By Al Lanoie, Regional Sales Manager
It is important to know that any effective overseeding program actually begins several months before the seed is spread. A number of factors should be taken into consideration when prepping an area for overseeding.
Thatch is a primary concern as a prominent thatch build up can inhibit seed germination and increase the difficulty of overseed blends to take root. Repeated light verticutting is recommended for the weeks leading up to overseeding to create a proper seed bed. With many chemical fertilizers, nutrition is made available through water solubility. This can create rapid leaf expansion which leads to increased clippings. Rapid expansion in the turf canopy can also mean shading of lower leaves below the mowing level. Even if clippings are collected, there is increased thatch build up from these shaded leaves. Nature Safe fertilizers produce thicker canopies rather than rapidly expanding leaf production. The use of Nature Safe can reduce the production of thatch as well as aid the decomposition of thatch.
By using the slowly available nitrogen contained in the proteins of Nature Safe, the feast and famine cycle often associated with chemical fertilizers is avoided. Nature Safe feeds slowly by making the nitrogen available to the plant through the life cycle of soil microbes. These living organisms respond to environmental conditions in the same manner as plants. With higher heat and moisture, plants require more nutrition and microbes are more active. In cooler periods, plant growth slows as does the microbe activity. By feeding the soil microbes with protein, Nature Safe provides the raw material for the expansion of the microbe population. A great energy source for soil microorganisms is carbon. And where can carbon be readily found? In thatch, as carbon is a main constituent of plant matter. By providing enough protein for the microbe population to increase, you also put pressure on the existing thatch by making it a food source.
Since Nature Safe has a very low salt index, you do not have to worry about burning newly emerged roots and growing tips. Nature Safe can take three to seven days to start releasing available nutrition and can be used by newly emerging roots at the most tender stage. This provides a large window of opportunity for application.
The slow availability also minimizes any leaching as only a small portion of the nutrition contained is available at any given moment. No worries about a heavy rain taking most of the fertilizer out of the range of new roots. Nature Safe stays in the root zone and provides the feed necessary to establish a solid overseed.
Nature Safe formulas derive their phosphorus from meat and bone meal which is also high in calcium. Calcium is a key component of cell wall construction. Since it is derived from a cooked organic source, it is readily available in chelated form for plant use. This steady and reliable source of calcium results in a hardy, durable plant that can better withstand the demands of traffic and cold temperatures.
Nature Safe can be applied at a rate of one pound of N per one thousand square feet from a few days before planting until up to one week after. It can be used in addition to sand or organic top dress and can be safely mixed with the top dress to reduce application time and labor.
Fall aeration should be done about eight weeks prior to overseeding. If done too close to seeding time, the turf can develop a spotty look as seed over the aeration holes will germinate faster and can show a deeper green. Playability will also suffer.
Statistics show that fewer clubs and sports fields do overseeding than they once did. And even those that do may have reduced the area they overseed. This makes it doubly important that you get all the sales you can from the overseeding programs in your territory, and that you insure the success of those customers who do overseed by promoting the benefits of Nature Safe.