Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

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Smolenski7
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Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by Smolenski7 » April 4th, 2020, 6:22 pm

I read today that applying a fertilizer like Milorganite or Bay State while the soil temperature is relatively low, I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I assume soil temperatures in the northeast at this time would qualify, is almost a waste of time. The reason given is because the microbes in the lawn are not as active as they need to be.....say compared to late spring or early summer.

Anyone have thoughts about this? I had never really considered it before.

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Re: Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by andy10917 » April 4th, 2020, 6:29 pm

The microherd wakes up at around the same time as the grass wakes up - when soil temperatures get into the fifties. No active microherd, no processing of organics -period. The coincidence is probably not coincidence - the timing is probably evolution.

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Re: Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by PSU4ME » April 4th, 2020, 8:49 pm

You’ll get some nitrogen kick out of it as I think there is some quick release in it but the rest is produced by the herd processing the material.

I’m not one to force my grass to wake up so I usually wait at least the month of April before I consider adding any.

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Re: Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by Smolenski7 » April 4th, 2020, 10:01 pm

I haven't taken it's temp. yet, but it has to be in the mid-50's I would guess. It's shown signs of life over the last 7-10 days. A bit early this early, which is great. I'm just waiting for the ground to dry out a few days before I drive my tractor on it.

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Re: Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by ken-n-nancy » April 5th, 2020, 8:34 am

Smolenski7 wrote:
April 4th, 2020, 6:22 pm
I read today that applying a fertilizer like Milorganite or Bay State while the soil temperature is relatively low, I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I assume soil temperatures in the northeast at this time would qualify, is almost a waste of time. The reason given is because the microbes in the lawn are not as active as they need to be.....say compared to late spring or early summer.

Anyone have thoughts about this? I had never really considered it before.
Personally, I think an early spring of Milorganite or Bay State is far from a waste of time, but the reason probably isn't what one would think...

One of the problems with early-season application of conventional synthetic fertilizers is that they tend to push grass growth before the grass is really ready to grow in the spring, leading to stress on the plants. However, since a biosolid fertilizer doesn't really become effective until biological processes get going, the early-spring application doesn't actually start to have a significant effect upon the grass until the right time -- the same time that the grass is starting to grow and needs the nutrients. Not too early, not too late -- but just right.

So, that early spring application of Milorganite or Bay State is an easy way to make that first fertilizer application as early as the grass can start using the nutrients, without forcing an early wakeup of the lawn.

Just my two cents, and completely unsupported by a specific scientific study on the topic.


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Re: Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by andy10917 » April 5th, 2020, 8:52 am

K&N, I'm actually a disciple of that approach, but it's not a one-size-fits-all thing IMHO. I'm not as crazy about it where the property is sloped, prone to very heavy Spring rains, etc.

I've come around to trying to time it around the time that the Forsythia bloom, so to have it "ready-to-go" without exposing it to risk of washout or pooling, while not holding off too long.

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Re: Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by fun4me2 » April 5th, 2020, 9:06 am

I was able to find some milo (very expensive) so bought only 2 bags. (fixed income here)
I'm going to concentrate only on my front lawn (2,500 sq. ft) with Milo and fertilizer.

Last fall I fertilized in Aug. with a little Milo and applied Halts
Sept. with Scotts Turf Builder 32-0-4 and repeated the Scotts in Nov.
My grass is waking up nicely.
My plan is to feed it a little Milo at the end of the month (April), and a little more mid May.
1/2 bag each application.
Then the 32-0-4 Memorial day.
The 2nd bag of milo I will use in August.

The backyard, which got the milo and Halts in Aug and fall fertilizer Sept and Nov is waking up nicely also.
It will only be getting 32-0-4 fertilizer memorial day.

I

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Re: Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by ken-n-nancy » April 5th, 2020, 12:35 pm

andy10917 wrote:
April 5th, 2020, 8:52 am
K&N, I'm actually a disciple of that approach, but it's not a one-size-fits-all thing IMHO. I'm not as crazy about it where the property is sloped, prone to very heavy Spring rains, etc.
That's a good point -- that washout can be an issue with "pre-applied" fertilizer. I often forget that not everybody's lawn is thankfully as flat as ours is -- slopes and heavy rains are a bad combination! Thanks for the reminder!

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Re: Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by Smolenski7 » April 5th, 2020, 10:04 pm

ken-n-nancy wrote:
April 5th, 2020, 8:34 am
So, that early spring application of Milorganite or Bay State is an easy way to make that first fertilizer application as early as the grass can start using the nutrients, without forcing an early wakeup of the lawn
This makes total sense to me, and it's definitely something that I have thought of in the past. However, it begs another question that I think I know the answer to, but I'm going to ask it anyway. If an early spring application of Milorganite or Bay State is a great way to make sure the grass gets those much needed nutrients as soon as the plant needs it, what the heck is that last application of Urea in the fall for?

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Re: Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by andy10917 » April 6th, 2020, 7:33 am

It's simple, really -- top growth stops 3-4 weeks before root growth stops, and the grass plant switches to storing nutrients instead of applying them for top growth. These nutrients are used first when growth resumes in the Spring. There is a tendency for the grass plants to break dormancy earlier when the stored nutrients are available.

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Re: Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by Smolenski7 » April 6th, 2020, 10:04 pm

andy10917 wrote:
April 6th, 2020, 7:33 am
It's simple, really -- top growth stops 3-4 weeks before root growth stops, and the grass plant switches to storing nutrients instead of applying them for top growth. These nutrients are used first when growth resumes in the Spring. There is a tendency for the grass plants to break dormancy earlier when the stored nutrients are available.
So, that response is pretty much what I was expecting.....except for the word "tendency." If there is only a chance the plant comes out of dormancy earlier with a late fall/early winter application of nitrogen, then wouldn't it be more efficient and economical to simply put down an early spring application of your favorite organic blend and skip the late fall/early winter app.? This way, I know for sure that the plant is getting what it needs right away.

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Re: Soil Temperature and Orgaic Fertilizer

Post by andy10917 » April 7th, 2020, 7:31 am

The word "tendency" is because there are too many factors that come into play to guarantee much of anything in lawn and garden care. My experience tells me that there is a higher rate of success when the grass already has the nutrients stored in the plants than betting on good timing in the Spring. Lawns generally green-up earlier if the Fall Nitrogen is already present, and there is a second factor to consider too - applying the fertilizer in Spring feeds the weeds too. Fall fertilizer is not available to Spring-germinating weeds.

It's all up to the person doing the lawn care, and their decisions. I like the factor that the lawn greens-up faster and I don't have the possibility of Spring rains washing-out the "organics" before they get processed by the microherd.

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