Most superintendents who use Nature Safe as a regular part of their fertility program have found that fungus diseases attack their turf less frequently and with less severity. We know that we can control some diseases such as Necrotic Ring Spot by fertilizing with Nature Safe on a regular basis and totally eschewing fungicides. On other diseases such as Brown Patch, Dollar Spot and even Snow Mold, Nature Safe will usually have a suppressing effect, but it will not totally eliminate them. Our research work and field experiences have shown reductions of these diseases in the twenty-five to fifty percent range over untreated plots. Having greens or tees that have fifty percent less disease than untreated areas makes for wonderful research data, but it will still get the golf course superintendent fired. Obviously, the club management expects to have no disease at all. Yet some organic purists and even some makers of organic products would have you to believe that if you are on an organic program, you cannot use any chemicals at all, or you will supposedly destroy the effects of the organic products being applied. Evidently, you are supposed to live with some disease on your turf because you are using organic products. Try explaining that one to the greens chairman at an exclusive country club.
All of our work at Nature Safe would indicate that we get better results where chemicals are used in moderation along with a regular Nature Safe program. In other words, we are seeing a synergistic relationship between Nature Safe and the fungicides. To better understand this apparent contradiction, consider for a moment what happens when you spray an insecticide in an attempt to control flies or mosquitoes. When you spray, you do not kill only the flies or the mosquitoes, you also kill many other species of insects. Some of these species may be quite beneficial, such as spiders or honey bees. Others may not seem to be beneficial directly to man, but they all have a role to play in the overall scheme of things. Much the same thing occurs when a fungicide is applied to turf. If the original target was the organism that causes Brown Patch, that is not the only organism that is killed. Usually a wide range of soil borne microorganisms will be killed. Some will be pathogenic organisms, but many others will be beneficial organisms.
One of the characteristics of most beneficial organisms is their remarkable ability to reproduce themselves quite rapidly if a food source is available to them. When Nature Safe is the regular fertilizer on a given plot of turf, the beneficial organisms will reproduce much more rapidly than the pathogenic organisms because Nature Safe provides the food energy needed for reproduction. That means that the ratio of beneficial organisms to pathogenic organisms is being changed following a fungicide application. The end result is higher levels of beneficial organisms and lower levels of pathogenic organisms. Is it any wonder then, that we continually see a lower incidence of diseases where Nature Safe is used? This does not mean that we can totally eliminate the use of fungicides at any point in time, but it does mean that we can probably reduce the rate and/or the frequency of chemical applications. Some golf clubs have reported reductions of over twenty-five percent in their chemical budgets after switching to a regular Nature Safe program.
Bear in mind, however, that Nature Safe is not a magical formula or a one shot, cure all product. When Nature Safe is applied to the turf, it is not really a fertilizer. There is nothing in Nature Safe that a plant can use for food when it is first applied. Nature Safe is really food for the soil microbes, not a fertilizer. It takes the beneficial soil microbes approximately three to four weeks to consume all of the food in Nature Safe after it is applied. During that three to four week period of time, we achieve the maximum population levels of the beneficial microbes. Some of these microbes have life cycles that are as short as twenty minutes. As they die off, they release nutrients in forms that the plants can utilize. However, while they are living, they are competing directly with the pathogenic organisms and helping to keep them in check. Therefore, for maximum effectiveness, Nature Safe must be applied at least every 21 to 28 days in order to keep the beneficial soil microbe levels at their peak.