fertilizer strategy for sandy soil

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by mschlee, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. mschlee

    mschlee LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    taking care of about half an acre of perennial rye in sandy soil. i'm thinking i need to start breaking my fertilizer schedule up to avoid fertilizing the groundwater rather than my lawn.

    as a reference, i've played with different watering schedules and have started to go against the conventional wisdom by breaking the 1"/wk into about 4-5 times at 1/4" each. to give a sense of how sandy it is, i drained an entire 20k gallon pool in the back corner in about 6 hours and all that was there the entire time was about a 8 sq foot puddle about 1/2" deep i.e., the soil(sand) drains very very fast.

    so my plan is to spray liquid fertilizer every 4-6 weeks depending on weather patterns. soil test shows need for 3/0/4 lbs per 1k sqft. so i'd spread over 6 moths or so (slow the application at peak temps). saw a study that confirmed a combination of liquid and granular was the most optimal so may throw in some granular (but will moderate to the 3/0/4 per yr in total)

    i first thought to go with slow release fertilizer but was thinking probably even better to use liquid as it can be absorbed through the leaf structure rather than roots so less loss through drainage. after doing some research this is confirmed by a lot of university studies (rutgers/msu/kentucky/ohio state)

    so wanted some words from the wise - any thoughts on the plan using liquid fertilizer on very sandy soil?
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Sounds like a sound idea... my thought is that in a sandy environment, that a layer of living thatch is OK, to be a little thicker than normal... they claim that 'organic ferts' such as compost or Milorganite do not move as quickly through the soil...
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,814

    I suggest IBDU slow-release granules (or maybe methylene urea). Slow-release and organic nitrogen sources stay in the top layer of the soil and the nitrogen releases as it rains, (or irrigation)(sometimes bacterial action). Continuous slow feeding. Go easy on the irrigation to be sure; do not drive the nutrients through the soil and into the deeper layers. Sandy, highly leachable soil needs 75 percent of nitrogen in the slow-release form.
    I could be wrong--but I do not think urea can be absorbed by leaves until it is broken down to nitrates.
  4. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,165

    Increasing the organic matter will be very beneficial.
  5. mschlee

    mschlee LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    thanks. Riggle thanks for the input. i'm just a beginner so have more questions than answers. the reason i came up with the strategy was based a lot on a few studies noting the foliar uptake percentages and it looks like it does very favorably relative to granular. the uptake is very rapid e.g., most of the uptake happens within the first hour. i could not however find a recent study on perennial ryegrass but multiple on other grasses (i note recent as the literature seems to indicate that chelates have a lot to do with uptake so older studies may not control for this).

    not sure if i can post links but here is a good summary of the studies that are out there http://turf.unl.edu/extpresentationspdf/BCGCSAFoliarSeminar2011 [Compatibility Mode].pdf
    note on pages 11-13 that the uptake of N is in the 80-95% range across the studies - again not ryegrass so could differ but looks promising.

    again thanks for the advice. based on one of the studies it looks like the way to go may be to split the total fertilizer across granular and liquid so i may end up there.

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