When examining the outstanding line-up of products in the Nature Safe catalog, most people tend to overlook or dismiss Nature Safe 5-6-6. Perhaps some of them think that there is not enough nitrogen in 5-6-6 or there is insufficient phosphorus and potassium. Whatever the reason, they are overlooking one of the best products that Nature Safe produces.

Our 5-6-6 contains 85% Water Insoluble Nitrogen (WIN), which is more than any other starter fertilizer of which I am aware. That means that the nitrogen you apply to sandy soils will not leach out or volatilize. You will not be wasting Nitrogen or polluting the water table with soluble nitrogen.

Secondly, all of the phosphorus in 5-6-6 is derived from steamed bone meal. That is important because it means that the phosphorus will not leach out of sand greens and athletic fields. Because the phosphorus is in an organic form, the soil microbes have to break it down before it becomes available to the plant. It therefore becomes available slowly in an organic or chelated form that is resistant to leaching and readily taken up by the plant. Since the phosphorus is in a chelated form, it resists being chemically bound up in unfavorable soils. The diammonium phosphate and the monammonium phosphate found in other fertilizers will leach rapidly in sand and have a tendency to become chemically bound in unfavorable soils.

The 7% calcium in 5-6-6 is also derived from steamed bone meal. Of all the nutrients a plant requires, only the requirements for nitrogen and potassium are greater than calcium. Calcium is a vital constituent of cell walls, an essential nutrient for cell division and a neutralizing agent for potentially toxic substances within plant cells. High levels of calcium enhance root growth, particularly the development of root hairs.

The desired levels for calcium in sandy soils is often misunderstood. Turf managers frequently determine their calcium needs by looking at the Percent Base Saturation (PBS) of the soil. If the PBS is at least 80% calcium, they assume they have enough for the needs of the plants. The problem is that PBS tells you what percent of the storage sites in the soil are being occupied by the various cations. If you were to graph it on a pie chart, it would tell you how big each slice of the pie would be. Therefore, if the PBS for calcium were 80%, it would be represented by a huge slice of the graph. Many people make the mistake of thinking that means they have plenty of calcium. What they really need to look at is the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) of the soil. Many very sandy soils have CEC’s of less than 5, while heavier soils can exceed 100. The CEC is a measure of the total number of storage sites that are in a given soil. A very low CEC means that you have a very small pie. Calcium may occupy a huge portion of that pie, but still be inadequate for the needs of the plants.

Even if they are aware of the calcium deficiency in their soils, most turf managers are reluctant to add calcium because they are afraid it will raise the pH since the sand they have used for soil mixes is alkaline. They also know that most forms of Calcium will leach out of sand quite rapidly anyway. Because the calcium in 5-6-6 is in an organic form, it will have very little effect on the soil pH. 5-6-6 is a good way to add substantial amounts of non-leaching calcium to a high pH soil without changing the pH of the soil. In addition to the high levels of calcium and phosphorus, 5-6-6 has is produced with a high quality humus rich in humic acid. The humus conditions the soil, adding water and nutrient holding capacity at the same time.

All of these characteristics make Nature Safe 5-6-6 the perfect product to use for preplant applications when seeding new turf or overseeding existing turf. The phosphorus, potassium and calcium all facilitate seedling germination and establishment, while the humic acid helps to hold extra water and nutrients for the new plants. It is the perfect product to use on sand based greens after aeration. It should be applied at the rate of 1 lb. of actual Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of turf area, and worked into the aeration holes. The 5-6-6 will help turf recover from aeration rapidly, supply non-leachable nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium, and increase nutrient and water holding capacity to the sand.

Nature Safe 5-6-6 is the ideal product for annual flowers, perennials and roses. It is totally safe to use on even the most delicate plants, and will supply large amounts of phosphorus and other nutrients that flowering plants require. Many higher nitrogen, more water-soluble, fertilizers produce an over abundance of green growth at the expense of floral production. On the other hand, 5-6-6 produces healthy green plants and plenty of flowers throughout the season.