To better understand how Nature Safe is able to suppress pathogens, you first have to understand a little more about how pathogens work. First, you have to understand that pathogens are good survivors but poor competitors. Pathogens don’t compete well with the beneficial soil organisms, but they survive by staying in a dormant state most of the time, so they don’t have to compete.

Secondly, pathogens are opportunistic in nature. Stressed plants are known to send out distress signals called pheromones. These signals cause the pathogens to emerge from their state of dormancy and begin to rapidly build their numbers. Interestingly enough, insects also respond to these signals. It is roughly analogous to sharks going into a feeding frenzy after they smell blood in the water. As the pathogens build their numbers they begin to attack the weakened or stressed plants first. Anything we can do to reduce stress on a plant will increase its resistance to pathogens. Nature Safe helps to reduce stress on plants in many ways that are above and beyond the suppression of pathogens.

Thirdly, when pathogens are suppressed the beneficial organisms break down organic matter in the soil and they produce gases that are lethal to pathogens. Recent work by Dr. George Lazarovits at the Southern Crop Protection and Food Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in London, Ontario, Canada has shown that these gases are not toxic to biologically active organisms but they are lethal to organisms in their dormant stage. That is why these gases do not harm the beneficial organisms that are actively working. They are only lethal to the pathogenic organisms that are in their dormant stage. Beneficial organisms do produce chemical substances that inhibit the growth of active pathogens. However, these chemical substances do not exhibit the same degree of lethality on the active pathogens as the toxic gases from organic decomposition do to the dormant pathogens.

Given that scenario, you do not want to wait until the pathogens are actively working to begin to apply Nature Safe. Instead, applications should be made early in the season when most of the pathogens are still dormant. This strategy will help to reduce the populations of pathogenic organisms before they can get out of their dormant state. Likewise, continue applying Nature Safe late in the season to reduce the pathogens that might be present next season.

The fact that the gases being produced in the breakdown of organic matter tend to be lethal to dormant pathogens helps to explain why turf fertilized regularly with Nature Safe during the growing season is much more resistant to winter diseases such as snow mold. The operative word here is regularly. One or two applications of Nature Safe per season is not going to produce the same results as monthly applications throughout the season. The pathogens that cause cool season diseases are dormant all summer, so the toxic gases from organic decomposition can kill them. By the time the cool weather arrives there are very few pathogens left that can attack the plants.

Nature Safe is not a biofungicide. Nature Safe will not stop pathogens that are running wild, but if applied regularly, can be remarkably effective in keeping the pathogens from building up their numbers.