I'm going organic with the lawn fertilization this year and wondering if either alfalfa meal or soybean meal is a better choice, or are they pretty much equal in their lawn fertilization abilities?
They are all good organic fertilizers. They each add different micro nutrients to the soil. I alternate between corn, alfalfa and soy to get diversity. Soy has the highest nitrogen count. Many transition into organic lawn maintenance over the course of a year or two. Throw out your pesticides and fungicides. Spot treat with weed killer the first year. Your lawn will be much improved with organic fertilizers. Checkout the organic lawn FAQ in the link below. Bill Hill
Here is a link that might be useful: Organic Lawn Care FAQ
Consider an application of some type of "poop." Several of my neighbors, as well as my uncle, only fertilize with chicken poop. I don't know which brand the neighbors use because their landscaper buys it, but my uncle uses Cockadoodledoo. My uncle is the first to green up and the last to go dormant. The neighbors do relatively well, but not as good - but then again, they are not as caring with their lawn as he is.
I am probably going to do something like BillHill. I will definitely add some poop in there.....By the way, my "winterizer" this year was the Scotts Organic Lawn Food, and my lawn is still greener than the people around here who went with a synthetic winterizer. Much greener. The results have tempted me to just use that next year, but that wouldn't be as much fun :-)
Alfalfa is good for seed germination because it has growth hormones.
Soy Bean Meal is higher in protien and much more economical choice for all purpose fertilizer because it takes half as much
Alfalfa = 3-1-2
SBM = 7-2-2
What type of store would I buy Alfalfa or Soy Bean Meal? I too am considering a hybrid approach this year but have no clue where to shop.
What type of store would I buy Alfalfa or Soy Bean Meal?
Livestock feed store
Cockadoodledoo. That's funny.
Thanks for the input, folks.
Don't read into the numbers too much. Doesn't really matter...
So money doesn't matter ehh?
Agreed, they are all good.
Im with billhill, I also alternate between corn, alfalfa and soy to get diversity.
Alfalfa offers nutrients and a high availability of trace minerals. They contain trianconatol, a natural fatty-acid
Soybean meal is mainly used as a nitrogen source.
As TW stated, you will have to apply twice as much Alfalfa to achieve the same results as SBM. I apply alfalfa @ 20lbs per 1000sqft and SBM @ 12lbs per 1000.
Technically you would have to apply 33-pounds 1000/ft2 for Alfalfa, and 14-pounds 1000/ft2 of SBM to be equal in nitrogen of 1-pound 1000/ft2.
I agree with Texas Weed And Skoot Cat. SBM is a great source of Nitrogen. Alfalfa contains plant growth hormone and other important micronutrients. IMO, it's best to use a mixture of organic fertilizers. This helps to ensure a balanced diet for your soil. However, your key focus should be on N. Most lawn grasses require between 3 and 5 lbs of N per 1000ft2 annually for vigorous growth.
Some people say that a soil test isn't needed if you are on an organic program. I disagree. I think that a soil test every few years can provide some worthwhile information. For example, most people can simply focus on N with an organic program because P & K persist in the soil much longer than N. If you have a number of trees and mulch your leaves, you probably don't need to monitor P & K. On the other hand, you may have one of those lawns that needs more P & K than your fertilizer mix provides. Also, you may be low in one of the micronutrients that affect the uptake of N-P-K. You won't know for sure unless you perform a soil test periodically.
I also believe that the numbers are important. If you apply too much N, you waste money. If you apply too little N, your lawn will not reach its full potential.
I don't have any objection with alternating between alfalfa and SBM, but cornmeal isn't much of a ferilizer, its used more as a mild fungicide in an organic program.
Of coure this does not include corn glutten meal as it is the highest protien content of all, no fungicede properties, some pre-emrgence properties, but very expensive in most areas of the country.
Agree that diversity is the spice of life. I'm fortunate enough to live in horse country with a couple of blue seal suppliers and use multiple feeds throughout the year.
I would not overlook cornmeal due to it's low protein content. Cornmeal (and soybean meal) are good fungal foods and will green up the lawn in spring without topgrowth. Alfalfa meal is a good bacterial food and does have growth hormones.
If you mulch mow your bacteria popultation is probably OK. Building a fungal population is important, and that is why feeds like cornmeal and soybean meal should be used regardless of nitrogen content.
I apply cornmeal in the spring, alfalfa in the summer and soybean in the fall at 10-20 lbs/1000 ft^2. I typically use 20 lbs for the corn, 15 lbs for the alfalfa and 10 lbs for the soybean. Whatever the application, results are observed in 3 weeks.
OPL, mulch mowing, compost, coffee grinds, etc. get added as available.
Lawn improvements occur over time. 3 weeks to see results, years to achieve optimal conditions.
A varied program, I'm sure, would be the best approach. However, I'm having a hard time finding anything besides the alfalfa meal at my local feed stores. :(
>If you mulch mow your bacteria popultation is probably OK.This is one point that makes me wonder whether my lawn problem is truly a nutrient deficiency. I do mulch mow. In fact, I try to do everything "correctly" -- mulch mow, water deeply and infrequently, and mow high. Yet my lawn is one of the worst looking lawns on the block right now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the situation is much improved in three weeks.
you expect too much out of organic program too soon. Give it time... like 2-3 years to see full effect of it.
texas weed-- it's called nutrient cycling. That's why I said don't read too much into nitrogen amount. it's not same as synthetic...
The Nitrogen Cycle and the Soil Food Web
Here is a link that might be useful: The Nitrogen Cycle and the Soil Food Web
Have you put down compost at all? It is pretty much a must for anyone starting organic lawn program to re-introduce microbes into the soil to get the ball rolling. It's like trying to start a car without engine. You're putting in gasoline but there's no engine to take advantage of it... It should be one time application.
I would also strongly suggest that you spray blackstrap unsulfured molasses with ortho dial sprayer every few months to speed things along. After a couple years or so, you won't need to do it anymore with much improved soil. As far as I can tell, grocery stores are the best place to get them. Most garden centers sell sulfured type so avoid it. What molasses do is to help bacteria and fungi grow more. THEY ARE YOUR SOURCE OF NITROGEN but they must be eaten by nematodes and protozoa to release nitrogen to the plant roots.... Nothing like synthetic fertilizer.... Without nematodes and protozoa, nutrient cycle is interrupted... it takes a while to build up protozoa and nematodes and a lot of things need to be improved. That's why I said you're expecting too much to early...
Actually sugar and molases are a carbon source and contain no nitrogen. Bacteria need ~30 carbons to every nitrogen molecule to cycle. I believe that lawns not mulch mowed and fertilized chemically become carbon deficient which is another reason why I use cornmeal in the spring.
Why does organic cotton farm in west texas uses molasses at the rate of 2 oz per 1000 sqft few times a year with no nitrogen input? Rainfall is all they get... Do a bit more digging.... Google Malcomb Beck and molasses....
Molasses - Sweet & Super
Molasses was one sweet treat we were never without when I was growing up. We put it on bread with butter for a snack. It was great on hot cornbread and really flavored up beans if stirred in the pot when they were very hot. My grandpa would eat molasses over cottage cheese every morning for breakfast, and he stayed healthy to his death at a very old age.
Back then I would never have guessed that molasses would have any value in growing plants or use in insect control. My friend who grows organic cotton up in the high plains uses molasses and a nitrogen-fixing microbe as his only fertilizer. (Nitrogen fixing means the nitrogen is made available to plants as nutrients.) I asked him what the molasses did, and he said it made the microbes work better.
I had to find out for myself, so I did a test. I used two containers of equal size with equal amounts of potting soil and the same number of rye grass seeds. One container was given only tap water; the other was given equal water with two tablespoons of molasses per gallon stirred in. After 8 weeks, the molasses watered plants were almost twice the size of the plants in the other container.
I was amazed, but I didn't understand how molasses could make that much difference. We had the compost in the potting soil tested and found that it contained some of the same free-nitrogen-fixing microbes that the cotton grower used. (He used an Agri-Gro product containing the microbes.) One of these nitrogen-fixing microbes is Azotobacter, a microbe that can fix nitrogen straight from the air without living on the root of a legume as long as it has a source of energy such as sugar or molasses. Both are rich in carbohydrates, a good source of energy. In lab tests, Dr. Louis M. Thompson discovered that if given sugar weekly, the Azotobacter could fix from the air the equivalent of a thousand pounds of nitrogen per acre in ten weeks.
We recommend that molasses, 1 to 3 tablespoons, be added to each gallon of liquid fertilizer mix. It definitely makes a difference. It is also used as a binder in all of our dry fertilizer formulas.
Every gardener has his or her own favorite fertilizer recipe. Both Howard Garrett and John Dromgoole have popular recipes that contain molasses and other organic materials. You can experiment with your favorites and come up with your own best recipe.
I always foliar feed my fruit trees early each spring with fish emulsion and seaweed. Now I add molasses to the mix. The strangest thing I noticed when using molasses with the mix was that the fire ants would move out from under the trees. I also got reports from Houston that fire ants would move away from the lawns after an application of dry fertilizer that contained molasses.
I got an opportunity to see if molasses really moved fire ants. In my vineyard, I had a 500 foot row of root stock vines cut back to a stump that needed grafting. The fire ants had made themselves at home along that row because of the drip pipe that kept the soil soft and gave them a good supply of water. The mounds averaged three feet apart. There was no way a person could work there without being eaten alive!
I dissolved 4 tablespoons of molasses in each gallon of water and sprayed along the drip pipe. By the next day, the fire ants had moved out four feet in each direction. We were able to graft the vines without a single ant bothering us. With this success at moving the ants, I decided to spray the whole orchard and get rid of those pests. I learned, however, if the ants have no convenient place to move, they just stay where they are. I began wondering if the energy-rich molasses stimulate a soil microbe that the ants don't like. This was the beginning of development of Garden-Ville Fire Ant Control.
A friend of mine up in dairy country uses a hydro cyclone to separate the liquids from the solids in cow manure. He noticed when spraying the liquids on hay fields that the fire ants tended to disappear. Tests of our compost have shown it to contain insect pathogens. The manure liquids and the compost tea both had some results as ant killers. The two together worked a little better. We knew that dormant oil sprays killed some insects, and that citrus peel extracts were used to kill insects, so we decided to mix orange oil with molasses and liquid cow manure. After months of research, we finally found the correct blend that not only killed ants, but any insects. It even smelled okay and would not burn the leaves of plants. It quickly degraded into a good energy-rich soil conditioner.
Needless to say, we offered our product to the market as Garden-Ville Fire Ant Control. We have many happy customers. You can even make your own if you don't want to buy ours. More information is included in the article on fire ant control.
The Garden-Ville Method - Lessons in Nature
Molasses is a carbohydrate (i.e no Nitrogen). I don't contend that some bacteria and fungi can sequester atmospheric nitrogen, and that molasses is a good bacterial carbon based food. I was just clarifying that molasses does not have protein or nitrogen, it is only sodium and carbohydrates.
I also found this link that experiments with urea/molases and syobean meal/cornmeal suppliments on steer metabolism. In summary they found that both strategies equally improved digestibility.
Here is a scientific article with supporting evidence stating that azotobacter only fixates atmosperhic N2 in the extreme absence of ammonium and nitrate.
>Have you put down compost at all?As a matter of fact, I did. I had a 5-gallon bucket left from last season, so I applied it when I put down the alfalfa meal. 5 gallons of compost isn't a lot, but it's only a 500 sq. ft. lawn.
>That's why I said you're expecting too much to early...Lou, this discussion migrated from another thread (Yellowing Lawn), where I mentioned that the lawn in question is less than a year old. Before laying the sod, I had the work crew lay down a layer of compost and rototill it into the topsoil. I also applied corn gluten as a pre-emergent last fall, which some folks say makes a better fertilizer than a weed preventer. It's just very frustrating that after taking those steps and mulch mowing, my young fescue lawn is looking so yellow and dead. Perhaps I am expecting too much, but I'm a little desperate to try and turn this young (and expensive) lawn around.
Just my two-cents worth. Go get you some ureas slow release fertilizer and save what is left of your lawn.
Should have added get some slow release urea with iron, and get a soil test done. Pay attention to the PH, P, K and Fe results, ignore the nitrogen results.
get some urea - get a soil test - ignore the nitrogen results
This just doesn't make sense. (to me, at least)
And the study is written in 1986. Things have changed a lot since then. Nobody really knew how soil biology truly worked back then. We've come a long way since then...
Slow release urea might keep you from losing your insanity so go do it.
By the way, I never rototilled my lawn. I just kill bermuda, mow it down, threw st augustine over it and I'm done.
"get some urea - get a soil test - ignore the nitrogen results
This just doesn't make sense. (to me, at least)"
I think he's saying that the N results are not important because the OP will be applying N (urea).
It's a good idea to get a soil test when your lawn is responding abnormally. For example, a soil test will identify an iron, calcium, or magnesium deficiency that can affect the uptake of N-P-K.
get some urea - get a soil test - ignore the nitrogen results
This just doesn't make sense. (to me, at least)
Because nitrogen will always be low as it is the most water soluble, and most widely used by all plants. P, K and PH change slowly and used sparingly by plants. For any nitrogen application the rate is 1-pound 1000/ft2, and up to 7-pounds per year depending on grass type, location, and soil conditions.
General consensus among lawn professionals is having a soil test once a year or at least every two years. Add recommended P/K and PH correction either the first application in spring or last in the fall, makes no real difference. Then the remaining fertilizer applications is straight nitrogen applications at the rate of 1-pound 1000/ft2 say from 3 to 5 applications per year during the growing season depending on grass type.
From reading along so far, the problem is YELLOW grass which is more times than not from insufficient nitrogen, insufficient iron, or PH problems (related to iron problems). It will not hurt a darn thing to add urea with iron and likely do the trick. Soil test identifies any other underlying problems.
Since this is a Fescue lawn, I hope the OP knows he/she needs to overseed with like seed every year. Since Fescue does not regenerate itself, it will eventually thin itself out to bare dirt and/or weeds.
>It's a good idea to get a soil test when your lawn is responding abnormally.I always hear, "Send a soil sample to your local cooperative extension..." but around here, their response is always, "It's too expensive." Are those store-bought soil tests reliable enough?
>Since this is a Fescue lawn, I hope the OP knows he/she needs to overseed with like seed every year.No, I didn't know that. I have a fescue lawn in the back yard that's seven years old now, looks great and I've never reseeded. At what age does a lawn need to start being reseeded?
"I always hear, "Send a soil sample to your local cooperative extension..." but around here, their response is always, "It's too expensive." Are those store-bought soil tests reliable enough?
Most extensions will do soil analysis for between $10 and $50. The low end report contains basic information (N-P-K, pH, plus key elements). The high end report includes an analysis of organic material, trace elements, and detailed recommendations.
I'm not familiar with "store bought" soil tests.
>Most extensions will do soil analysis for between $10 and $50.Not mine, unfortunately. The Master Gardeners have repeatedly declined my requests for a soil test. The ironic thing is, my local cooperative extension is UC Davis, nationally renowned for its agriculture program.
>I'm not familiar with "store bought" soil tests.They're small plastic color-coded vials with a capsule of mystery powder for each test. Follow the link below to see an example.
Here is a link that might be useful: Store-bought soil test kit.
The Master Gardeners have repeatedly declined my requests for a soil test.
Then blaze your own trail!
See link below.
Here is a link that might be useful: SOIL TESTING LABS IN CALIFORNIA
Thanks for the link, Gary. I started down that road a while back, trying to find someone who would do a test for me. Some of the places I found online wouldn't do it because I was not in their zip code. I was like, "Huh???" It didn't make sense to me. I don't know if it was a regional funding thing or what, but geeze, no one would take my dirt. :(
I found one place on that list you sent that's at least in my area code, so that's the first place I'll call. Thanks.
Here's a lab near Sacramento:
Soil Testing Service
11353 Pyrites Way, Rancho Cordova, CA
>Here's a lab near Sacramento:Thanks so much, Deerslayer. That location is very convenient! :D
You can also look to see if there is a Lesco dealer in your area, they do soil test.
Hooo weee! Soybean meal was $14.40/50# today at Southern States co-op. I sure hope the grass appreciates the gourmet meal it is about to receive. I need to find something in the red beans & rice price category.
I'm a little suspicious that the SBM I've been using the last two years is a big factor in why I've had a huge amount of chickweed (I had virtually none until recently, now it's everywhere). Is it possible that chickweed seeds were in the SBM?
Just wanted to report back that my lawn is doing much, much better after applying the suggestions offered here. My lawn is once again approaching the status of best-looking lawn on the block. :D
Thanks Raymondo for reporting your success. I am curious as to what you applied to your lawn. Bill Hill
>Thanks Raymondo for reporting your success. I am curious as to what you applied to your lawn.Bill, I applied two applications of Alfalfa meal one month apart. Worked wonders. I sincerely appreciate the wonderful advice! Check out the before and after photos at the URL below.
Here is a link that might be useful: Before & After Photos