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Fertilizer Guide

2979 Views 10 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Marcos
I was wondering if anyone had a link to a good guide for fertilizers. I saw a small one on SeedLand that recommended 2-3lb of N per 1,000 sqft on Tall Fescue lawns which is what I have. I want to avoid burning my lawn and don't have irrigation so I'm thinking of doing 4 or more small apps per year, I also have a new lawn so the grass may be a bit more fragile. I had a soil test done in the fall through the extension office which was a bit limited but indicated I was low in organics but my P/K was at a decent level. I have since redone my yard and put down 1" of top soil and reseeded with 10lb per K of Falcon fescue. Really I just want to do some learning so I don't screw up my yard, I to enjoy working on it though.
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I had a soil test done in the fall through the extension office which was a bit limited but indicated I was low in organics but my P/K was at a decent level.
If your organic soil content was tested low, why not go with composting, or with some sort or rotation of grain-based meals?
Even though there's more labor involved & meals are a little more expensive, in the long run you'll end up saving $$$ not having to mow as much per year because compost / meals don't force anywhere near as much top growth as compared to chemical fertilizers, and thus, your lawn probably won't have to be watered, either! :)

What you'd need to do to get started is look up local Ag co-op / grain elevators in your area, make friends with the salespeople there, get pricing, make enough space in your garage/shed to stack a few 50# sacks of meal on top of something to keep it dry, and finally, buy a decent commercial-grade spreader with a good agitator system & adequate openings at the bottom.

Examples of some meals, their approx. fertilizer analysis & general rates:

6-2-2 Cottonseed meal...helps acidify alkaline soil, 15-20#/k
.........Corn Gluten meal....pre-emergent rate 20-25#/k
9-0-0 Corn gluten meal....fertilizer rate 10#/k (=1#N/ksf)
2-0-0 Corn meal....acts as turf fungicide too 15-20# k
3-1-3 Alfalfa meal...lots o' micro nutrients too 15-20#/k
6-1-2 Soybean all purpose meal 15-20#/k
10-6-0 Fish meal.......gardens & beds 5-10#/k
13-2-1 Blood meal....acidifier, best in gardens 5#/k
3-15-0 Bone meal....natural bloom builder 5#/k
1-0-5 *Molasses....micro nutrients + carbs to feed microbes

*Buy ag-grade molasses in liquid form for the best value!
Spray it on the lawn out of a Ortho hose-end sprayer. :waving:
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My base soil is TN clay and the PH analysis was slightly low but they recommended not liming it at the time, not sure about the top soil. Due to that I probably wouldn't put down the acidifying meals. The soybean meal looks good though. I'll check on prices at the Co-op, my stepbrother actually works at the Co-op distribution center so I can get it at cost but its a bit of a drive to get there. Your soybean meal recommended rate comes in right at 1lb of N per k, would you do this all at one time? How good of a spreader would I need? Would an pro grade Earthway do ok?

I'd like to go with compost but its a bit harder to find and hard to spread expecially on 50,000-60,000 sqft.
You're probably in like Flint if you've got family at the local co-op. :)
If you like soybean meal (SBM), bear in mind it may not be anywhere near as cheap in TN as it is here in OH.
The same way cottonseed meal (CSM) is more expensive in OH than it is where it's grown in the South.

Don't get too hung up on fert analysis of meals.
For example...alfalfa meal (AM) w/ its 3-1-3 is chuck full of important micro nutrients, too.
You could easily substitute AM for SBM for one of the 'rounds' in order to give the turf some nutrient diversity.
If the price is good in comparison to SBM, CSM shouldn't affect your pH all that much if you used it only once works quite gradually.

You said before the recommended annual rate of fert in tall fescue is 2-3# nitrogen. That's about right. So this means you'll probably want to plan to apply SBM or whatever meal at the 1#N/k rate on 2 to 3 separate occasions this season, probably at least 10 to 12 weeks apart to maximize the efficiency of the meal decomposition & the almost immediate subsequent buildup of beneficial soil microbe activity.

If you've indeed got a solid 50,000 sq ft of turf, you're looking at 15 bags of meal per application, or 45 for the entire 2010 season if you decide to do it 3 times.
In total, that's over 2 skids.
Maybe you can invite that stepbrother over for a few dinners this year in exchange for a few separate deliveries? :laugh:
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How good of a spreader would I need? Would an pro grade Earthway do ok?
I've never personally used one of those for meals, but the Earthways do have nice pneumatic tires which are important for user comfort when applying large areas, so it may be OK.

The important things are a lot of mechanical agitation movement inside the spreader hopper itself, and a good, durable impeller that's cleaned every so often in between bags.
Meals are a little dusty and sometimes it will accumulate on the impeller, shortening the throw of the spreader dramatically & thus possibly distorting the original intended spreading pattern.
Here's what the local Co-op has:

Cottonseed Meal - $11 / 50#
Soybean Meal - $11.60 / 50#

I asked about Corn Gluten Meal and Alfalfa meal but they didn't have meal forms of these.

I can probably get the CSM and SBM for $8 or so a bag from my BIL. I've already got 140# of 15-20-10 starter fertilizer that I'm going to put down this weekend along with 250lb of Fescue. I'll probably do roughly 200lb of 10/10/10 in mid April. This Fall I may invest in a good spreader and do an application or two of the above meals, maybe one CSM and one SBM.

Are there any disadvantages of doing a fertilizer program where you alternate between natural and synthetic fertilzers?
Those prices are very good.
The "$8 or so" price would be a steal.

No real disadvantage in alternating between natural & synthetics other than surge growth potential from the synthetics, particularly if the urea (N) content of the synthetic product isn't sulfur coated (slow release) to a certain degree.
What brand of spreaders have you used with meals? It would kind of be a ***** to spend $200 on a spreader intending to use it for meals and it not flow well. By the way, I appreciate all the help.
As far as pushing smaller lots is concerned, we like the Bigfoot HVO stainless steel these days.

It's the very 1st one listed here:
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