The Root of the Matter
TPI Turf News
If turfgrass growers have on thing in common, it is roots. The better their newly seeded turf establishes roots, the more quickly and efficiently they can harvest their crop. While most turf management is aimed at attaining a green, thick and dense canopy, turfgrass producers face the added task of needing to achieve thicker, denser root systems. How long this takes and the costs involved are among the challenges to running a profitable sod business.
Matt Holloway, production head, Quantico Creek Sod Farms, Hebron, MD, knows these challenges well. The familiy-run business has supplied sod to hundreds of customers along the Eastern Seabord for nearly a decade and counts the University of Maryland, Washington Monument and Capitol Buildings in D.C. among its clients. “Our main focus has always been customer satisfaction,” says Holloway, “so we are always open to new technologies and products that support our commitment to delivering a quality product.”
Maintaining a competitive edge was what led Holloway to try Crystal Green® fertilizer (5-28-0 +10% Mg) in fall 2010. Created from wastewater, the fertilizer can serve as a replacement for traditional phosphorus (p) in fertilizer blends. It does not tie up in the soil like more soluble forms of P and is thus available to the roots on a steady basis over a much longer period of time. Two applications can provide nutrients for a full year. Its slow-release profile results in significantly less leaching and runoff compared to more soluble products.
Holloway tried Crystal Green at seeding time, starting with 150 of his 1,000 acres. Instead of using the high phosphorus-based blend normally used at seeding, he applied just three percent P in a 22-3-4 blend using Crystal Green as the source of P. This was 75 percent less P than he normally used, and the only application of P to the crop during the entire season, he said. After just a few weeks, he fertilized an additional 150 acres with Crystal Green and then another 150 acres after that.
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