What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

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SeanBB
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What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by SeanBB »

Hi everyone,

I see a lot of people on herer use Milorganite as an all around organic fertilizer but I was wondering if any of you use any other options? Do you use anything out of the norm, or something odd that works really well? What is your fertilization schedule?

Personally, my lawn is new so I'm still waiting to see what works long term. I have paspalum turf so it has different requirements than other varieities so I'm trying to dial in what I should use to keep the lawn looking good. With organics it's so hard because you dont see the impact of what you've put down for a while after application.

Right now I have been using fish emulsion, kelp fertilizer, and a mix of Bio-Turf and Bio-Fish from Down To Earth fertilzers. When I laid down the sod I raked in 8#'s of Sure Start to get the turf going.

Are you all sticking to the N recommendations for a particular variety or are you just laying down fertilizer when you think you are having a deficiency? Are you only going on the recommendations of the manufacturer or are you winging it? I am not too concerned about burning the turf with organics but I am concerned with long term buildup of thatch growth from excessive nutrients.

I can't wait to hear what you all are using and why.

Cheers!

Sean

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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Buffalolawny »

I use

25ltr of 4:1.5:3 Fertiliser per 125m2 - fortnightly
Seasol at foliar rate - Alternate fortnightly
Powerfeed at foliar rate with Seasol application at half rates - monthly
Granular urea - whenever

https://www.mckaysgrassseeds.com.au/pro ... eader-25l/
https://qldorganics.com.au/products/organic-xtra/
https://www.seasol.com.au/home-garden/products/seasol/
https://www.seasol.com.au/plant-food/pr ... powerfeed/
https://www.richgro.com.au/products/nat ... /urea-4kg/

Maybe Aussie but info is there.

Increased Microbes and worm activity. Goes into stress slower and recovers quickly.

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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by SeanBB »

looks interesting @Buffalolawny I am going to check out those links!

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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Deadlawn »

You probably have already seen what I use, Sean, but I'll post for others to see.

I use mostly the Espoma line of organic fertilizers since that is what my garden center carries.

As I have posted before, I really don't consider Milorganite organic as it is derived from sewage. Sewage has much more in it than human poo. Remember that people dump toxic chemicals down their drains.
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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Green »

I'm mostly Organic in Spring/Summer and mostly synthetic in Fall.

My current organics naturals are Milorganite/biosolids for a little P and Iron, combined with a Phosphorus-free organic product called Protene. It also contains a natural, renewable form of Potassium--Sunflower Hull Ash--instead of Potassium Sulfate (which is mined, I believe).

I also sometimes use Screamin' Green as one of my two biosolid apps. And that and Carbon Earth fert both contain chicken manure.

In regards to deadlawn's post above: the word organic probably should not be used for biosolids. The word natural can be substituted. I'm a proponent of these products as long they're not being used on food crops, because the biosolid recycling into fertilizer is better for the environment than dumping them directly into waterways. That said, I'm careful not to consistently apply multiple high rate applications per year like some people who live on biosolids with their lawn. 1-2 low rate apps per year, and maybe a third app if I need a starter fertilizer. Part of this judicious use is also to do my part to avoid Phosphorus pollution (not to mention prevent my soil P level from going too high). Like alcohol, etc., biosolids can be used in moderation.

If you can get the Scotts organic Natural 11-2-2 in your area, it can be a good choice too, but it's been illegal in my state for years now. No one has answered me as to why.

Sustane is another great product, but expensive these days.
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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Deadlawn »

Green wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:29 pm
I'm mostly Organic in Spring/Summer and mostly synthetic in Fall.

My current organics naturals are Milorganite/biosolids for a little P and Iron, combined with a Phosphorus-free organic product called Protene. It also contains a natural, renewable form of Potassium--Sunflower Hull Ash--instead of Potassium Sulfate (which is mined, I believe).

I also sometimes use Screamin' Green as one of my two biosolid apps. And that and Carbon Earth fert both contain chicken manure.

In regards to deadlawn's post above: the word organic probably should not be used for biosolids. The word natural can be substituted. I'm a proponent of these products as long they're not being used on food crops, because the biosolid recycling into fertilizer is better for the environment than dumping them directly into waterways. That said, I'm careful not to consistently apply multiple high rate applications per year like some people who live on biosolids with their lawn. 1-2 low rate apps per year, and maybe a third app if I need a starter fertilizer. Part of this judicious use is also to do my part to avoid Phosphorus pollution (not to mention prevent my soil P level from going too high). Like alcohol, etc., biosolids can be used in moderation.

If you can get the Scotts organic Natural 11-2-2 in your area, it can be a good choice too, but it's been illegal in my state for years now. No one has answered me as to why.

Sustane is another great product, but expensive these days.
Your points are well taken here. However, I can't say I can use the word "natural" either for biosolids as people dump all kinds of nasty stuff down their drains - bleach, drain cleaner, etc. That being said, using biosolids as fertilizer is probably still better overall for the environment than using synthetics. Biosolids have a slower release form of N which is less likely to leach and end up in waterways. Not to mention the tremendous amount of fossil fuel necessary to create synthetic fertilizers is not sustainable. There will never be a shortage of biosolids even if there is a shortage of Milorganite:

https://www.milorganite.com/blog/milorg ... ces-supply

OMG, a shortage of human s***!

Seriously, so biosolids are overall better for the environment than synthetics. Personally, I think poultry manure is a better choice with nearly the same analysis and is also somewhat alkaline, so will help neutralize acidic soils.

As far as your state outlawing certain fertilizers, sometimes it seems like there isn't a lot of reasoning as to what is allowed and not allowed. We know that excess N and P can pollute waterways and cause dangerous algae blooms. Some states have outlawed P in all lawn fertilizers except for starter fertilizers, but still allow high fast release N fertilizers. IMO, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense considering that P helps plants grow better roots which will help plants avoid drought stress and prevent water shortages. But people still want their lush deep green lawns. In another thread, I was made aware that Maryland doesn't allow corn gluten to be spread at the pre-emergent application rates because it is a N source (even though it's slow release), but they still allow chemical pre-emergents.

OK, time to get off my soap box.
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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Bermuda_Rooster »

I'm late to the party but thought I'd share my hybrid approach. This was my first season with a poorly-sodded bermuda front lawn and freshly-seeded bermuda back lawn. I'll share what I did this year, and what I expect to do differently next year. Unless I identify a specific deficiency, the only materials I intend to apply for fertilizer are organics in the form of meals, pellets, and possibly emulsions, and urea to supplement the nitrogen since Bermuda is such an N-hog.

This year, here's what I did to accelerate grow-in and thickening:

* Urea sprayed weekly at a rate of 0.5 lb N per thousand sq ft
* Low NPK organics applied monthly at a rate of 20 lbs of product per thousand sq ft (products include soybean meal, alfalfa meal/pellets, cracked corn*)

Organics started in March and end in October. Urea started in May and ended in September. Two notes on this:

(1) Cracked corn only works if you mow high, and bermuda likes to be mowed low. I will not use it again but it can be great for taller grasses.
(2) That rate of urea is off the charts and I DO NOT recommend it for anyone's maintenance program. I was trying to get a lousy stand of bermuda to fill in, and it worked for that. But I was also mowing every other day and still breaking the 1/3 rule when I did. Again, DO NOT recommend for anything except bermuda and only to accelerate filling in.

So with that said, my plan for 2021 is modified to the following:

* Urea sprayed biweekly at a rate of 0.25 lb N per thousand sq ft
* Low NPK organics applied monthly at a rate of 20 lbs of product per thousand sq ft (products include soybean meal and alfalfa meal/pellets. May spray the occasional emulsion like fish or seaweed.). This means just 1 bag per month for me.

That cuts back total nitrogen from ~2.5 lbs per month to ~1 lb, which is much closer to what bermuda needs for maintenance.

Two other notes:

* I try to avoid all herbicides except pre-em (prodiamine), and avoid all fungicides and insecticides unless absolutely necessary. A healthy soil biome should help avoid the need for these.
* I also apply wood heating pellets (50-100 lb per season) to add organic carbon, and regularly spray sodium laureth sulfate to help water penetration. I do these because I started with what is basically clay subsoil as my topsoil.

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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by ColeLawn »

I'm very new to this, but Milo at bag rate (Thanksgiving feed) went down this weekend. This is my first official fertilizer in my first official house. It's going to be a long process, but hopefully by next fall I am top dressing/over seeding.

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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by always_creative »

Deadlawn wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:30 am
As I have posted before, I really don't consider Milorganite organic as it is derived from sewage. Sewage has much more in it than human poo. Remember that people dump toxic chemicals down their drains.
In this case, "organic" means derived from an organic source (i.e. an organism... milo is derived from people poo). That's in contrast to a "synthetic" fertilizer which is either a mined or factory-produced mineral salt.

The word "organic" can mean a lot of things other than just environmentally friendly agriculture practices. For example, organic chemistry is the study of carbon-chain molecules, so by that definition petroleum is organic.

It still a smart caveat that Milorganite is processed from sewage and likely contains traces of all the nasty stuff people put down their drains. I myself just cleaned some paint brushes in my kitchen sink an hour ago (Sherwin Williams Harmony, fairly benign). I'd just be careful to get too hung up on a sematic bias.

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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Deadlawn »

always_creative wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 6:20 pm
Deadlawn wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:30 am
As I have posted before, I really don't consider Milorganite organic as it is derived from sewage. Sewage has much more in it than human poo. Remember that people dump toxic chemicals down their drains.
In this case, "organic" means derived from an organic source (i.e. an organism... milo is derived from people poo). That's in contrast to a "synthetic" fertilizer which is either a mined or factory-produced mineral salt.

The word "organic" can mean a lot of things other than just environmentally friendly agriculture practices. For example, organic chemistry is the study of carbon-chain molecules, so by that definition petroleum is organic.

It still a smart caveat that Milorganite is processed from sewage and likely contains traces of all the nasty stuff people put down their drains. I myself just cleaned some paint brushes in my kitchen sink an hour ago (Sherwin Williams Harmony, fairly benign). I'd just be careful to get too hung up on a sematic bias.
People poo is organic. All the other stuff people pour down their drains such as, but not limited to bleach and drain cleaners are definitely not organic. No way to separate people poo from all the other nasties in sewage.
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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by always_creative »

@Deadlawn while that may true, I am skeptical that a concerning level of those contaminants is going to make it into the fertilizer. I genuinely don't know to what extent wastewater contaminants are biologically persistent enough to make it through the treatment process, or how many of those contaminants still exist at appreciable levels in the finished product, but I suspect its not gigantic.

I definitely don't fault anyone for concerning themselves with chemical toxicity, but personally find it hard to believe that biosolid fertilizer contains contaminants at a problematic concentration. Still, the precautionary principal is a safe way to look at things, and its easy enough to find alternatives. I personally don't use biosolids because there are other options with less phosphorus and I'm in an area where algae blooms are a real environmental problem.

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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Deadlawn »

always_creative wrote:
Tue Dec 01, 2020 12:44 pm
@Deadlawn while that may true, I am skeptical that a concerning level of those contaminants is going to make it into the fertilizer. I genuinely don't know to what extent wastewater contaminants are biologically persistent enough to make it through the treatment process, or how many of those contaminants still exist at appreciable levels in the finished product, but I suspect its not gigantic.
Hmmm. The filtration process is filtering the contaminants including the biosolids out of the water which will be discharged into waterways. How do you filter toxic substances out of human poop?
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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by always_creative »

@Deadlawn this is only loosely related to any sort of expertise I have, but sewage treatment involves many other processes than just filtration. Once stage, bio-digesters, breaks down the biomatter into more basic forms. A lot of other substances also get broken down into less noxious forms in the digesters, which means they aren't persistent in the end product, not everything just stays in the same form forever. Household bleach (sodium hypochlorite)is highly unstable and immediately breaks down into other compounds in an aquatic environment, which means there's no bleach in your sewer waste compost. Mercury, on the other hand, is a biologically persistent metal that does hang around and cause problems and I would guess increases in concentration in the digester. It's absorbed through food though, so it's only a danger to the end user if you plan on eating your grass.

Dose matters too as a factor of safety. Zinc is a helpful nutrient at low doses, but high doses can give you flu-like symptoms called Heavy Metal Fever, and very high doses can kill you. I got Heavy Metal Fever once from welding galvanized steel without a respirator, 1/10 do not recommend making the dumb mistakes I did at 19. Should I avoid zinc in my diet?

Dilution is often a solution in the world of toxic materials. I am very familiar through my work with remediation of soils containing arsenic, and the standard practice is to simply till the soil until you've mixed it enough that arsenic concentration drops to a level deemed safe by the EPA (in the US). Any property that previously grew apples is likely to have a lot of arsenic on site, and for the most part it was dealt with just by mixing the top 24" of soil. The safe level is one at which it is thought to not be harmful to human metabolic processes.

In theory, milorganite is made from drying the composting microbes rather than feces themselves. I have no idea whether that's a real statement or a marketing hoop they jump through. But the various transformation processes do make the end product less dangerous than what was put down the drain. As for what is left, considering dose response, I just find it hard to believe that I can get enough "bad stuff" from a few lbs of milorganite to put myself or my family or my local ecology at any sort of risk. But I do lack any real data to back up that assumption, so feel free to take any precautions you want.

Source on the bleach: https://ec.europa.eu/health/archive/ph_ ... _o_082.pdf

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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Green »

There was, about a year ago, something that elevated to near scandal level dealing with PFAS in biosolids fertilizer, namely the MA variety which was named in the accusal (but turned out not to differ from others). Long story short, the problem ended up not being the product but rather the usage of the chemicals in the environment in the first place. The fact that they were transferred through the fertilizer making process meant that humans were ingesting and excreting them in amounts that could cause alarm, prior to any fertilizer being made! In other words, they were already in the environment and the source was not a fertilizer product! Despite that, there were people who wanted outlaw this class of fertilizers entirely and instead dump both the already-made product as well as future raw materials from the waste stream, into heaps as "toxic waste"! Not only would that prevent recycling of the waste which helps the environment, but it would also release huge amounts of carbon pollution into the air instead of locking it up in the soil where it belongs (which really is the whole point of using natural fertilizers, at least as far as sustainability is concerned, in my opinion).
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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Green »

@always_creative, a lot of people don't realize that bleach deteriorates into salt water over time. The lower the concentration, the less stable the solution is, and the shorter the shelf life. I found this out when I was diluting bleach and looked it up. Not that salt water itself isn't useful, too. But it's not going to stay bleach forever...similar what you described, which makes sense in this context.

For anyone reading this who didn't know it: Basically, bleach gets less concentrated over time, and after enough years, even the most concentrated formula you can buy will degrade into something more stable (salt water).
Front: Northern mix - mostly TTTF, KBG, TTPR. Back: Firecracker and Bullseye TTTF with America, Rugby 2, Bewitched KBG. Upper Side: Mostly TTPR, KBG. Lower Side: similar to front. Low-input: TF/FF, KBG, PR. Always seeding somewhere or fighting Triv.

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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Deadlawn »

Green wrote:
Tue Dec 01, 2020 11:41 pm
@always_creative, a lot of people don't realize that bleach deteriorates into salt water over time. The lower the concentration, the less stable the solution is, and the shorter the shelf life. I found this out when I was diluting bleach and looked it up. Not that salt water itself isn't useful, too. But it's not going to stay bleach forever...similar what you described, which makes sense in this context.

For anyone reading this who didn't know it: Basically, bleach gets less concentrated over time, and after enough years, even the most concentrated formula you can buy will degrade into something more stable (salt water).
I'm no chemist, but doesn't chlorine evaporate over time? And granted that salt isn't all that great for your soil, but in the grand scheme of things, the amount of salt released is probably trivial compared to what is leached when roads are salted in wintertime.
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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Green »

Deadlawn wrote:
Wed Dec 02, 2020 7:53 am
I'm no chemist, but doesn't chlorine evaporate over time? And granted that salt isn't all that great for your soil, but in the grand scheme of things, the amount of salt released is probably trivial compared to what is leached when roads are salted in wintertime.
We are talking about bleach that's closed up in a fairly tight bottle, so it can't easily go from liquid solution into the air, because the bottle is holding the liquid. It's not chlorine gas dissolved in water. But sodium hypochlorite solution does decompose into NaCl and Oxygen. Presumably the Oxygen, since it's a gas, escapes from the bottle over time...leaving the salt solution behind.

If it gets mixed with certain other chemicals, it can react into chlorine gas...that is dangerous.
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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by uts »

I like how baystate classifies their fertilizer as "organic nitrogen fertilizer" which is a very apt description.

On a secondary note the company does publish levels of heavy metals in their fertilizer. I am sure if someone wanted more details they would provide those.

Image

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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by Deadlawn »

Green wrote:
Wed Dec 02, 2020 12:50 pm
Deadlawn wrote:
Wed Dec 02, 2020 7:53 am
I'm no chemist, but doesn't chlorine evaporate over time? And granted that salt isn't all that great for your soil, but in the grand scheme of things, the amount of salt released is probably trivial compared to what is leached when roads are salted in wintertime.
We are talking about bleach that's closed up in a fairly tight bottle, so it can't easily go from liquid solution into the air, because the bottle is holding the liquid. It's not chlorine gas dissolved in water. But sodium hypochlorite solution does decompose into NaCl and Oxygen. Presumably the Oxygen, since it's a gas, escapes from the bottle over time...leaving the salt solution behind.

If it gets mixed with certain other chemicals, it can react into chlorine gas...that is dangerous.
More like the oxygen gas escapes once it's in the sewage system.

Yep, there have been numerous sitcoms where someone mixed bleach and ammonia and passed out. When I was in college, I had a summer job in a fast food restaurant. One of the Einsteins there decided to mix these chemicals thinking it might clean better than either one. I wasn't there when this happened and luckily nobody passed out, but that employee wasn't working there much longer.
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Re: What organic fertilizer do you use and what's your schedule?

Post by always_creative »

@uts that's awesome info! I'm surprised by the lead level, probably from old pipe solder.

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