Amino acids serve as a food source for soil microbes. Soil microbes use carbon for energy and amino acids are a rich source of carbon. Amino acids are composed of carbon rings that are held together by peptide bonds. The soil microbes are capable of breaking these peptide bonds and consuming the freed carbon. When more amino acids are available the levels of soil microbes produced will be higher.
There seems to be some confusion among professional turf managers as to the exact role these amino acids play. Some superintendents don’t think they need the amino acids in Nature Safe because they use a liquid amino acid supplement with their foliar feeding program.
Liquid amino acid supplements are beneficial to plant health, but they do very little for soil health and provide precious little actual nutrition to the plant. Most liquid products contain between 3% and 6% amino acid. A few products contain forms of predigested amino acids that are capable of being absorbed through the leaves of the plant in very small amounts.
However, liquid supplements cannot supply enough food for the soil microbes by themselves. Even if they were applied on a daily basis and they all got into the soil, they would not be able to supply even one-third of the minimum amount of food the soil microbes would need in a 30-day period.
Most of these products are applied at two to four ounces biweekly or monthly. If a product that contains 6% amino acid is applied at the four ounce rate, a total of 0.24 ounces of amino acids will be applied per 1,000 square feet. Most of this material stays on the leaf surface, but a little will wash off into the soil. That may be enough to do some good inside the plant, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to the needs of the soil microbes.
In most soils, soil microbes require at least 1.5 pounds or 24 ounces of amino acids per thousand square feet per month to stay healthy. Run that through a calculator and you will find that is at least 100 times more amino acids than can be applied with any amino acid liquid supplement. If you apply 1/2 pound of nitrogen per thousand with Nature Safe 8-3-5, you will apply 3.125 pounds or 50 ounces per thousand of amino acids. Now you are talking about over 200 times more amino acids than you could derive from a liquid supplement.
A small portion of these amino acids get taken up through the roots of the plant, but the vast majority of them are consumed by the soil microbes before they have a chance to get to the root zone. These microbes help suppress pathogens, break down thatch, reduce localized dry spot, improve soil structure and perform numerous other functions while they are alive. When they die, they provide carbon dioxide for plant photosynthesis and unparalleled levels of plant nutrition.
That is not to say the liquid supplements are not effective. Some products contain predigested forms of amino acids and work well in conjunction with Nature Safe. The liquid supplements take care of the health of the plant above ground and the Nature Safe promotes plant and soil health underground. Nature Safe can supply copious amounts of amino acids that can be readily digested by the soil microbes with just one application per month. That is why Nature Safe should be the foundation for every good fertility program.