Nutrients, What about them?
Fertiliser Nutrients and their role.
For normal growth your lawn needs 16 essential nutrients for healthy development.
Some of these nutrients are needed in much larger quantities than others, but regardless of the quantities, they are all crucial to the growth. These nutrients are essentially categorised into two groups. Macronutrients are 9 of these nutrients that require larger quantities and Micronutrients are the remainder of the nutrients essential to healthy growth required in much less quantities.
Macronutrients are comprised of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sulphur, Calcium, Magnesium, plus Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen which make up 90-95% of the plants dry weight. The last three are never “deficient” in lawns as they are produced through Carbon Dioxide from the air and the Water they receive. Of these 9 Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are considered primary nutrients and must be applied periodically through fertiliser applications. The remainder of the nutrients are secondary and only needs occasional applications.
Micronutrients like Iron, Manganese, Zinc, Boron, Copper, Molybdenum and Chlorine, rarely or don’t require application in good organic soil. However, in a relentless pursuit of the perfect lawn, as we are adding more and more sand into our soil profile, improving our drainage and water penetration these nutrients do require consideration due to leaching from sandy soils
Lawn Addicts range of 2Spec and premium fertilisers like The Andersons (considered amongst the best in the world) are amongst the most balanced on the market and you have access to them. From of the different of controlled release forms of Nitrogen for even sustained growth to the technology in molecular structure of various micronutrients to maximise efficiency in nutrient uptake and results, we only support premium balanced products. We also carry a range of products specifically aimed at targeting a nutrient deficiency, they may not be on the site so please contact us for assistance.
Each of these essential nutrients have a specific function within your lawn. By now you’re aware Nitrogen has an obvious function that you have seen or heard as growth, which is to a degree correct, but the growth is a result of many functions at a cellular level. Phosphorous is similar with having many functions. All fertilisers purchased, should have an analysis so you know what you are applying at a recommended rate, if you don’t know the analysis or aren’t sure of the application rate, we strongly suggest you don’t use it. Do not apply anything without the manufactures assurance that your lawn will be ok or deemed suitable for use, even if it was a suggestion, without knowledge of the product, don’t risk it. Product analysis is traditionally given to us in a simple ratio form for ease of interpreting, it is most commonly displayed as 3 figures, which is N-P-K (Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium).
In some situations, it is displayed in 4 bold figures in which the fourth component is Sulphur, so it’s represented as N-P-K-S. Following this there is often the addition of another nutrient or nutrients given as a percentage also. For example, a common fertiliser analysis ratio might be 10-10-10, a bag of fertiliser represents 100% of its weight, we can confidently assume of this bags’ weight there is 10% of available nitrogen, 10% Phosphorous and 10% Potassium, and the same for sulphur if it applies. Some ratios may include for example
+2% Fe or +0.5% Mg (Iron and Magnesium). This often is an additional predominant nutrient to either enhance a feature of your lawn or assist with a deficiency, in this case these two contribute to chlorophyll production and it’s fair to expect improved colour. Another example could be +4.5% Ca (Calcium) to improve a deficiency, improve development and strength
Carbon, Oxygen and Hydrogen they are the building blocks of your lawn, I touched on this earlier and almost all your dried weight. They are readily available via the atmosphere, our lawns can still benefit from additional application of them, we can improve the availability carbon through organic material and higher carbon concentrated products plus aeration of our rootzones, these three are the cornerstone of any healthy lawn.
Deficiencies of nutrients in lawn often can be expressed with many signs, fertiliser needs to be applied before these signs develop. Such signs like, but not limited to leaf tissue turning a yellow or red colour, a thinning of the density making it weak and stunted plus unhealthy growth. These all contribute to a much higher risk of disease and pest damage. Below are 13 nutrients and their function to a good healthy lawn, and help you understand the roles and where they all fit in. You may even be able to recognise deficiency’s yourself and start deciding on a fertiliser that suites your own needs.
There are even services available and its often recommended to have your soil tested, and even your leaf tissue tested for an accurate analysis of your lawns nutrition if you wanted to go down that track of lawn supremacy or if you have on going issues. Simple soil test kits are available from hardware stores and its quite a good starting point before you start taking this too seriously.
NITROGEN – N
Is a component that makes up nucleic, amino acids, proteins, chlorophyll and co-enzymes. It is responsible for cell division, shoot and root growth, density, leaf colour, disease resistance, tolerance to stresses and recovery.
PHOSPHOROUS – P
Also, a component of nucleic acids, cellular membranes, adenosine triphosphate, and several coenzymes, which are responsible for seedling development, plant maturation and root growth.
POTASSIUM – K
Activates enzymes used in protein, sugars and starch synthesis. Its crucial in maintaining and producing distention or rigidity of plant cells by increasing the pressure of the cells contents against the cell walls. This improves the drought tolerance, extreme temperature hardiness and disease resistance.
CALCIUM – Ca
Calcium is needed in the outer layer of the plant cell wall, it needs to be thought of as the “cement” that holds the cells together. It is extremely important in membrane function and cell division. Signs deficiencies include poor root and shoot development.
MAGNESIUM – Mg
Activates many enzymes, very important components of chlorophyll, common Magnesium deficiency symptoms include foliar chlorosis or yellowing.
SULPHUR – S
Deficiencies also include chlorosis or yellowing, Sulphur is required in certain amino acids, proteins, membranes and coenzymes.
IRON – Fe
Important in the formation of chlorophyll. It’s also important in photosynthesis and nitrogen metabolism. Symptoms of Iron deficiencies exist with chlorosis or yellowing of young or developing leaves
MANGANESE – Mn
Its required in the chloroplast membranes for the chlorophyll, it functions as an enzyme activator. Plus, it can assist in the resistance of some diseases.
ZINC – Zn
Involved in chlorophyll and amino acid synthesis, plus its important in the synthesis of the growth hormone indoleacetic acid influencing internode elongation
BORON – B
Boron is important with the synthesis of DNA and cell expansion and the translocation of sugars.
COPPER – Cu
Essential for photosynthesis, plant respiration, metabolism of carbohydrates and a component of certain enzymes for synthesis
MOLYBDENUM – Mo
It’s part of two enzymes that produce nitrite from nitrate in plants before becoming ammonia, so it can be synthesised
CHLORINE – Cl
In very minute levels plays a part in photosynthesis
While these are essential nutrients are critical to healthy growth, there are also some nutrients that offer more physiological benefits and advantages. A good example of this is Silica, we will save this for another day.