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Bermuda 419 Fertilizer Blend

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by quiet, Dec 28, 2004.

  1. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 720

    I've been in discusssions about my spring fertilizer purchase, and one supplier suggested the following custom blend:

    25% Ammonium Sulfate
    25% Methylene Urea
    50% Biosolids
    10% Sulfur

    I Know - that's 110%!

    Soil analyses are all very similar. Here's a recent one:
    ph = 8.0
    Phosporus - 47 ppm - High
    Potassium - 192 ppm - High
    Calcium - 64356 ppm - Very High
    Mn - 683 - high
    Salinity - 266 - none
    Zinc - 2.55 - High
    Iron - 6.30 - High
    Mg - 4.07 - High
    Sodium - 372 - Low
    Sulphur - 98 - High

    The fertilizer works out to a 16-2-0 analysis. Cost is high = $1.96/MSF

    I'm a little wary about no K at all for summer heat stress . . . and it gets hot here in Central TX.

    But it sounds like a pretty good mix for my area. Opinions?
  2. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    Except for the fact that your first three ingredients are not approved for organic growing, and this is an organic forum, it looks good. And I would never suggest anyone use sulfur on a yard, so that about covers the entire recipe.

    Here's a good organic recipe:
    50% ground grains (corn, soy, cottonseed, flax, coffee, etc.)
    45% feather meal
    5% blood meal

    Cost for this should be about $1.86/msf if you shop wisely.
  3. what would the analysis of the fert be in your mix?
  4. woodycrest

    woodycrest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 435

    This is the analysis...:)
    50% ground grains (corn, soy, cottonseed, flax, coffee, etc.)
    45% feather meal
    5% blood meal
  5. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    Somewhere I mentioned that in order to "go organic" you have to forget a lot of what you already know about gardening. If I didn't mention it here, maybe I forgot. Anyway traditional fertilizer analysis is one of the things that doesn't really apply any more. Here's why.

    The soil has two types of materials in it. One type of material is readily available to the plants as nutrients. The other type of constituants are not available. As an example ferric iron is not available while ferrous iron is. When traditional soil tests are done, they dissolve the entire soil in hydrochloric acid to determine what was in it. As you probably already can see, after the harsh acid dissolves it all, there is no way to determine whether the original minerals were in the available form or not.

    The soil microbes generate carbon dioxide during their normal metabolism just like we do. For these creatures underground, the CO2 stays there. When the CO2 meets wet soil particles, dilute carbonic acid forms. That acid is identical to soda water you get in your Coke at the local fountain. It is fairly weak but there is a steady supply of it.

    I think I'm getting to a point here :waving: Have your eyes glazed over yet? The point is that traditional NPK analysis of the soil does not take into account the fact that the minerals might not be available to the plants. NOR does the traditional test take into account that the microbes will help to dissolve some, but not all, of the unavailable minerals. The additional point is that no matter what the NPK is of any fertilizer you apply, the microbes are going to eat it and do their thing with the available minerals in the soil. Remember that Mother Nature did this for 4 billion years before we came along to help things out. She managed to grow huge redwood and rain forests as well as huge prairies that supported millions of pounds of animals.

    This is another of the conundrums of going organic in this profession. By law you are required to use only materials meeting certain standards. The reason for this is so that the fly-by-nights don't come in and charge you $50 to apply tap water. I fully understand that. But how does the pro trying to help out with an organic program apply soy meal for example? Each state is a little different in what they require on the bags, but it seems that as soon as the formal analysis goes on the side of the bag, the price goes up 10x. When you look at the tag on a bag of corn meal, it tells you what's in the bag. That should be good enough for the state.

    Having said all that, here is a link to figure out the NPK using nearly any organic material. Unfortunately the NPK varies slightly with the quality of organic materials, so nothing is really certain in organic fertilizers.

    With organic there is another important point to make. Some organic protein sources release their protein much faster than others. Blood meal simply dissolves as fast as it gets wet while the digestion and conversion of feather meal to protein is measured in calendar months. Hence the proportions I suggest in my recipe.
  6. Well,

    the anaylsis doesn't matter! I know what the plant needs, and I want to know what I'm applying to meet those needs! SO THE ANAYLSIS DOES MATTER!! What is the anaylsis of the mix in % of n, p, and k?

    Turfgrass has it's needs, but their not the same as tomatoes or carrots!
  7. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Fanatic
    from zone 6
    Messages: 5,883

    Depends on the grain of choice you choose for the first 50%. He gave you the link .....do the math.
    Although Primal does not list NPK for Soy so you won't know unless somebody has that info.
    Soy is a little over 7% N I believe but I have not found P or K numbers. Protein divided by 6.25 will give you N content of grains.
  8. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    Interestingly, in the organic garden forums and lists I deal with, the application rate of 10-20 pounds of grain (or beans or nuts) per 1,000 square feet applies to turf, trees, ornamentals, and edibles. When you feed protein to the soil surface microbes, they and their waste materials feed the rest of the microbes. Then whatever plants you have get whatever they need from the microbial food chain within the soil. The rate that the plants get any of their 15 different nutritional needs is determined underground at the plant's roots by the symbiotic relationship between plant roots and microbes.

    However I'm absolutely NOT dismissing your statement. The scientific understanding of these organic soil microbes is in its infancy. We very well could find out in a few years that there are different needs for the different plants. Currently the state of the organic art says you stick with that one application rate and adjust from there if you think you need to. So the analysis doesn't seem to matter now but it may in the future.

    Again along the lines of not dismissing your statement, if you are growing in pure silica sand, you have to add mineral to the sand or you don't do so well. The mineral might include P and K but N in organic soils still comes from the digestion and rotting of protein including that from formerly living microbes. You can find organic P and K sources in that same link I gave before. Notice that ashes from almost anything provide lots of concentrated P. I'm not sure what the application rate would be to use them straight out of the fireplace but maybe someone else will have that. If you are not growing in pure silica, the common organic gardeners are dispensing with soil testing and using organic fertilizers at the one rate - actually a range of rates between 10 and 20 pounds. When I apply 10 pounds per 1,000 I simply cannot believe it will do anything so I lean toward 20 pounds on my personal lawn. But too many people tell me that 10 pounds works fine, so there you are. And I know from unfortunate experience that you need at least 20 pounds of corn meal to have any effect on an active fungal disease.

    And I may have been optimistic in suggesting that feather meal rots away in a matter of a few months. It is more like a few seasons. Same with hair.

    Well I just remembered that I had the NPK stuff on my Excel. Let's say you take equal amounts of corn, feather, blood, and cottonseed meals and mix them together. Then take 10 pounds of that and you will have 3.4-0.45-0.26 POUNDS of NPK. But what does that mean? For example 1.5 pounds of the N is blood meal which is available immediately to the plants. Another 1.5 pounds is feather meal which will be available when the glaciers return to Texas. The rest is grains which is available in 3 weeks and will be available until the feathers start to decompose. The point of my fertilizer mix is to provide a little protein now but not enough to burn, then the intermediate protein kicks in, and then the long term protein kicks in in a few months. This idea of timed release of organic fertilzer introduces a whole different concept into the NPK calculations. I'm an engineer and I have trouble getting a mathematical handle on the timed release concept. So I just forget about it, apply the stuff, and trust that the microbes and plants can handle it from there.

    Organic fertilizer are commonly thought of as 'slow release.' Well blood certainly isn't slow. Neither is synthetic urea. So that's why the organic fertilizer companies don't use much blood (and artificial urea is banned). The only reason this slow release myth is out there is because the organic baggers do not use the hot stuff or have learned to use it in moderation (like my recipe).
  9. We already know that their are differewnt needs for different plants!

    I believe that ashes contain potash, not phosphours!

    So, ten lbs of an equal mix of your fert will give .34lbs of n/m, .045lbs of p/m, and .026lbs of k/m. That mix will not even come close to delivering enough k for turfgrass!
  10. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Fanatic
    from zone 6
    Messages: 5,883

    I have a question concerning Organics, please bear with my ignorance, is the P and K that is in a feed, say alfalfa which Primal seeds lists at 2.45- .5- 2.10 available to plants immediately [or at least when it reaches root zones], or does it have to be processed by microbes as does organic sources of N to become available for plant use?

    If organic forms of P & K have to be processed by microbes to become available to plants what happens when soil temps drop and microbe activity slows way down, is the P & K still available in amounts the plants need, particularly if a non organic source of N is added for fall\winter color and root growth?

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