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urea formaldehyde vs. Novex

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by ThreeWide, Aug 24, 2004.

  1. ThreeWide

    ThreeWide LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,116

    Anyone out there using UF type fertilizers or Lesco's Novex?

    I am looking into using one of these types next year exclusively. Since my service is largely based on reel mowing bermuda, I like the potential benefits these offer by limiting surge growth.

    Under these programs, I can potentially reach a once per week mowing schedule instead of the twice per week when using standard forms of urea.

    I would like to know what results you have seen with either of these.
  2. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    Urea Formaldehyde has been made for many years. Back in the 1920's it wasn't just intended to be fertilizer but rather was also an early attempt to create what we know today as Plastic. I have antique radios whose cabinets are made from the stuff.

    Since the urea is reacted with Formaldehyde (a preservative) it's molecular patern (referred to as chains) becomes more complex (or less soluble) during the manufacturing process. At this point much of the Nitrogen becomes Water Insoluble.

    UF has been marketed as Powder Blue, Ureaform, Nitroform, Nutraform, etc.

    We then call UF (and Methylene Ureas which are an improvement) "Reacted" fertilizer. Reacted Nitrogen sources mimic natural organic sources in that water alone won't release all of the Nitrogen. Microbial activity (bacteria) is needed to get all the N to release (solubilize).

    There are varying degrees of solubility to reacted fertilizers. These degrees must be considered to decide if they're going to perform as expected.

    Free Urea Nitrogen: lasts up to 28 days
    Water Soluble Controlled Release N: 21-84 days
    Hot Water Soluble Nitrogen: 70-168 days
    Hot Water Insoluble Nitrogen: 2-10+ years

    The free urea might seem like the biggest waste of money since it isn't slow release at all. But at least the treated plants do get to realize that portion of Nitrogen.

    The Hot Water Insoluble N (HWIN) is also a problem since we cannot recover that N during the same growing season & some of that N will never be recovered at all.

    UF yields about 10% Free Urea & 50% HWIN. So only 40% of the N is exhibitting the patern of release that we're after.

    Therefore many efforts have been made to increase the middle two types of release (WSCRN & HWSN) to reduce the Urea & HWIN factions.

    Thus was born the Methylene Ureas. MU has been marketed as Nutralene, etc. MU exhibts 13.5% Free Urea & 8% HWIN. Therefore the middle faction was improved to 58% which is a big improvement over UF's 40%.

    NOVEX utilizes a newer manufacturing process that continues to increase the middle factions of solubility. It's free Urea is reduced to 8% & the HWIN is reduced to 16% so the middle faction is improved to 76%. That's a very big improvement.

    I've been involved with non-published NOVEX trials on athletic turf for a few years now. We have applied as much as 5 lbs of N per 1000 at one time with no adverse effects. Growth was not excessive on clay soils & lasted from May through November or about 6 months.

    I know of another nonpublished trail were as much as 9lbs/N/M was applied using every commercially available slow release Nitrogen source made today. At 9 lbs/N/M all the turf plots were dead except for the NOVEX treated plots though the 7lbs/M rate was judged the superior stand of turf over all other sources & rates.

    I have only realized sales of NOVEX to companies who are engaged in monthly billing of season long service contracts. In these case, straight 100% NOVEX makes sense since it greatly reduces labor. In one case, the company is required to apply 5lbs/N/M per growing season by the contract according to the sites horticulural engineer. Where they used to apply 1lb/N/M 5 times per year, they now apply 4lbs/N from NOVEX one time & 1lbN from soluble Urea N another time. They then save the labor of 3 applications which exceeds the value of the additional material expense. So they save money while still delivering the goods.

    Most of the commercial acceptance I have seen is inb the form of blends with other sources of N like PPSCU & Urea. For conventional LCOs who visit & invoice on the 6-8 week schedule, this seems to make the most sense. In this case, the NOVEX keeps the turf from starving between rounds better than other sources.

    Sand based greens, tees, & athletic fields see the biggest advantage from straight NOVEX at all rates.

    Zero Phosphorous homogeneous fertilizers are also possibloe with this technology.
  3. fertit

    fertit LawnSite Member
    from 97034
    Messages: 36

    Nitroform was developed in the late 1940's, not 1920's. It is a superior slow-release product. Try it. Forget the hype on Novex-
  4. greenerpastures

    greenerpastures LawnSite Member
    Messages: 160


    Excellent review of uf.

    Your comments on Agrotain's uflexx/umax technology would be appreciated.
  5. cemars

    cemars LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 387

    Tremors post said UF was developed int the 1920's which is correct, a number of patents were filed in the mid 1920's.
  6. fertit

    fertit LawnSite Member
    from 97034
    Messages: 36

    Among the manufactured slow and controlled-release fertilizers, ureaformaldehyde based products still have the largest share worldwide.
    This is also the first group on which research concerning slow release
    of nitrogen was carried out. As early as 1924, Badische Anilin- &
    Soda-Fabrik AG (nowadays BASF Aktiengesellschaft) in Germany
    received the first patent (DRP 431 585) on urea-formaldehydecondensation
    fertilizers (BASF, 1965). In the United States they were
    patented for use as fertilizers in 1947. Commercial production began
    in 1955 and at present five types of urea-formaldehyde fertilizer
    products are manufactured as solids and liquids (water solutions and
    water suspensions) in the United States (GOERTZ, 1993a).
    Furthermore, whereas in the past urea-formaldehydes had an AI of about 40 to 50, more recent urea-formaldehyde formulations are reaching AI-values
    of 55 to 65, 'contrary to what Tremor stated.'
    The Association of American Plant Food and Control Officials
    (AAPFCO) are setting an AI of 40 as a minimum with at least 60% of
    its nitrogen as cold water insoluble nitrogen (CWI N) and a total content
    of nitrogen of at least 35%. Unreacted urea nitrogen content is usually
    less than 15% of total nitrogen.
    The release pattern of nitrogen from UF fertilizers is a multi-step
    process (dissolution and decomposition). In general there is some
    proportion of N slowly released; this is followed by a more
    gradual release over a period of several (3-4) months depending on the type of product. However, the release pattern is also influenced by the temperature and moisture as well as by soil organisms and their activity.
    In general urea-formaldehyde fertilizers show a significant slow
    release of nitrogen combined with a good compatibility with most crops.
    Because of their low solubility they will not burn vegetation or interfere
    with germination. Since they are more effective at higher temperatures,
    they are widely used in warmer climates (in the Mediterranean region
    in Europe and in the southern and southwestern regions of the United
    States). (Dr. Martin E. Trenkel)
  7. cemars

    cemars LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 387

    Whats your point?
  8. sniggly

    sniggly LawnSite Member
    Messages: 190

    I typed it like that to get through what appears to be an impending dispute over whose research gets the upper hand.

    I am one of those LCO's that bills monthly for my programs, which are tailored to each lawn. Lot of work for me but my lawns look the part.

    Haven't made the change, but I have been very interested in the impact of Novex, or even some of the Lebanon ProScape products in my business. Specifically the impact of having significantly less time involved in the labor related stages of my programs. I currently use Lesco fert's but have always been slaved to what my dealer will supply (and trust me, they don't call to find out what I would like to use), and of course, what I view to be substandard chem's (SCU / MOP).

    The products would HAVE TO SUPPLY ACTIVE RELEASE PERIODS IN EXCESS OF 16 WEEKS in order for me to justify what I would pay down here. Can I really expect active release periods of 16-18 weeks out of these product types? Any information you can contribute on this issue would be greatly appreciated.


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