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Spring your lawn into healthy growth

Autumn & Winter Lawn Fertiliser 15-0-22 If you are a good lawn owner, you would appreciate that your lawn needs fertiliser every three months minimum. You will switch from a spring and summer fertiliser to an autumn and winter lawn fertiliser at the appropriate time of the year in a bid to keep the millions of turf grass plants that make up the lawn healthy and disease free, developing the roots and vigour, colour and density.

One misconception is not to apply an autumn and winter fertiliser during the months of October through to late February. Autumn and Winter fertiliser have minimal Nitrogen, some Phosphorus and lots of Potassium in them. The most important nutrient over the winter and early spring months is Potassium for the reasons stated a little later. Phosphorus is mostly in ample supply in the soil as it is a very insoluble nutrient and rarely leached out of the soil. This is why a typical autumn and winter lawn fertiliser may show a zero Phosphorus status like 15-0-22.

Autumn and winter fertiliser are ideal to 'spoon feed' little and often over your lawn in the early spring, like now, so long as the lawn is not suffering from a prolonged frosty spell, the ground is not frozen and you can get on the lawn to apply it without leaving ruts from the fertiliser spreader wheels. Always apply half the recommended rate, making two passes across the lawn at right angles to ensure even coverage on a non windy day. This way, the correct dose rate will also be carefully applied like 17.5 grams per square metre x 2 passes to make 35 grams per single square metre.

Nitrogen expressed as a N on the label analysis. It is the nutrient that is responsible for vegetative growth and mostly colour. It is used by the plant in the formation of chlorophyll molecules, which are involved in photosynthesis. Nitrogen is a very mobile element. When it is deficient, the proteins of older leaves are converted and then transported to the younger ones. The older leaves then become greener and then yellow, before the necrosis (dying) of the leaf blade.

Phosphorus expressed as a P on the label anyalysis. It has been described as the workhorse of a plants nutritional process. Phosphorus is an essential macronutrient contained in every living cell withing the turf grass plants. It is involved in a number of physiological functions within the plant, including: Energy transformation as a constituent of the genetic material of the cell nucleus. It is responsible for Carbohydrate transformations such as the conversion of starches to sugars and also Establishment, Rooting Maturation and Reproduction of the plant. It occurs in large amounts in young tissues, especially in the regions of cell division. As a plant matures, the Phosphorus is transferred to the reproductive areas and eventually accumulates in the seed. It is vital during the seedling stage of turf grass growth and development; therefore, phosphates should be placed near the seeds during planting to aid rapid establishment. It also stimulates root growth and branching (tillering) and seed setting is enhanced. High phosphorus levels hasten maturity; low levels delay maturity. Phosphorus is insoluble and is often found in the upper layers of the soil, where it can be absorbed by the roots. Phosphorus absorption is greatest at a soil pH of 6-7 and during periods of active growth.

Potassium expressed as a K on the label analysis. It is not a fixed constituent of living cells, but is essential in growth and development processes. Potassium functions in: Carbohydrate synthesis and translocation, supporting the chlorophyll tissue – aids photosynthesis in low light intensities. It is responsible for catalyzing numerous enzymatic reactions, including nitrogen reduction, regulating transpiration, controlling the up-take rate of certain nutrients and regulation of the respiration rate. Potassium favours the development (thickness) of cell walls, thus making the plant more resistant to heat, cold and frost conditions. It increases the plants ‘wear tolerance’, speeding up the recovery period by speeding up the translocation of necessary materials to meristematic tissues and encourages rooting. High levels of potassium tend to reduce the incidence of the fungal diseases, like Dollar Spot, Fusarium Patch, Dry Patch and Red Thread. Potassium’s role in the plant is that of regulating the plant’s processes. Potassium is known to influence at least 46 different enzymes within the plant. Turf grasses require Potassium in relatively high amounts – second only to Nitrogen. The Potassium content is quite high in young, actively growing turf grass plants, but content decreases rapidly as they reach maturity. It is absorbed and stored in plant tissues in much larger quantities than is required for normal growth and development, when larger amounts are available in the soil. This excessive consumption is called ‘luxury consumption’. Potassium is prone to leaching from the leaf tissues and the Potassium content of soils varies greatly, but is usually greater than Phosphorus or Nitrogen. Although the total content may be high, only a small amount is available for uptake by turf grasses. The use of nitrogen fertilizers containing Sulphate of Ammonia, also increase Potassium loss by leaching.

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