How late is too late, Autumn to Fall to be putting down organic matter due to.....

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Exact Rototilling, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    ....declining temperatures and the reduced cycling of nutrients...?

    Examples would be:
    Compost Top Dressing
    Dried Poultry Waste
    Coffee grounds
    Compost Tea

    vs the recommended heavy dose of 65%-75% of the seasons total nitrogen on turf when it is still green...?

    What I'm getting at is when do you jump ship on organics in favor of more synthetic forms of NPK vs Organic and bridge products?
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    There is no need to 'jump ship' on organic products... the microbes are just as active as the plants...

    I remember a fella from Maine, said that he put his lawns to sleep for the winter with a good topdressing of compost in November and had great starts to the Spring greenup...
    I did that and it worked however,,, that is the same as an Early Spring app of N,,, which of course is bad policy, in that N should be done only after the 2nd or 3rd mowing...

    Anyways,,, getting ready for the winter is what the grass will be doing once Summer passes, so getting more fertility into the soil throughout the Fall is what is important, whether it is done synthetically or naturally...
  3. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    I don't think it is quite the same but it would be interesting to see a side by side test. Seems to me that fall compost topdressing would not cause near the same flush of (useless) growth as 1/2# sythetic N applied, say, April 15.

    It has probably been done but let's imagine 6 plots where we:
    1 do nothing Fall or Spring
    2 apply 1# synthetic N Oct 15
    3 topdress with 1/2 cu yd compost/M Oct 15
    4 apply Milorganite at 1/2# N Oct 15
    5 apply Urea (granular) at 1/2# N April 15
    6 apply Milorganite at 1/2# N April 15 (too early, I know)

    And we take photos, examine roots, and measure top growth on April1, April 15, May 1, and May 15. Personally, I rarely put any N down before May 15 and it is usually a week later than that. I will make exceptions, for one season, if no fertilizer has been applied since the previous Spring.
  4. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    I test procedures and fertilizer on my own lawn but I have run out of space. :)

    What I'm getting at is the cost effectiveness of a slow release synthetic product 21-7-14 with "polymer sulfur coated urea" and put down heavy right after Labor day. The effects of this product doesn't really show until 10-14 days.

    My current favorite bridge product is a 14-2-5 with Dried Poultry Waste and I typically apply it heavy. The synthetic portion kicks in around 7-10 days but in side by side testing will out perform the 21-7-14 synthetic product long term since the DPW breaks down organic matter and releases more nitrogen.

    My service area is over a large aquifer and the soil is sandy but this doesn't prevent the large companies from applying huge amounts of product when lawns are dormant and the ground is basically frozen.

    The bridge product is better overall but the cost for the nitrogen for a heavy fall application on the 65-75% of the seasons N is spendy. For the DPW to work....doesn't it need higher temperatures? Using a DPW product too late in the season is probably not the best move.

    Again it boils down to competing with other Co. in the area and the general ignorance of the client base on what is good for the lawn. This is the single most frustrating issue with this business. There is an alarming amount of disinfo in my area.

    In side by side testing Milorganite doesn't perform well and it's expensive when compared to my favorite bridge product 14-2-5 with DPW.

    Looks like I will do be doing a side by side test this Fall.
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Organic Matter, needs to be working its way into the soil to become Soil Organic Matter(SOM) to actually have any value... a pellet of Milorganite sitting on top of the soil is not doing any good for the nutritional value of the roots...
    Microscopic elements becoming water soluable and perculating through the soil profile into the depths of the root zone is the basic image you want to start with...

    Sandy soil becomes brown soil when SOM increases... Clay soil has a much harder time and that is when aeration comes in handy, before the addition of compost...
    There are other and better ways of understanding the movement of OM through the soil such as worms or tiny crustaceans which is also worth noting... the huge unseen networks of fungal mycelium of all different varieties building soil structure at the very basic levels are being fed with Organic Matter...

    The soil is not a giant cake that is put together by a 'recipe' of various ingredients,,, but a living organism that will perform best with a comfortable blend of food, water and air... :)
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Side by side tests have one very limiting flaw: that is it does not address the current status in relation to the long term viability of a turf...

    A good exa: is the guy who dumps a bunch of N on the turf in the Spring... more when the drought hits, and more when the drought continues in the Fall and even more the following Spring when 50% of that lawn is dead soil covered by dead grass...

    It looked superior the first Spring... if looking superior in May of 2012 is your criteria for analysis,,, then dumping a bunch of fertilizer on April 15th is your answer... that is a very narrow view of a complex living organism... :)

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