The summer of 2010 has already been brutal in most areas of the country and it is projected to get worse. This appears to be the summer from Hell with the continual heat and humidity followed by drenching rains that saturated the soil. This forecast is expected to continue until early fall. The heat and saturated soils are devastating to cool season turf, causing plant roots to deteriorate. In addition, the warmer soils made it easier for soil borne diseases and nematodes to flourish. The end result is poorly rooted turf that can easily succumb to hot temperatures and other stress factors.

Nature Safe 5-6-6 is the product that was designed to be used in these situations. The most important reason to use 5-6-6 is for the high concentration of 7% calcium from bone meal that enhances root growth. When one pound of nitrogen is applied to the turf, 1.4 pounds of calcium are being applied and it is all chelated. That means it is attached to an amino acid complex. This chelation makes the calcium much more available to the plant and it keeps it from being chemically tied up in the soil. The chelated calcium causes an elongation and branching of the roots which produces a deeper and more fibrous root system. It helps the plant to replace the roots it lost during the stress periods.

When growing turf on sandy soils, such as USGA spec greens, it is particularly important to use chelated calcium. Frequently, turf that is being grown on sand has a limited root system due to calcium deficiency. The healthy roots may go down quite a ways into the soil mix, but they aren’t big and bushy. Even though the percent calcium base saturation level may be quite high, the C.E.C. may be 2.0 or less. That means that a major portion of the limited number of soil storage sites that are available are being occupied by calcium, but there still may not be enough available to produce good rooting in plants. If calcium is applied to the soil in a chemical form it tends to replace some of the potassium and magnesium that are stored in the limited number of soil storage sites. Any K or Mg that is displaced by Ca in a sandy soil is then subject to leaching. The type of chelated calcium from bone meal in Nature Safe does not displace any of the K and Mg, but it is very available to the plants. The result is improved root masses and healthier plants that can make better use of the nutrients and water that are available in the soil.

The phosphorus in 5-6-6 is also derived from bone meal and it is also chelated. Here too, the chelation helps to keep the phosphorus from being chemically tied up in the soil, making it more available to the plants. That also promotes a better root system.

Of course the most important reason to use 5-6-6 at aeration is for the amino acids that feed the soil microbes which in turn nourish and protect the plants. When 5-6-6 is applied at the rate of one pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet and dragged into the aeration holes, a total of 6.24 pounds of readily digestible amino acids are being applied. Therefore, 5-6-6 delivers more pounds of amino acids per pound of nitrogen than any other product we make and tremendously more than any other similar product that is manufactured by other companies. These high levels of amino acids help to speed the recovery of the summer stressed turf and it hastens the turf’s ability to recover from the damage it suffers during the aeration process. The end result of using 5-6-6 at aeration is a healthier, denser turf with improved rooting and improved soil structure that will help the plant survive the coming winter and be healthier next spring. If Nature Safe is used again next spring it will help to make the plant better able to withstand the rigors of another summer from Hell. The time to start preparing for next year is this fall at aeration. Waiting until next spring may be too late.