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Do you have enough?

I recently discussed how we can use fertilizer ratios to simplify how much fertilizer we apply to help us keep above the MLSN guidelines . When we get a soil test done it is a static amount of nutrients found in the soil. Even if you are above the MLSN guidelines at the time of testing, it doesn't guarantee that you will remain at or above the guidelines as the grass grows and consumes nutrients. There is math that you can use to determine exactly how much nutrient you need to apply to ensure that you remain at or above the MLSN guidelines. For many, this is much too complicated. For that reason I made a quick cheat sheet to help you determine how much of each nutrient you can expect to use each year based off a few different annual nitrogen rates. Nutrient use is based primarily on nitrogen use so the left 2 columns are a few different nitrogen rates. The columns for each nutrient are in PPM and are designed to help you look at your current soil test PPM (mehlich 3) and determin
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How to quantify nutrient content in liquid fertilizer

In a recent post, I discussed how it was actually cheaper to spray soluble vs granular fertilizer. What about if we use pre-mixed liquid fertilizer? How do we even figure out how much nutrient we are applying with pre-mixed liquid fertilizer?  Before I learned that you could simply dissolve soluble fertilizer in water and apply it in a sprayer, I was a big user of pre-mixed liquid fertilizers. One of the issues I initially had was figuring out exactly how much of each nutrient I was applying. The math wasn't as straightforward is it was with granular fertilizers. It turns out, it's actually not that difficult but requires an extra step.  First, we need to convert the liquid volume into a mass. Many products will have the product density displayed on the label or you can look in the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for that information as well. No SDS? Should you be using products without an SDS? Even if this information isn't included on the label it is very easy to figure out. All

Does size matter?

When you make a fertilizer application, do you calculate the rate using the size of the greens, or the size of the area the fertilizer was applied to (spray area)? Unless you have a super high tech GPS sprayer with individual nozzle control, you likely also fertilize some of your green surrounds, collars and approaches when you fertilize your greens. This isn't a bad thing and can actually have a bunch of benefits. I talked all about this in a recent post where I discuss precision and whether or not it is actually useful or not on a golf course . Let's pretend my greens are 1ha in size and I apply one 25 kg bag of urea to that area. The rate would be 1.15g N/m^2 (25,000g urea x 46% N/g urea / 10000 m^2/ha = 1.15). If we include the overspray the area we applied fertilizer to turns to 1.2 ha. This changes our application rate to 0.96g N/m^2 which is 17% less! 17% is a pretty big number especially when spread out over a year. I have seen some examples with turf software where you

Does it cost more to spray soluble fertilizer on our golf course?

I often receive criticism from people who say that the fertilizer savings I have found from using soluble fertilizer sources and the MLSN come at a cost of higher sprayer usage. I normally tell them "nu uh" but maybe it would be better if I looked into it a bit more closely. We used to spend upwards of $30,000 on fertilizer for our golf course. In the past few years we have averaged $6000. This is a savings of $24,000 per year on fertilizer by spraying soluble source fertilizer as required by the MLSN and my growth rate targets. Our annual cost of ownership for our Toro Workman Multipro Spray System on Workman HDXD 4wd chassis is $22,122. This includes everything from the cost of the lease, parts, equipment maintenance labor, fuel and labor to operate the machine for the first 5 years of its service life. Right away we can see that this strategy saves us about $2000 a year vs using granular fertilizers and other nutrient guidelines. We aren't even taking into account the

Rainbird Central Controller Pro Tips - Temporary station adjust

In a previous post I outlined how I use sub irrigation classes to assign different crop coefficients (CC) to different parts of the golf course . This allows me to prioritize and micromanage the moisture depending on moisture demand. I also explained how I often have to make adjustments to these sub classes depending on the sun angle and the changing moisture demands for the time of the year. Even though we are big users of digital moisture meters we still mainly rely on our eyes to make adjustments to water. It's still too difficult to measure the entire golf course every day but your eyes can see moisture stress from a mile away. You can also notice areas that are too wet by how the grass feels under your feet. It's good to walk the course every day if you are the one make the adjustments to the irrigation central. When we notice that an area needs more water it is often when the soil VMC is well below where we want it. We are essentially at the wilt point and can see the moi

Brute force, minimalism or somewhere in between?

When I was a lot younger, I aspired to one day work at a big budget golf course where I could use all the greatest tools and fancy fertilizers and chemicals. Being from an extremely low budget golf course, I often felt bad about my situation as I learned about all the "solutions" to my problems as I read the latest trade magazines but realized that we didn't have the resources to do any of these things. I thought that this brute force tactic was the only way. It wasn't until I learned about "minimalism" that I started to realize that there was a different way to approach my profession that would not only produce great playing conditions for our golfers, but also provide a great deal of personal satisfaction and acceptance from working at a low budget golf course. This was the time I started blogging and the time where I officially became a grass freak! Greenkeepers are weird. Just ask my wife, or John's! I want to preface anything I'm about to say wi

Rainbird Central Controller Pro Tips - Flow Zones and Sub Irrigation Class

For the past 4 years I have had the luxury of using a central controller to control our irrigation system. In my travels and consumption of golf maintenance media, I have never read anything with any substance about strategies that superintendents use to program their central controllers. The literature that supports these software solutions are severely outdated and lacking and there are virtually no online tutorials to help managers improve how they use these powerful tools. This blog post will be my first attempt to share some of the ways I use my central controller to effectively irrigate my golf course. I currently have a RainBird Stratus 2 Central . Sure it looks like it was made in 1998 but it actually has some very powerful features that not a lot of people fully utilize. Flow Zones - These basically tell your computer how much water each sprinkler zone has access to. The advantage of using this system is that it makes it extremely easy to make quick programs for very specific