A regular fertility schedule is an important
part of maintaining a healthy green space, as long as it’s done properly. Not just the
type of fertilizer you choose, but the application rate and seasonal aspect are all important
considerations when it comes to caring for your turf grass. Once you’ve determined the
nutrients the turf needs through a proper soil test, you’ll need to choose a fertilizer
that will bring your soil to the right balance for the plant material that you selected.
Knowing how to read that fertilizer label will help you choose the right product, so
let’s go over the basics. In this example, here at the top we have the manufacturer name,
which is Nutrients Plus. Right below that we have the brand name of the fertilizer,
which is Screamin’ Green. Below those we have three numbers which may be something you are
familiar with but you don’t know the meaning of. These numbers identify the fertilizer
ratio contained within the bag: nitrogen, or n; phosphorus, or p; and potassium, identified
as K on the periodic table. A general rule of thumb that will help you
remember the effect each nutrient has on your plant is to think up, down, and all around.
Up for nitrogen, which helps above plant growth and will help to green things up. Down for
phosphorous, which helps root growth as well as promotes flower and fruit production. All
around for potassium, which is important for all around plant health. More specifically,
potassium helps to regulate water and build strong cells, which will help make your plant
more hardy and less prone to disease. Also included on the label is the guaranteed
analysis. The manufacturer guarantees that the stated percentages of NPK will be in the
bag as well as the source each nutrient is derived from. Any other plant food elements
and their source, like iron or micronutrients, will also be included in the analysis.
You may have noticed that the ratio percentages don’t add up to 100%. The remaining material
in the bag is made up of filler or inert ingredients that help disperse the active ingredients.
Finally, we have the net weight of the bag. This information will be important later when
we’re calculating the application rate. This should be a good starting point for understanding
the information contained in a fertilizer label. If you have any more questions, feel
free to drop into your local Ewing branch for more answers.