we have seen some minor benefits to humates applied to weak, shady disease prone St Augustine - where high N is not an option from a disease management perspective. It is widely used in the south, as an additive to reduce leaf burn potential of liquid fertilizers with a high salt index, such as uan & urea (this I have seen work). However, I am with you on the general concensus that it is of limited value. I just wondered if there is any validity to the manufacturers claims of a reduction in NPK usage.

    Primarily, I am asking for feedback from anybody that has found a cost effective approach to reducing their rates? With fert prices soaring, it makes sense to look for non traditional alternatives...
     
  5. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Posts: 5,852

    Ditto with whoopass.........

    We used to use "synthetic-organic" (liquid) fertilizer featuring humic acid for several years. It was very expensive, and the cost per acre was higher than other forms of fert. We get more bang for the buck using granular fert. 25 -- 50% SCU, and it lasts longer.
     
  6. Turfdoctor1

    Turfdoctor1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 705

    ditto.

    i worked as a research technician in turfgrass management for 5 years at the university of arkansas. We did several trials with humate products for various purposes. We never showed any difference between plots treated with humates versus than those that were not.
     
  7. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,214

    When looking at overall operating costs, the chemicals aren't all that huge of a factor. YES, it DOES add up over time, but those extra nickels on the grass instead of in your pocket is better than losing a single customer for rendering mediocre service.

    I was a cheapo one year - straight urea and Fe. It bit me in the butt.

    Now I disregard cost and apply whatever is needed to truly benefit the lawns...

    Customer retention is really the name of the game as far as making money in this industry goes. You short change them and they'll short change you.

    I know that's not the answer you're looking for, but that's what I learned the hard way.
     
  8. ChemicalKing

    ChemicalKing LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    I have a powerpoint presentation from the University of Arkansas (2005) that concludes significant NPK effeciency increases. Have you seen this more recent research?

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  9. ChemicalKing

    ChemicalKing LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33


    I am in total agreement with the spirit of this viewpoint! However, in our Texas turf market, it is easy to have your chemical cost equal $2-3 per 1,000 with todays prices. Certainly not "nickels & dimes" - more like 35% of your operating cost. I am seeing competitors struggling to make a profit these days, & experience has shown increasing prices to match higher costs results in a huge customer turnover... So would you accept a substantial decrease in profitability or look for creative methods of reducing costs in other areas?
     
  10. ChemicalKing

    ChemicalKing LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    FYI: To you Northern market guys...it takes one hell of alot more chemical to maintain warm season turf! Much longer growing season, tons of disease & specialized insect & weed problems. The cost associated with getting far superior results than our competitors has been a two edged sword, on the one hand customer retention & growth from referrals has been phenominal. On the other hand, we are making less profit. Traditionally, chemical lawn care has commanded a 40-50% margin - seeing that drop closer to 25% now.
    I guess one cannot expect to have your cake & eat it to - but damn this sucks!
     

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