It’s officially time to apply fertilizer in the southeast on our Bermudagrass properties. I love this time of year. I’ve come to realize that I am actually busier in the spring than the summer, and fertilizer is one part of that. We made a switch 3 years ago to fertilize with Spread it and Forget it with Duration. I absolutely love this product. It has saved me labor by only having to apply one time, and I do not get the peaks and valleys in the growth curve that you will with traditional fertilizer.
It also was a more sustainable choice than traditional quick release products. Since it is slowly released, we do not see the volatilization typical with urea fertilizers. This enabled me to drop our rates. 4 years ago with traditional products, we applied 4 lbs. of nitrogen per thousand square feet on our Bermuda throughout the season. The first year I used Spread it and Forget it, we dropped that to 3.5 lbs. Last year, we dropped to 2.75 lbs. because I added a product called Holganix to our program and they claimed I could drop my rates by half.
I do not typically believe claims like these coming from product manufacturers. I love trying new products and fertilizers, but typically I do not see the fantastical results that they promise. Occasionally I do. Holganix has become one of the good products. Even though we dropped our rates almost 25% last year, we had to mow more often. In fact, we had to mow 2-3 times a week vs our old schedule of once! Obviously this was not intended, but they look of the property was amazing.
This year we are dropping our rates even further. Last weekend, we applied 1.9 lbs. of nitrogen per thousand sq. ft. That is over a 50% drop from our rates 4 years ago. I fully believe that we will see good results and applying rates this low will allow me to make more sustainable product choices next year. We are even trying a test area with zero fertilizer! I am expecting to apply some quick release products throughout the year, but hoping to keep the total less than 1 lb. of nitrogen.
If we are successful with rates under 2 lbs. of N, I am going to switch to an organic source of fertilizer next year, completely eliminating synthetic products. This would be a major advance for our sustainability programs and I hope that we can make it happen. There are some really advanced, unique organic products on the market that have some really good back stories.
Take a look at some of these products. They are worth a try. If you are a contractor and you are unsure how you can make money using them, contact your local rep. Others have figured it out, and you can too. I am very proud of our progress to use less nitrogen and other nutrients in our agronomic program yet produce award winning results. Baby steps are fine, but you have to be ready to leap when the time is right.