In recent months there have been several reports of problems that arise in sand based greens when organic matter accumulates in the root zone. The accumulation of organic matter reduces the infiltration rate of the sand mix. Because of this, some turf managers question the use of organic fertilizers.
Some organic fertilizers contain substantial amounts of ash and other materials that are difficult for soil microbes to digest. For example, the ash content of manure based products can be impacted by the amount and type of bedding materials mixed in with the manure. Since soil microbes cannot digest ash, it builds up in the soil profile and clogs up pore spaces between the sand particles. Once these pore spaces become plugged, I know of no way to open them up again.
Organic fertilizers like sewage sludge contain nutrients in the form of denatured proteins that have been exposed to extreme heat. The result is the soil microbes have difficulty digesting these proteins and releasing the nutrients. These materials also contribute to the plugging up of pore spaces. In very warm conditions, excessive growth may result by an increased release of the accumulated nutrients in the soil.
The major culprits in the accumulation of organic matter in the root zones of sand greens are old roots, stolons, crowns, and other plant parts. Turf plants constantly die off and are replaced by new plants. With most species of turf grasses, no plant lives for more than three years. That means at least one-third of the plants die every year. The dead plants that remain in the root zone contain high percentages of materials like lignin and cellulose. These hard to digest organic materials collect in the root zone regardless of the type of fertilizer that is used.
There is evidence to suggest that this accumulation is more rapid with synthetic fertilizers than with organics because synthetic products do not produce carbon to feed the soil microbes that break down accumulated organic matter. Synthetic fertilizers can produce significant amounts of organic matter in the root zone through flush growth.
Nature Safe fertilizers contain animal proteins that are processed using low temperatures and steam pressure making the nutrients very available to the soil microbes. The low ash and high protein/amino acid concentration in Nature Safe increases soil microbe activity and accelerates the decomposition of accumulated organic material in the root zone. This insures better infiltration rates and leaves little to plug pore spaces. The slow even feed of Nature Safe also prevents growth surge in hot weather.
When you use Nature Safe year after year, expect superior results from a value-added nutrient package for optimizing IPM program effectiveness.