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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was thinking the other day. I have long been a straight chemical fertilizer guy.

Dimension and fert early spring, then a fertilizer/weed control, then summer fert, then fall fert and a winter fert (usually just starter).

Call it the fake scotts 4 step plan, because it is pretty in line but allows control as needed. I use lesco/siteone products as recommended and it has worked pretty well.

Last year I added propiconazole and this year milorganite was the big change. However, I have not dropped any of my other treatments, hence this post.

Am I supposed to back off all the other chemical fertilizers like a 25-0-6 if I am using Milorganite?

When we deviate from the normal standard into the lawn crazed folks that we are, what is the annual lawn treatment cycle supposed to become?

GrassDaddy is using shampoo and biological fungicides while adding milo, etc, but then has also discussed step 1 as the first treatment in some videos. I know there is surely 100 different answers, so I am simply looking for a guide. I just picked up another 25-0-6 bag for a few weeks from now, but I also just put 5k worth of milo last week.

I do not want to start putting too much. the obsession is young in me and sometimes I over do things, so before I cause catastrophic damage, I thought it was best to ask. If I need to change what I am doing, I want to make sure I am making the appropriate changes to my old and new fertilizer schedule.

As reference, this is what I have done this year:

April 8:
- 50# 12-0-0 with dimension
- 90# (3 bags lime, 5k sqft each)

April 15:
- 50# 18-24-12 fertilizer

May 20:
- Propiconazole 14.3%, whole yard

May 22:
- 3 x 36# Milorganite (front only)

June 3:
- 50# 25-0-6 Fertilizer
- 20# Sevin, Insect control
- 2 x 10# Bayer, Insect control

June 24:
- 2 x 36# Milorganite (front only)

July 3:
- 40# Eagle 0.39% Granular Turf Fungicide (10k sqft)
 

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A KBG/rye mix likes 3-5 lb/k of nitrogen a year and most of it should be in the fall. I suggest late August, late September, and late fall (a quick release nitrogen when grass has stopped growing but the ground hasn't frozen) for three applications in the fall (1 lb/k each) and then one application in late spring. Any organic fertilizer should be done when the soil is warm, while the microbes are active. So you could use an organic fertilizer for the late spring or early fall applications, maybe even the middle fall one. Milorganite is one choice (to get 1 lb/k nitrogen, use 20 lb/k). You can also use various grains: soybean meal, alfalfa pellets, cracked corn or cornmeal, cottonseed meal. And there are other organic fertilizers. An organic fertilizer feeds the soil life and the organisms release the nutrients gradually, and the plant uses the inorganic forms of the nutrients released by the organisms. If you get into feeding soil life as a way of fertilizing, you may want to give consideration to how insecticides and fungicides affect the soil life.
 

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Another thing to keep in mind: organic fertilizers often lack potassium. The synthetics usually have some potassium. You could use both kinds (one kind now, another kind later) and plan to get potassium from the synthetic applications. Or supplement the organic applications with some potassium from a potassium source. A soil test would let you know if you need phorphorus or potassium (or other nutrients) or if there is already plenty in the soil. Organic fertilizer can be more expensive (you use more product) but not necessarily. This spring I fertilized 6k with 150 lb of cracked corn and it cost around $25. I was pleased with how well the grass responded.
 

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You can mix organic and synthetic just fine. I only mention the step 1 because a lot of people are afraid to use liquids and mix and spray, I used to be in that boat.

+1 on the soil test. Many people add things but don't know if its necessary. Or they miss other things because they didnt know it was deficient. I do a test every spring and compare.
 

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5.6ksqft Bewitched KBG in Fishers, IN
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I second Virginiagal recommendations. There is one organic fertilizer that does have potassium, alfalfa pellets (~3-1-2). I like using cracked corn (~1.65-0.65-0.4) since it is easy to apply. I just dropped a 50lb bag a few minutes ago. I like the alfalfa pellets more, but it is a bit of a pain unless used during the rainy season. The pellets take a while to break down and it looks like a flock of Canadian geese spend the day in your yard.
 

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Organic fertiizer is especially useful for alkaline soils and low CEC soils. In alkaline soil, phosphorus tends to bind up with calcium and is then unavailable to the plant. If you use an organic fertilizer, the phosphorus is released gradually and so there is likely to be some around. The phosphorus from the organic fertilizer can get bound up too (or consumed by another organism) but if there is a continual release, the plant has a better chance of getting what it needs. Iron is less available in alkaline soil. Milorganite has chelated iron which doesn't get bound up in alkaline soil, so it is a good way to add iron. Foliar sprays can also be used. Low CEC soils don't hold into nutrients well. A slow release of nutrients from the soil life gives low CEC soil a better chance of getting sufficient nutrition. Nutrients from synthetic fertilizers would tend to leach away quickly in low CEC soils.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Virginiagal said:
A KBG/rye mix likes 3-5 lb/k of nitrogen a year and most of it should be in the fall. I suggest late August, late September, and late fall (a quick release nitrogen when grass has stopped growing but the ground hasn't frozen) for three applications in the fall (1 lb/k each) and then one application in late spring. Any organic fertilizer should be done when the soil is warm, while the microbes are active. So you could use an organic fertilizer for the late spring or early fall applications, maybe even the middle fall one. Milorganite is one choice (to get 1 lb/k nitrogen, use 20 lb/k). You can also use various grains: soybean meal, alfalfa pellets, cracked corn or cornmeal, cottonseed meal. And there are other organic fertilizers. An organic fertilizer feeds the soil life and the organisms release the nutrients gradually, and the plant uses the inorganic forms of the nutrients released by the organisms. If you get into feeding soil life as a way of fertilizing, you may want to give consideration to how insecticides and fungicides affect the soil life.
that is a lot to take in, but it surely shows there is a science to it all and it is not all about just throwing fertilizer, etc.

I think my next step will be a soil test. I know my soil is dirt on top, followed quickly by lots and lots of clay. It is super dense, to the point the screwdriver test sometimes makes you think there is something in there. it is crazy.

In the above schedule, are you suggesting it is possible to not put anything down June, July and most of August as far as fertilizer? Or is this based strictly on a soil test and the appearance/need of the lawn? I was under the impression that in order to maintain that green I need to feed the beast.

When talking cracked corn, are we talking like this? https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/producers-pride-cracked-corn-50-lb
 

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Yes, cool season grass growth slows down in the summer because of the heat. It's often under a heat and drought stress. Roots die back. We should not force growth on it then. The grass is not going to look its best in summer. It's a cool season grass. It's fine to use phosphorus or potassium in the summer (if needed) but nitrogen should be limited. If you have a problem (damage of some sort) a little nitrogen will help it grow it of it. But as a general thing, avoid nitrogen on cool season grass in the hot part of summer. Most fertilizer for cool season grass should be in the fall.

Yes, that is the cracked corn.

If you are hitting hard things with your screwdriver, you might have rocks or debris buried in the ground. Try it after a good rain and see if it's still hard in those spots.

North American Proficiency Testing website has lists of private labs for soil testing. Many land grant colleges offer soil testing for residents. Search for "extension office" and your state name.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I was planning to use this one:
http://agsci.psu.edu/aasl/soil-testing/soil-fertility-testing

I assume all I need is the basic test:
Each sample is analyzed for water pH, Mehlich buffer lime requirement, and for phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium by the Mehlich 3 (ICP) test. The final report includes the chemical analysis of the soil along with lime and fertilizer recommendations for the crop specified. For agronomic crops, Mehlich 3 zinc, copper and sulfur are also reported.

There are additional testing items at the link. Let me know if you feel any of the extras are needed.
 
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