Organic Nitrogen in Soil

While all nutrients are essential for plant life, Nitrogen(N) is the element that is required in the greatest amounts to maintain healthy and vigorous plant growth. It is also not very understood. As you will see, using organic sources for your plant nutrients is a lot different than just buying a bag of fertilizer. Let’s dive in to better understand how it works and the effects of organic nitrogen in the soil.

The interesting thing about nitrogen (in its natural form) is that it’s not derived from the soil like other nutrients, but comes from organic matter. Nitrogen released by soil microbes enters the soil as ammonia. Nitrifying bacteria convert ammonia to different forms, including nitrates, the form of nitrogen plants most readily use. If your soil is low in microbes, you will lose much of this ammonia to the air, lowering soil nitrogen levels. Therefore, it is essential to maintain your soil correctly. To help in this, Turf Formula is time tested and increases microbial levels and activity tremendously, which is vital to plant and microbial health. It helps deliver nitrogen and other nutrients faster and more efficiently for plants to use.

Consider how meadows, forests, and rangelands thrive yet do not receive supplemental nitrogen. They are dependent on a constant supply of organic matter to meet their nitrogen needs. In order for lawns and fields to maintain organic nitrogen in soils, organic matter comes from biodegradable materials such as grass clippings, shed roots, fallen leaves, decomposing twigs and branches, dead insect bodies, earthworm, insect, rodent and animal feces, and the like. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn can return 1 – 2 lbs of nitrogen per 1000 sqft each year back to the soil. 

Fertilizer bags always include three large numbers on the bag that represent Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, in that order. It may have 0 for any of those nutrients if the bag contains none, but companies list them. Most of the fertilization programs professionally developed for turf are based on the amount of N needed on the grass for that time of year. It is equally important for organic lawn care. In turf science, it is said that a person skilled in Nitrogen management separates the true professionals from the average fertilizer user. Professionals are required to know this. 

Another interesting fact that runs contrary to popular belief is plants do not know or care where the nitrogen comes from. Whether through the breakdown of organic matter or by synthetic fertilizers, grass only knows it is nitrogen and will use it just the same.

 The Important Role of Soil Microorganisms to Grass Plant Health

While the grass doesn’t care about the nitrogen source, what about the soil? While it is true that some forms of nitrogen, such as ammonium, can harm some soil bacteria, it is only for a short time. As explained by the Texas A&M Agricultural Science Dept., soil bacteria immune to ammonium break it down into a plant-available nutrient. Then the harmed bacteria begin to recover rapidly. If the bacteria didn’t recover, the world would be in severe danger since 80% of the world’s ammonium is used as fertilizer.

To give you an example of how nature works, consider oil spills. Millions of spilled oil gallons can cause severe damage to birds, fish, microbes, and plant life. It upsets the whole balance of nature. Man tries his best to clean it up, but much of it is impossible to reach. 

This is where microbes come in. What is harmful to one microbe is like Swiss Chocolate to another. Oil digesting microbes can quickly breakdown the oil, and as that happens, the original microbes that were damaged by the oil soon return. This is what happened in the Gulf of Mexico during the BP spill. Within a relatively short time, the oil that pushed deep into the marsh was gone, and life sprang back. Life at the beach – crabbing, shrimping, and fishing – are now back to normal. 

If you have an organic lawn care service or strive to use organics as much as possible, maintaining your soil microbes is of supreme importance. There is nothing quite like Turf Formula® for home and sports turf, or FoliarBlend® for fields related to the most active and numerous microbial activity. University studies have shown Turf Formula® increases your natural microbial activity by up to 5000% in as little 72 hours. Soil microbes break down soil elements into nutrients plants can actually use, and it does it much faster. These microbes provide enzymes, amino acids, and other essential elements plants need for root development and overall plant health (read more on Sports Field Maintenance).

 Role of Nitrogen Inside the Plant

Magnesium is found inside the grass plant at the Chlorophyll molecule center, but three Nitrogen ions surround magnesium. Chlorophyll gives plants their green color and uses large amounts of nitrogen. Nitrogen is also found in amino acids, proteins, enzymes, nucleic acids, and more. It is an essential element for grass blade development, root and runner growth, photosynthesis, and other plant functions. Therefore, healthy grass is dependent on the correct amount of nitrogen availability. 

As already stated, soil microorganisms break down the organic matter and release back into the soil many different nutrients. The microorganism’s activity is related to temperature, with the greatest activity in the high heat of summer and winter being the slowest. As long as soil moisture is adequate, summer marks the fastest organic matter conversion back into nutrients.

To further challenge things, nitrogen is unstable in soil.  This is the primary reason soil tests often do not record Nitrogen levels, because it is so unstable, and levels quickly change. Suppose you are using organic forms of nitrogen. In that case, you need to keep a supply of organic material available to plants, especially from the start of the growing season, through the summer months and fall when microbes are at their highest activity levels. Organic matter can take many forms. Organic fertilizers, such as Milorganite, composted poultry litter, have all been used successfully. The latter generally have higher nitrogen levels than other manures at about 4% N. There are also “bridge products” that combine urea and other forms of N with the organic matter for increased nitrogen levels. 

Some companies make well-composted granulated manure fertilizers that are very safe. However, organic fertilizers cost more than non-organic. You can also use high-quality loamy topsoil or composts. 

Driving these points home, if you are doing organics, especially if you have an organic business, do not rely on nature alone. Your business depends on it. Keep track of organic matter levels via a soil test and the application rate of organic material afterward. If your soil is low in organic material, you will have low organic nitrogen levels in soil, and your grass will not be as green. As a result, your grass will show signs of chlorosis. You may not have enough nutrients to maintain the dark green color needed for healthy plants, and you will need to make organic additions or add fertilizers. 

Remember that chlorotic grass has lower disease resistance, lowered photosynthetic activity, and root development. It may go into dormancy to protect itself earlier when healthier grass would be green and thriving. You need to add Turf Formula to keep the microbial numbers high to convert soil elements and organic matter into nutrients.

If your soil is high in organic matter (6% organic matter is sufficient), then low maintenance turf can easily survive through the year. Places where clippings are left on the grass, such as home lawns, low traffic parks, cemeteries, amenity grasslands, etc., can often survive without nitrogen applications. Suppose your soil is lacking in organic matter. In that case, there may not be enough nitrogen to sustain healthy and vigorous plant life. You will need to add nitrogen in the form of fertilizers or add organic matter through top dressing with loamy topsoils or composts. Sports turf has higher standards, and nutrient levels will need to be closely monitored (check out the article on why Organic Matter Matters).

 How Much Topsoil Should I Get

Another question to consider is, “how much topsoil will it take to cover my front yard with 1/2″ deep of good loamy soil?” 

If purchased in large volumes, it often will come in cubic yards. To get an idea of how much that is, first imagine a child’s toy blocks. They often have letters on them, and you can stack them. Place nine blocks on the floor in a solid square three blocks wide and three blocks long. Then stack two more sets of blocks exactly like it one top of each other. Now you have 27 blocks in three rows of three on every side. If those blocks were one ft square (each block is 12″ on each side), you would have 27 of them, which would equal a cubic yard. That is a lot of dirt.

 Where to begin:

To answer how many cubic yards of topsoil you need, you will first need to know how many square feet is in your yard. So if your lawn is 50 ft X 25 ft, you have 1250 ft².

Since we are talking in fractions of 1/2″, we first need to convert the fraction into feet to calculate the volume of material. Here’s how we do that:

1/2 in depth = 1 ÷ 2 = .5 inches or half an inch **(if you needed 3/4″ deep of topsoil the math would be 3 ÷ 4 = .75 inches**)

Now divide: .5 in ÷ 12 in/ft² = .041 ft²

 Then to get the volume of material needed for 1/2″ deep:

Front Yard Sqft = 1250 ft² X .041 ft² = 51.25³ (The 3 reprepresents “cubic feet”)

You will need 51.25 cubic feet to topsoil to cover it 1/2″ in-depth.

 Now, if you will need to order it in cubic yards:

If one cubic yard = 27³ cubic feet, then how many cubic yards are 51.25³ cubic feet?

Divide: 51.25³ ÷ 27³ = 1.89 Cubic Yards. You will need just under two cubic yards. You can round it up to two if you like to make it easier for the guy loading it.


You can apply Turf Formula®, or Turf Formula® mixed with SuperCal® Liquid Calcium, right over the top of the soil.  In a test conducted by the University of Missouri where Turf Formula® and SuperCal® were applied, Brown Patch disease pathogens were reduced by 35% within 72 hours over the control. Many beneficial microbes feed on pathogenic microbes, and this action may be enough to keep most diseases from becoming problems (check out the study here and AgriGro’s prebiotic impact on soil diversity and richness).

The use of Turf Formula® has helped control Take-All Root Rot, Cedar Apple Rust, Pythium Blight, as well as other diseases.  Cedar Apple Rust on apple trees was controlled entirely the year it was tested. The following year the Turf Formula® application was withheld to see what would happen, and the cedar-apple rust came back. Turf Formula® is not a fungicide, but by increasing beneficial microbes, many bacteria and protozoa have one primary function: to find and kill pathogenic microbes. Turf Formula® significantly increases fluid uptake, promotes significant root growth, and aids in more efficient photosynthesis. 

AgriGro products have become a valuable, time-tested resource for organic and non-organic lawn care professionals, used on golf courses and lawns around the country and around the world. If you haven’t tried it, now’s the time.

Russ James
AgriGro Turf Specialist
Call Russ / Email Russ

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Lawn Care Academy Turf Specialist, Russ James
Fundamentals of TurfGrass Management – Dr. Nick Christians
The Mathematics of Turfgrass Maintenance – Dr. Nick Christians
Texas A & M Turfgrass Resources

Determining Forage Supplementation

How do you know which hay to feed to different groups of cattle? The nutritional content of forages will vary due to numerous factors. These factors include season, forage growth rates, animal stage of production, producer ability to supplement, and the list goes on from there.


In the United States, hay season usually spans from early summer to early fall, and farmers work tirelessly to get as many cuttings in as possible. Timing is key. Cut too early and overall yield for the year will be low. Cut too late and grass will have matured too much. As the plant matures, more structure is required to keep it standing tall, and the quicker it grows, the quicker fiber develops. As fiber content increases, protein decreases, and digestion becomes much more difficult. This knowledge often times brings producers to question, “How do I know which hay to feed to which groups of animals?” (learn more about the importance of fiber in Ruminant Nutrition here)

Animal Stage of Production and Requirements

First, it is important to determine animal stage of production and nutritional requirements. Nutritional requirements will vary throughout a lifetime, requiring more or less depending on the demands of the body. For a cow-calf operation, the title for the highest nutritional requirements belongs to the lactating cow, specifically during the early stages of lactation. On a stocker operation, lighter weight calves have greater requirements for structural growth in comparison to their heavier counterparts laying down fat.

Supplementation Rates

Once you have determined the nutritional requirements of each group, you can now look at how much hay they will need vs. how much they can physically consume. Those requiring the greatest amount of nutrients should be fed more nutrient-dense feed sources. This approach will allow lower feeding rates in order to reach nutritional needs.

In years when hay quality suffers, physical fill, or gut fill, becomes even more important to pay attention to. The rumen wall contains receptors called “Stretch Receptors”. When the rumen gets full, the walls will stretch and trigger stretch receptors to signal to the brain that it is full, and the cow will stop eating. If receptors are triggered prior to meeting nutritional requirements, loss of body condition can occur. In these cases, additional supplementation is required to enhance feed efficiency and utilization.

Ability To Supplement

The ability of supplementation can vary drastically depending on your location. For instance, a producer in Arkansas may have their herd within a few mile radius but a rancher in Montana may have their herd spread across hundreds of miles. Supplementation types and concentrations will vary drastically depending on how often you are able to provide it.

Supplementation will look different for every rancher and farmer, but whatever the program is, the development of a proper nutritional program is necessary for long term profitability.

How can AgriGro add to your long term profitability?

Nutri-Zyme® is an all-natural supplement designed for all farmers and ranchers. This prebiotic can be added directly to the feed daily or added to water sources for those who may not be able to feed every day. Nutri-Zyme® enhances gut health and digestive efficiency, allowing you to get the most out of your forages. Nutri-Zyme® contains additional magnesium, which is especially important to combat grass tetany during lush forage growth. Additionally, the supplemental zinc found in Nutri-Zyme® improves hoof integrity, which is especially important when cattle are required to walk long distances for food, water, or fresh forages.

*Don’t forget to use FoliarBlend® and AgriCal® on your forage crops to improve hay quality and nutritional levels.* Watch video.

Contact a rep or click here to learn more about incorporating Nutri-Zyme® into your production.

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Extend your Homegrown Harvesting into Fall

Fall days are perfect for gardening—it’s cooler, the sun is still shining, you have the occasional rain shower, and the soil is warm. The soil is warmer than in spring, so your plants grow more quickly during this time of year. 

To extend your homegrown harvest through Thanksgiving, you must plant your fall garden before the first frost. Meaning now is the time!

If you live in a part of the country where the first frosts come in November, start planting in September. If you live where frosts start earlier, we suggest going with transplants that are a few weeks old so they will be able to handle the cold weather.

10-12 Weeks Before First Frost

Broccoli and Cabbage: Plant directly in garden beds. If you’re looking for cold-tolerant varieties, consider ‘Blue Wind’ broccoli and savoy-type cabbage.

Brussel sprouts: It is best to grow Brussel sprouts in raised beds since seasons and temperatures are often changing. For best results, plant ½ inch deep and 2 to 3 inches apart.

Carrots: Plant your carrots in late summer. Don’t be afraid to leave them in the ground well into the fall season. Often, they will taste sweeter after a light frost. 

Note: Create a light blanket of mulch over your carrots—this will serve as an insulator during cold nights.

Celery: Celery tends to grow out, space each seed ½ inch deep and at least 24 inches apart in rows. Remember to spend time watering the celery. It needs a fair amount of water to thrive!

Onions: Start onions from seed in midsummer. Plant hardy types like ‘Lisbon White Bunching.’

8-10 Weeks Before First Frost

Arugula: From seedling to harvest, arugula needs only four to six weeks.

Collards and Kale: Plant directly in garden beds. Collards and kale tend to taste best after the first frost.

Lettuce and Greens: It is best to start your lettuce and your greens from indoors. These seeds need a little extra care!

6-8 Weeks Before First Frost

Beets: Before you plant, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. Then, keep planted seeds well watered.

Parsnips: Plant fresh seeds for the best parsnips. Feel free to leave them in the ground for a few frosts before harvesting.

Turnips: Plant turnips directly into the garden; they do not transplant well. Don’t forget, turnips are cool-weather vegetables and can be grown in both fall and spring.

Radishes: As radishes are left in the ground, they sweeten. They can be harvested within three weeks of planting.

Need more great reasons to plant a fall garden? Check out this blog on How to Have Your Best Fall Garden and the benefits you gain for your garden in the coming year. 

It’s time to start planting your fall garden, and we want to help! Our all-natural products are made with you, your family, and even your pets in mind. Bountiful Harvest, SuperCal, and Ultra work in harmony with nature—helping you improve your veggies and soil health. If you’ve been looking to take your harvest to the next level—this is your solution! Happy GROing!

For 20% off your first order of a Home & Garden Combo Pack
use the code welcometoagrigro at checkout !

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Meyer, S. (2016, Sep). Fall veg planting. Vegetarian Times, , 30
Christopher, T. (2002). Second harvest. Country Living Gardener, 10(5), 97

The Science of Shade Grass Management

In efforts to find the perfect turf grass, there has been a lot written about the nutrient and light requirements of full sun grass, but there isn’t  much scientific data written about shade turf and its growth and light requirements.  

Although there are exceptions, it is a general rule that most warm season grass requires full sun. On the other hand, most cool season grass can handle shade better than warm season grasses, but there are also exceptions.  

Landscape designers or turf specialists really don’t have the luxury of trial by error or to use a “one size fits all” solution. It takes more than guesswork because wrong guesses can cost you or your customer money. 

Understanding the conditions that exist will help in choosing the correct grass. It’s a give and take process as some varieties of turf grass can handle shade, but can become disease prone in prolonged wet or dry environments or if all factors are not considered. Understanding the conditions that exist will help in choosing the correct grass. 

Let’s take a look at the overall scientific factors that will help take the guesswork out of determining the best shade grass  and turf quality for your conditions.

The Top 5 Considerations

 1. Amount and Quality of Sunlight

All grasses require light, which is a key driver of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is necessary because this is how plants produce their own energy for growth. While some grasses can grow in heavy shade with little light penetration, they will not thrive long. Whether it is shade grass or grass in full sun, all produce energy through the electromagnetic radiation it provides. Where light is insufficient, the grass will thin and begin to die. This amazing process of converting light energy to chemical energy is called “Photosynthesis and Respiration”. 

Determining the amount and quality of sunlight needed for each individual set of circumstances can be overwhelming. Too much or too little can each present their own set of problems. 

Although shade is generally considered the enemy of turf, many turf grass varieties are better able to handle shade conditions if other conditions are monitored and maintained. 

In many areas around the country that have frequent heavy cloud cover, the need to add sunlight hours is increased for maintaining healthy grass. Kentucky Bluegrass, Merion Variety, for instance is one variety (as well as others) that can handle shade well. However Merion when exposed to too much moisture tends to develop powdery mildew, turning the blades white or grey. The mildew can easily become too thick and can thin the grass as it blocks the light preventing photosynthesis. Some newer varieties have been bred to be more Powdery MIldew resistant, but being less resistant doesn’t mean it won’t get the disease. Maintaining the right balance of sunlight exposure is vitally important.

As a turf manager, you must either rely on one’s own interpretation of light and shade along with the grass requirements and growth habits or you can rely on modern electronics that can give you exact measurements of light reading. Actually to do it right takes both. Common sense must also play a part. 

One such light measuring device used by professional turf managers is called a Quantum Light Sensor. It is a device that measures PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) and some models can measure the accumulation of PAR over time called DLI.  The measurements for PAR are called Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density (PPFD). The units of PPFD are micromoles of photons per square meter per second (µmol m.2s1). 

PPFD only measures PAR and the range is from “0” in total darkness to as high as “2000” at midday in summer. While it sounds complicated, understanding the numbers are not. The machine does most of the work. See the common scenario discussed below to learn more on how it works.

 2. Amount of Moisture

Moisture is an important aspect for any grass. Some require more than others to maintain vigor and health. Buffalo Grass is a very drought resistant grass and can’t handle areas of frequent rain or prolonged moisture. Turf Type Tall Fescue is the opposite and requires much more irrigation, especially in hot climates, to maintain color and to prevent it from going dormant. 

In heavy shade moisture doesn’t evaporate as quickly as in the sunlight. The grass you choose will need to be able to withstand longer periods of moisture. If the moisture your grass receives is primarily from sprinklers or by hand watering, then water deeply but about half to one third as often as in full sun. If tree roots are competing for moisture, then irrigate more often. 

Rough Bluegrass and Supina Bluegrass are two species that do well on prolonged moist, shady sites. However, these grasses may not persist in dry, hot summers. You will have to pay close attention to make sure the ground is watered more frequently. Syringing the grass (lightly spraying water over the grass) during the hot part of the day may be needed to keep the grass cool, especially during unseasonably hot summers.

Since shaded soil holds moisture longer than sunlit soil, always irrigate in the early morning. This allows for plants to use what they need and gives the ground time to dry. If you water at night or late evening the moisture will be in the soil much longer. While you may think this is a good thing, it actually isn’t. Persistent prolonged moisture can be a death sentence for grass as it allows for diseases to take off. Many diseases require high moisture for longer periods of time and can be more difficult to control.

 3. Blade Height

Blade height is an important factor.  Turf that is maintained at lower heights require longer periods of sunlight to compensate for shorter blades. Turf Type Tall Fescue that is maintained at two inches high requires more sunlight than grass maintained at 4 inches. To compensate for the lower height, grass plants will put out more blades than the same plant maintained at 4 inches. Raising your mowers blade height may help compensate for shade. Be sure your grass type can be maintained at higher heights. Some, such as Centipedegrass, suffer if allowed to grow too tall.

 4. Temperature

All grasses grow best in a certain temperature range. Warm season grasses thrive in hot weather, where cool season grasses thrive in cooler weather. 

Many of the grasses that are used in shady sites were actually developed in cooler countries than the U.S. The Fine Fescues, for example, many originated in Scotland or similar locations where the temps are much cooler. 

As a result, while Fine Fescues can thrive in full sun, in the U.S. where temps are much warmer, they are relegated as shade grass and are sold as “shade grass seed”. With that in mind, even shade can get hot. Many of the fine fescues as well as some bluegrass varieties, such as Rough Bluegrass and Supina Bluegrass will struggle if the temperatures reach into the 90’s in shade, especially in the south. 

Where temps are high, even in the shade, Turf Type Tall Fescues, such as NightCrawler and Mustang 4 should be considered. Both were bred for  exceptional turf quality in shade or sun and have a high heat tolerance. The Nightcrawler is a rhizomatous grass and spreads by underground stems. Therefore, it is considered a self-healing grass, meaning damaged areas will fill in.

 5. Soil Nutrients

Life begins in the soil, therefore, before you plant is a good time to do a soil test to determine the amount of nutrients that are currently in your soil. Your local University Extension or County Extension Office often have kits for gathering the sample and can mail the sample in for you. 

WIth that said, all grasses have a minimum nutrient requirement. As a general rule, shade turf requires less nutrients than full sun grass of the same species. As much as one half the nitrogen as the grass growing in the sun. This is because there is less photosynthesis happening in the shade. 

High maintenance turf or high activity turf, such as on golf courses or sports fields for example, require more attention, maintenance and nutrients than most home lawns. (check out this article for pro tips on Sports Field Maintenance

It takes skill and knowledge to properly care for a lawn or sports field. Fertilization applications are based on the N (Nitrogen) needed to be put down for that application and for that time of year. Regardless of what is in the bag, you determine how much nitrogen is needed for that application and the other nutrients in the bag are along for the ride. If you are low in Potassium and you need a large amount applied, make sure the fertilizer you are using has a higher percentage of K. This way if you are needing just half a pound of nitrogen, then the bag has a large amount of K that is also going down.

Warm Season Grasses grow steadily starting late spring to fall. Depending on the grass’ nitrogen needs, the grass is fertilized while it is actively growing. The Nitrogen applied is divided up over the year during the growing season. When the grass is dormant there is no activity inside the plant.

Cool Season Grasses grow best in the cooler parts of the year. Based on how cool season grasses grow, three quarters of the entire year’s nitrogen is delivered in the fall. The last and also heaviest application is delivered after the mowers are put away for the year. This is because even though the grass isn’t growing, the roots are very active and are putting away nutrients for the spring growth spurt. 

Fertilization is a complex issue. To know how to fertilize properly be sure to watch for a future article on fertilization techniques.

 The following is a common scenario that many turf managers face when choosing the correct grass type based on light and shade quality:

A lawn care company receives an inquiry about the best turf grass selection for his front and back yard. A family just bought a home in north Texas. The front yard is mostly in full sun with a couple ornamental cherry trees about 15 feet tall but the canopy is narrow. The back has a large shade tree with features that complicate things. The new home owner really wants Bermudagrass in front and back. The turf manager must rightly choose whether the decision of using Bermudagrass is an acceptable choice. Here is one method of meeting this challenge:

A turf manager knows that Bermudagrass is a full sun grass. As a general rule, Bermudagrass is not considered a shade tolerant grass. Most varieties will not grow but a couple feet into dense shade and stop. Even though there are some shade tolerant varieties that have been developed, such as “Celebration” for example, experienced turf managers would advise not using it as a shade grass and only cautiously say that its shade tolerance is greater than standard Bermudagrass varieties. The shade variety has a lower cold tolerance and could suffer winter damage in north Texas with their occasional ice storms.

The big question is how much sun does the grass need per day and how much shade can it take? Bermudagrass needs about 8 hours of sun to thrive and flourish. The minimum may be 7 hours. Morning sun is usually not as good as evening sun. Clearly the front yard may receive enough sunlight to satisfy the demands for efficient photosynthesis. 

The turf manager takes a reading while standing in the front yard from his Quantum Light Sensor at 12 noon in full sun. The reading is 1505 µmol m.2s1. 

However, the backyard is another story. Under the canopy the ground is not covered in total shade, but very patchy with large circles of light shining though.  There is a considerable amount of reflective light bouncing off the house and fence so the shaded area appears much lighter than it would be if the tree was in a different location. The light coming through the trees moves as the sun moves across the sky.

The turf manager takes another reading in the shade and it reads 826 µmol m.2s1. The intensity of sun is 45% less in the backyard than the front yard at the same hour. (826/1505 = 54.8 or rounded up to 55%) There is no way he could recommend bermudagrass as the backyard grass. Although part of the grass at that moment was in full sun, due to the shade tree and the rising and setting of the sun, much of the backyard will never get the amount of sun required for good growth even if he trims the canopy to let more sun in. At the very best the grass will be very thin and will lose many of the qualities, such as a thicker cuticle that helps prevent diseases.

Light Sensor Logger –

The answer is either to have two different grass types in his yard, such as Turf Type Tall Fescue in the back and Bermudagrass in the front and sides. Turf Type Tall Fescue needs a minimum of 3 – 5 hours of direct sunlight. Or if the customer prefers only one type of grass, he could look at St. Augustine, which requires 2 less hours of sunlight for good growth than Bermudagrass and has a high shade tolerance. The problem with St Augustine is that its northern range steeply declines as you travel north of Dallas, Texas.

Regardless of whether your grass is growing in full sun or shade, Turf Formula® is the perfect choice for growing a beautiful lawn. It is formulated to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis and essential soil elements such as organic matter.  Check out this link to learn why Organic Matter Matters  

The tremendous increase in beneficial microbes that Turf Formula brings helps reduce disease problems while increasing root growth and delivering more nutrients to plants. 

Plants need more than fertilizers alone, and Turf Formula® picks up where fertilizers leave off. How It Works? Add Super-Cal® to the Turf Formula® and you have a bio-enhanced super calcium that greatly increases the plant’s health and multiplies your soil’s beneficial microorganisms and more.

Russ James
AgriGro Turf Specialist
Call Russ / Email Russ

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Dr. Nick Christians, Iowa State University 2017, Bell G. E. Turfgrass Physiology and Ecology: “Advanced Management Principles” 2011, Russ James, Lawn Care Academy

Byproducts in Animal Nutrition

What Are Byproducts?

Byproducts makeup a large poultry ration and about one-seventh of the ration for growing and fattening swine in the United States. They are also important in feeding beef and dairy cattle. Almost every food industry furnishes some byproducts for animal feed, but the most important sources are the milling of grain, the processing of oilseeds, the fermentation of grains and molasses, the manufacture of dairy products, and the slaughter of meat animals. The byproduct feeds discussed* here have been grouped for convenience according to their origin.

Byproducts are produced from the production of another item/food, with the primary product often being for human use or consumption. For example, dried distillers grains, or DDG, come from the production of ethanol. Wheat midds come from the production of flour. Other by-products come from animal production, for example, chicken litter can be fed to cattle, and is very high in protein. Something has to be done with these secondary products, and it turns out they have great application in agriculture! With so many types of by-products, it can be difficult to know the primary role of each in animal nutrition. Here’s some quick ways to know what each product can do for your nutritional program.


Meal feeds are a by-product of oil extraction. Oils are high in fat, which is a form of energy, leaving high levels of protein behind once the oil is removed. Meal products can come from plant sources, such as soybeans and cottonseed, or from animal sources, including meat & bone meal and blood meal.

Hulls & Pulp

Hulls and pulp are the outer portion of the seed or fruit and are very high in fiber. While these are often mistaken as fillers, hulls and pulp products are extremely useful when forages are limited.

Distillers Grains

Distillers grains are in a league of their own, being high in both protein and energy. Most feeds are high in one or the other, but high concentrations of oil left behind when starch is removed from the corn kernel allows distillers grains to contain high energy, as well as protein. Distillers grains can come in 3 main forms, dried, modified wet, and wet, while dried distillers grains, also known as DDG, are the most commonly used, since they can be hauled further and are more consistent in dry matter and nutrient content.


Midds are produced when wheat is cleaned for the production of flour and tend to be relatively safe due to the removal of starch during flour production. Wheat midds used to be known as “floor screenings,” but are now identified as a valuable feed source due to its mid-level protein content and high digestibility.


Molasses comes from the production of sugar for human consumption. It is frequently used to increase palatability, and therefore consumption, as well as decrease dust in dry rations.

Additional Notes

Producing byproducts from removing another portion of the feed leaves behind high concentrations. While this can be beneficial, in cases of protein and energy, it can also be dangerous. For example, high levels of phosphorus, calcium, or cottonseed products, gossypol can be left in high concentrations. While these can be harmless, and even beneficial, in small amounts, too much can pose a threat to animal health and should be considered when forming nutritional programs. 


As time goes on, more and more research is being conducted on the efficacy of byproducts in animal nutrition. Secondary products considered as “waste” products only 40 years ago are now proving themselves to be some of the most profitable feeds in the business. While each feed source has its own set of pros and cons, byproducts should not be overlooked in your nutritional program. 


How can you get even more out of your byproducts? 

The answer is simple: Nutri-Zyme®. 

This all-natural prebiotic top dress is designed to promote feed intake and improve vigor, thereby leading to overall improved health and gain. In addition, Nutri-Zyme® has shown to treat cases of scours and bloat, so your calves can get the most out of their feed.  (Check out this blog to learn more about Ruminant Nutrition Basics)

Contact a rep to learn more about adding adding NutriZyme® into your nutritional program.

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Check out what one grower had to say…

“I started using NutriZyme® about one and a half years ago. At that time, I was becoming concerned about the limited use of antibiotics. Some of the issues I was facing… birds going off feed at 3-4 weeks old, my mortality was going up, and the birds were very sizey. This last issue continued until market time creating birds that weighed anywhere from 8 – 16 lbs. We began by spraying the feedlines with NutriZyme®. We observed that the birds responded very well to the product and we started to see fewer gut issues in the birds. With less gut issues and the birds not going off feed, this meant more profit at settlement time. Having seen positive results from the NutriZyme® feed additive, we also began to treat the litter with IndigoLT®. This treatment was to reinforce the placement of good enzymes in the birds’ environment, while slowing the ammonia and keeping the litter dryer. At this time, both products are in use with positive results in bird performance and profit in the flock settlements. Also, I have not had to use any antibiotics in the last year.”



“Byproducts” 2012 Association of American Feed Control Officials