liquid fertilizer

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by steve grubbs, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,172

    Very different materials. Sulfate of potash is neutral in reaction applied to the soil and neutral if dissolved in water. KTS or potassium thiosulfate will acidify soil and is alkaline in solution. There is also a matter of solubility period. I cannot get enough sulfate of potash into solution to make it worthwhile as a K source for a liquid program.
  2. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,172

    In acidic clay soils, dependent on calcium levels, a good nitrogen source is calcium nitrate. This is almost like liming the soil minus the dusty mess and slow reaction. On acidic soils, most of my N comes from calcium nitrate instead of ammonium sulfate. In another thread, I detailed three or so different soil conditions I deal with. The fertilization program changes dependent on the soil. I do not have the good fortune of one type of soil. A one size fits all "lawn fertilizer" blend might get the grass green. But at what long term cost?
  3. Falcon50EX

    Falcon50EX LawnSite Senior Member
    from GA
    Messages: 994

    Ted, its been a little over two weeks since you posted this what do you think. I sprayed my front yard with 3oz per thousand of GMS 6000sqft at .73gal per thousand form a Z four weeks ago it looks good.
  4. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    I will agree Calcium Nitrate is a very good source of N on acidic soil and helps to build strong Stems or faster Greens. But on my Calcareous sand Ammonium Sulfate is a better choice both Agronomics and Economics.

    Sulfur or Sulfates of all kinds are Hard to keep in a liquid suspension. But by using more Carrier (in my case 5 Gallon per K) sulfate of potash or Potassium sulfate (which ever way you call it) will stay in suspension with good agitation. I believe those using a small amount of carrier will have a lot of trouble with any Sulfur materials. I might also remind every one Sulfur is a Macro Element not a micro.


    Here is a thing I wrote about Fertilizer many years ago. It is copyright 2002 protected. I have posted it before.

    What is fertilizer?

    There are 17 chemical elements used by a plant as nutrients to make there own food. The roots of a plant will only up take what it needs no matter how much is there. Fertilizer burn occurs when we apply too much in an un-useable form. Fertilizer chemicals must be broken down into a useable form in the soil by microorganism. Fertilizer burn occurs when water first activates it and energy in the form of heat is given off. Salts are also given off as these compounds break down. If we apply too much fertilizer we can in fact poison the soil with salt.

    The life cycle of the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom work together. We use oxygen (O2) and give off carbon dioxide (CO2). Plants use CO2 and give off O2. Plants make their own food from photosynthesis. That is the energy of the sun and the right temperature plus air and water to make carbohydrates. Therefore Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen are primary elements. Carbohydrates are the food and we can express this chemically: 6 H2O + 6 CO2 -----> C6 H12 O6 + 3O2 or simple sugar and oxygen.

    Primary Elements

    Carbon, C, is used in photosynthesis. Plants get carbon from both air and soil. Carbon is essential for all life forms and is the key of organic chemistry.

    Hydrogen, H, is supplied by water. The logarithm of free hydrogen ions, pH, is a measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution or mixture.

    Oxygen, O, is a part of water and air. Oxygen is used in respiration and transpiration by living organisms. Oxidation is a process of chemically breaking down other elements.

    Nitrogen, N, causes cell elongation and division (growth). It is important for the development of all tissue in a plant, but it is most important for leaf growth Nitrogen fully translocates systemically within the plant and leaches readily from the soil. Pound for pound it is one of the cheapest fertilizer chemicals to produce and shows the greatest response (green) in plants. For this reason fertilizer manufacturers overuse this product.

    Nitrogen Deficiencies, cause reduced growth rate of the entire plant, then loss of color on the older leaves. Then older leaves turn yellow and a general decline occurs on the entire plant.

    Phosphorus, P, is important in root development, flowering, fruiting, and germination. Phosphorus fully translocates systemically within the plant and is subject to leaching in the soil depending on its form. The Jacksonville area of Florida. has a problem with phosphorus contamination. Our area is rich in phosphorus and it has been mined here since the 1890s to the present. Most fertilizer blends sold in our area are low in phosphorus. The need for high phosphorus blend fertilizer is new sod, sod plugs, gardenias, and bird of paradise plants.

    Phosphorus Deficiencies, cause purpling of lower leaves first, then move on up the plant and reduce flower production.

    Potassium, K, develops vascular flow, which is important for flowering, stem strength, vigor, disease resistance and overall hardiness. Its most important contribution is root development for drought stress resistance. Potassium fully translocates systemically in the plant. Potassium leaches readily from the soil. I personally like to use potassium on a one to one ratio with nitrogen even though it is a more expensive fertilizer.

    Potassium Deficiencies, first cause yellowing between veins of older leaves, then yellow specks in the veins. Leaves finally turn brown on the outside margin.

    Secondary Elements

    Macro Elements

    Calcium, Ca, is essential for plant strength. Calcium does not translocate within a plant, nor does it leach from the soil. Luckily our soil has more than its share of calcium. Calcium nitrite is the cure for weak flushes of growth and fruit rotting at blossom end. It helps high traffic area turf.

    Calcium Deficiencies, cause weak stem growth or growth of soft leaves.

    Sulfur, S. functions with nitrogen to produce growth and photosynthesis. Sulfur compounds helps to reduce pH. Acid forming fertilizers are important in our area and use sulfur or sulfur combined material. The label on fertilizer will state whether sulfur is free or combined. Sulfur does not translocate in the plant but does leach out of the soil.

    Sulfur Deficiencies, first cause yellowing on new growth then the entire plants slows its growth. Finally the plant goes into decline. If you have ever put fertilizer on turf and had areas grow but turn yellow, you have seen what a sulfur deficiency can do. Sometimes if we leave these areas alone they green up. The reason is that nitrogen breaks down in the soil first and is in useable form before sulfur.

    Magnesium, Mg. Commonly available as Epson's salt is more important in maintaining green on older leaves but also helps new tissue. It helps in photosynthesis and helps to green up plants. Magnesium is mobile in the plant or translocates. It also readily leaches from the soil I have personally found it to make strawberries sweeter but cannot prove that.

    Magnesium Deficiencies, cause older leaves to show yellowing between the veins. It looks like yellow triangles if you step back. On palm trees older fronds will yellow or brown early. Palm trees that have long ground sweeping green fronds do not have Magnesium or Manganese deficiencies.

    Micro Elements

    Iron, Fe. Plays a major role in photosynthesis and helps keep our plants green. Iron does not translocate in the plant. Iron will become soil bound in high pH soils and unavailable to the plant. Iron does not leach from the soil.

    Iron Deficiencies, first signs are lack of dark green color on new leaves. Lack of iron causes yellowing between veins of the newest leaves first, and the green veins appear narrow. Soils with pH of 6.5 or higher lock up iron and it is unavailable to the plant.

    Manganese, Mn. is used in photosynthesis and helps to keep our plants green. It is essential for new tissue development. It does not translocate in the plant and is stable in the soil. It does not leach.

    Manganese Deficiencies, also cause yellowing between the veins of new leafs. Veins appear wider than iron deficiencies. On palm trees frizzle top or yellowing on new fronds is the result of Manganese deficiencies.

    Boron, B, is essential to development of new tissues. It does not translocate in the plant. and does not readily leach from the soil.

    Boron Deficiencies, cause interveinal or tip and marginal yellowing on new leaves as well as distorted and brittle, small leathery leaves.

    Copper, Cu. is essential to development of new tissues. It does not translocate in the plant and it does not readily leach from the soil.

    Copper Deficiencies, cause young leaves to become cupped, wrinkled or roughened. New leaves yellow overall or between veins and tip burn can be present. New twigs die back.

    Zinc, Zn. is essential to development of new tissue. It does not trans-locate in the plant and it does not readily leach from the soil. Yes, this is word for word the same as B Cu and Mo.

    Zinc Deficiencies, cause yellowing between veins on newest leaves first. New growth is tiny pointed narrow leaves.

    Molybdenum, Mo. is essential for development of new tissue. It does not translocate in the plant and it does not readily leach from the soil.

    Molybdenum Deficiencies, lead to distorted new leaves and stems. B., Cu., Zn., and Mo. all show the same or similar signs of deficiencies. These elements are generally sold as a minor element package, either liquid, water soluble power or granular. It is not important to know which element is deficient. Only to, treat the signs with minor elements.

    Chlorine Cl. has only recently been found to be essential for plant life. Its primary function and how it works is not known. So we do not know what the signs of a deficiency are. Chlorine is a byproduct of the chemical manufacturing of fertilizer. Too much chlorine can poison the soil and burn plants. If you ever spill swimming pool chlorine on your yard you will see this for yourself. If you do not treat this with gypsum it might be a long time before you have grass. The lower the percent of chlorine in a bag of fertilizer, the better.

    Nickel Ni is another element found to be utilized by Plants. However how it is used has not yet been determined. Agronomy is the oldest science known to man yet it is one of the sciences that man knows the least about.

  5. ted putnam

    ted putnam LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,758

    I wish I'd sprayed mine when you did or even earlier. We had a couple nights of light frosts at least a week ago. This area where I applied is primarily an eastern exposure and was somewhat protected but lawns I service around here already have exposed areas with the "squiglies" that form from the frost settling in lower pockets in the bermuda. I've gotten calls from customers who thought they had worms:dizzy: I'm expecting at least one of those calls any time now:laugh: Long story short, I didn't see much in the way of results. My fault. I waited and shouldn't have. So you are pleased with the results of the GMS??? You applied half the rate of GMS I did with almost 50% more carrier?? What type of turf do you have? I am central Arkansas I believe I was told the analysis on it was 10-20-10. I was thinking a chelated micromix might do well with it especially in light of what Ric has posted. Your thoughts on this?? I am eager to experiment with actively growing turf.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011
  6. ted putnam

    ted putnam LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,758

    I am also wondering if applying nutrients in a purely foliar form such as this might help in the control of diseases. We were absolutely riddled with disease this year and the 2 main culprits were ones that I had rarely if ever seen in the past. Pythium and Take All Patch. That and the 39 or so days we had over 100 decimated turf everywhere around here this season.
  7. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,172

    One observable benefit of a prescription all liquid program is the reduction of disease. The worst offenders in my area are dollar spot, leaf spot and Take All Patch. Not managing these issues with smart fertilization practices and irrigation means that a lawn can be on fungicides 12 months out of the year. Since going to all liquids, I only have occasional trouble with dollar spot and that is if it is rainy and hot for more than a few days. It is rare for the weather to be that way. Its either raining and cold or hot and dry.
  8. ted putnam

    ted putnam LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,758

    I am glad to hear this is the case. I thought this to be so considering the nutrients are applied to the top portion of the plant and they do not settle in the thatch layer where many of the harmful fungi develop. It will be interesting for me to see considering this is all new to me.
  9. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,172

    I am imagining that it has more to do with what is being fed to the grass rather than where it is being applied. My typical mix is high K, high Manganese and iron, with no 46-0-0 or urea. I am not doing sprays that involve a couple of bags of urea, maybe some potassium chloride and that is it. My spray is much more comprehensive than that.
  10. Falcon50EX

    Falcon50EX LawnSite Senior Member
    from GA
    Messages: 994

    Well no frost in my area, but I am 90 miles south of Atlanta. I over-seeded my front lawn with perennial rye for the first time. Part of the overall look is form the new grass PR. It looks really good considering the lawns on either side of me are going dormant. I will spray it again next weekend. I have used chelated micromix and have had excellent results and good idea to mix the two I will try it in the spring. I have a mix of 50% Burmuda and 45% Zoisa 5% centipede. The analysis is right and that is what is said on the side of the one gallon jugs I have.
    Off topic I am still looking for the right interchangable spray tips for my backpacks and hand cans. I did find an awesome wand for my Z but it has a cone tip i am going to remove and replace with a flat fan.

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