During the 2011 season at Crofton we are going to be using a large amount of Organic Fertilizers on the turf for fertility. In years past we have used more Chemical than Organic Fertilizers. The debate and thoughts on which one provides the best results is ongoing. However, we have decided that Organic fertlizer will give us the upper hand for the best results at Crofton due to the micro climates and different soils that exist on the golf course. The following paragraphs give a summary and run down of both types of fertilizer, and why we are going with the change for the upcoming season.
Man made Chemical fertilizers always have a high total of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium) from 20% to 60% per bag. The total NPK for Organic fertilizer blends will always be low, 14% is about as high as it gets per bag. The balance of the ingredients in a bag of Chemical fertilizer aside from the NPK are usually made up of inert filler or a chemical that isn't needed. In a bag of Organic fertilizer the NPK are all necessary soil nutrients. Organic means the nutrients came from an animal-plant blend which means every ingredient is important to life, everything in the bag is needed and in correct proportions.
There is very little if any Carbon in a bag of Chemical fertilizer, but a plant or animal is abundant with the element Carbon, in the form of energy as carbohydrates. For the turf to be properly fed with any fertilizer, the microbial life in the soil has to process the fertilizer into a substance that can be absorbed by the turf in correct amounts. In order for the microbes to perform this process they must have energy. Microbes do not have the presence of sunlight and do not have chlorophyll, so the microbes must get their energy from organic material in the soil. In a bag of Organic fertilizer the carbon energy the soil microbes need is already present in correct amounts to perform the task of breaking down the nutrients for the turf.
Organic fertilizers are slower acting than a Chemical fertilizer in producing visual results due to a lower NPK analysis, but Organic fertilizers can be used in higher amounts without the risk of burning the turf, as well as lasting longer in the soil. Another benefit of Organic compared to Chemical fertilizers, is that with a Chemical fertilizer they can quickly dissolve in the sandy soils here at Crofton. This can cause burn to the roots of the plants, and quickly leach into soil depths where the roots cannot uptake the nutrients. Chemical fertilizers also have the potential to pollute the environment due to dissolving fast and being moved out of the soil. The only negative is the odor that might be present for a couple of days. This odor is not that of manure or any type of waste, but that of bone, fish, and feather meals of animals. The inconvenience of the odor for a couple of days will by far be worth it for the results this fertilizer will produce for the turf at Crofton.
Organic Fertilizers contain energy and many other things that continually build soil fertility, crumb structure, increased water holding capacity, food for beneficial soil life, and contribute to the hundreds of other yet-unknown things that cause a turf to be healthy and vigorous. With all of these benefits there for the taking is why we have decided that Organic fertilizers will be our approach with fertility for the turf of the golf course in 2011. With all these benefits we are giving the turf more weapons early to defend against the stress that was endured in the summer of 2010, which will help in producing optimal playing conditions for the entire golfing season.