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P Fact or Fiction?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Russ, Mar 4, 2003.

  1. Russ

    Russ LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 540

    I just read an interesting article.

    What are your thoughts?

    Phosphorus Fertilization

    From: Karl Danneberger
    Phosphorus fertilization has garnered considerable press lately. In Minnesota for example phosphorus applications are banned because of levels found in surface water (whether it is true or not is due to lawn fertilization is irrelevant at this point). In a few other communities phosphorus can only be applied if soil test results show phosphorus to be low. On golf courses, phosphorus levels are monitored through soil test reports, however for the lawn care market this is much more difficult to do on a large geographical area.
    Phosphorus is a major element that is especially critical during turf/seedling establishment. In mature stands phosphorus is critical component important in the energy (ATP) required for growth. Deficiencies show as a slowing of growth and eventually phosphorus deficient symptoms can appear (bluish color leaf blades). A proper balance between soil phosphorus levels and that needed for growth is both environmentally sound and necessary for maintaining quality turf.

    Dr. Wayne Kussow at the University of Wisconsin wrote a recent article (Phosphorus fact or fiction Landscape Management 42:56-58,60,62) where he mentions 2 general hints that might help you plan your phosphorus program. The first is major nutrient analysis of leaf clippings remains rather constant for turfgrasses. The ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P2O5) and potassium (K2O) roughly falls in a 4:1:3 ratios. By using a fertilizer with an N: P2O5 ratio of 4:1 you will roughly maintain the current soil test levels of phosphorus. If you use a ratio less than 4:1 such as 2:1 or 3:1 you will contribute to the phosphorus levels in the soil. On the other hand if you use a fertilizer ratio greater than 4:1 like 8:1 or 10:1 you will slowly deplete the phosphorus in the soil. You can either build-up, maintain, or deplete phosphorus levels over time by the fertilizer you use.

    In addition, from research at the University of Wisconsin, it takes roughly 1 lb. P2O5/1000 sq.ft. /year to maintain soil test levels when clippings are removed. If clippings are returned that amount drops in half to 0.5 lb. P2O5/1000 sq.ft. /year. Phosphorus levels in the soil are impacted by climate, growing season, and soil texture to name just a few. However, the 4:1 ratio and 1 lb rule for clippings removed is a good base to start designing a phosphorus fertility program
  2. SWD

    SWD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 988

    Based upon the soil reposrts and clipping analysis - that sounds about right.
    When I pull soil for examination on the course I maintain, I do that differently than for home owner turf. Cost and turf useage are the bigger factors here.
    One of the factoids your article failed to report was turfgrass acting as a buffer for all types of leaching into ground water and adjacent surface water bodies. Through mismanagement, leaching can/will occur - that is why a good soil test report is needed - and not from the pocket pH meters either.
    However, when proper management of the turfgrass site is maintained through appropriate practices which include a good soil test (CEC, reserve hydraulic conductivity - etc), the turfgrass acts as a darn good buffer strip by halting leachates into the ground water.
    The latest empirical study that supports this fact is from Penn State, around 96 or 97 and was conducted by Dr. Thomas Watchke.
    You can never be to careful!
    Thanks for the posting

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