Tag Archive for: turf

Turf Formula

Turf Formula® is the prebiotic edge your turf needs. Our turf formulation is a storehouse of essential elements and growth-promoting substances for use in the seeding, sprigging, sodding, and maintenance of turfgrass.

Turf Formula® is an exclusive prebiotic blend of amino acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, stabilized liquid oxygen, and growth supplements not found in traditional fertilizers. Turf Formula® boosts soil health, improves plant growth and turf quality, and works to provide the maximum release and uptake of nutrients in the soil for turfgrass production.

University research has shown Turf Formula® increases nutrient availability by up to 68%. Research also proves that Turf Formula® lowers sodium levels in the soil and plant tissue. Since sodium competes with potassium for uptake, high sodium levels can greatly reduce the plants’ ability to absorb nutrients.

Turf Formula® Benefits:

– Maximum release and uptake of nutrients

– Surge in early and sustained root development

– Reduces soil pathogens

– Optimizes efficiency in water regulation and utilization

– Boosts growth and qualityIf you’re looking to transform your turf,  Turf Formula® is the product you’ve been looking for. You can feel good knowing you are using less fertilizer and minimizing chemical inputs and switching to a natural, effective fertility program that is truly a cut above the rest!

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Turning a Heavily Shaded, Wild Hog and Hurricane Destroyed Yard into a Beautiful Lawn in 30 Days

My mom lives in southeast Texas and has 7-acres of land with most of it being heavily wooded and unusable. The front lawn, however, is divided by her driveway with 1/5 of the lawn on one side of the driveway and 4/5 on the other side. Our project was on the larger side or the 4/5 side.

It has always been my mom’s desire to have a green lawn, but my dad loved the trees. The heavy shade and soil conditions didn’t allow for grass. About 80% of their 40,000 sq. ft. front yard was dirt with heavy sand/clay soil. They call this gumbo clay in that part of the country. The part we were going to work on measured just about 30,000 sq. ft. 

To make matters worse, the day before we began working on the yard a herd of feral hogs came through and turned up part of the lawn looking for grubs and anything else they could find. The damage was mostly in the shaded part and what we thought was a bad thing actually turned out to be beneficial. With the soil turned up, it was more acceptable for planting seed. We just hoped those feral hogs wouldn’t come back!

 The Challenge of Choosing the Right Seed

Seeded Ground

I was faced with the challenge of choosing the best grass to plant in a place where no grass has ever grown. Being in southeast Texas, Newton County, which is about 80-miles north of the Gulf and 20-miles west of the Louisiana border, most all the grasses that are grown there are warm-season grasses. In fact, the only cool-season grass we were able to find in any store was annual ryegrass, which is overseeded in Bermudagrass, adding some green in winter. We would not plant an annual grass so I made sure I brought the grass seed with me.

The most shade tolerant of all warm-season grasses is St. Augustine, which my mom has in part of the front lawn. However, she also had more than 50 trees – both pines, and hardwoods and these are just in the section we seeded. She had a total of about 60 trees total in her front lawn. Almost half of those trees are in 1/3 of the yard on the east side where the heaviest shade is located. No grass has ever grown there, only a few patches of moss. 

Fortunately, as far as shade goes, a hurricane came through just before we started and damaged six trees, which were soon afterward taken out. This allowed for slightly more light to filter through. But there was quite a bit of debris left behind after the hurricane. We had to remove the limbs and leaves before we could begin.

 How We Considered Light and Heat Levels

Before we started, I took light readings at noon to see how much light was reaching the soil in the most shaded part compared to the full sun sections. What I discovered was that the shaded areas were receiving half the sunlight compared to the full sun, which was great because we had expected it to be much less.  The sun was coming in only in patches through the canopy for most of the day, but in one part of the day between 4 – 6 p.m., most of the shaded area did receive almost full sun (except for the shade cast by the tree trunks). The shade also lowered the temperature by about 20-degrees.  I determined this was enough light to work with using the more shade-tolerant varieties of Turf Type Tall Fescue (TTTF).  Many cool-season grasses are more shade tolerant than the most shade tolerant warm-season grass.

The second consideration was if the more heat-sensitive grass of the mix, the fine fescues, could survive the southern summer heat. This has yet to be seen in this project, but we will keep watch over it. Fine fescues are the most shade tolerant, but also the most heat-sensitive of all cool-season grasses. 

In the U.S. fine fescues are relegated strictly as shade grass. Most fine fescues cannot take full sun and this is especially so in southern locations. Yet they can still fail in the shade if the heat gets too high.

For this reason, I made sure there were not just fine fescues in the shade mix. There are about eight different varieties altogether, three varieties of fine fescue and five varieties of TTTF including Nightcrawler TTTF and Cross 4 TTTF. Both are very shade tolerant and crossfire 4 performs well in the deep south while nightcrawler is one of the few fescues that put out rhizomes. The idea for all the varieties is if one variety fails in a specific location then the others will take over.

New Lawn After 30 Days

 How We Started This Project

Our job was not an easy one. At just under 30,000 sq. ft., it was large enough that we had to be careful about the equipment we chose. We needed to break the surface of the soil but didn’t want to rent a walk-behind dethatcher since most are quite small. So I made a 36″ wide dethatcher from materials my mom had in the shop.

Here is how we began…

Using 2×4’s and plywood, along with 6″ nails, I made a dethatcher I could pull behind the mower. The only part of the dethatcher that was touching the soil was the end with the nails sticking out about 2.5 inches. I lined the 2 X 4’s up on either side of the 36″ wide plywood, clamped them in place, and drove nails down the length of the wood. 

Note: The nails I used are labeled as “Pole Barn Nails” and are pretty strong.

I also went to the tire store and got a damaged car tire tube they were going to throw away. I used this to weigh down the dethatcher. I cut the tube in two sections to handle it better and when I was finished, the nails on the dethatcher had about 60 lbs pushing down on them. I use car tires filled with sand because the tubes do not bounce and stay in place. If I used cinder blocks they would have bounced out quickly without tying them down. Since I had to lift up the dethatcher often to clean out the pine needles and leaves caught in the nails, the tire tubes worked much better. In fact, it worked perfectly and for the first few hours, I ran the dethatcher over the lawn in different directions. This broke up the surface and also removed some moss in one location as well as smoothed the damaged soil by hogs.

I then spread the seed. I went over the yard twice. First with a shade grass mix that included five different varieties of seed. This was used primarily in the most shaded part of the lawn. Then again with turf-type tall fescue with five varieties. Afterward I used the backside of a rake and covered the seed with a thin layer of soil. A total of eight varieties of seed were used because there were two varieties that were the same in each bag. I spread each variety, shade grass and TTTF separately so I knew exactly how much of each type was being applied. In the bare ground sections, I spread 10 lbs total per 1,000 sq. ft. In the full sun sections, I only spread the TTTF.

Since there was no soil test performed at that time, the following day I applied a starter fertilizer to ensure there was enough Phosphorus for the new seeds. Phosphorus (P) in the soil is relatively immobile. It doesn’t flow or move with rainwater or irrigation once it enters the soil. There may be plenty of P for mature grass but since the young roots of the germinated seed are short they may not be able to reach it. Therefore, starter fertilizer is often recommended. 

Then we began watering the seed to keep it moist, watering at least twice a day and sometimes three times. The seeds must take in water until they germinate. It took eight days to begin to see grass blades emerging from the seed. The photos showing a green lawn were taken 30 days after planting the seed. Next spring I will get an update on the grass.

 The Benefits of Using Turf Formula® and SuperCal®

Turf Formula® mixed with Super-Cal® is being used. Together they increase the soil microorganisms tremendously as well as increase seed germination. In studies, starting with 5,500,000 CFU (Colony Forming Units) of viable microbes, the studies showed within 72-hours the numbers increased to 187,000,000. This increase in beneficial microbial numbers and activity breakdown soil elements faster into nutrients the plants can use. While fertilizers usually contain just three elements, Turf Formula works on the full spectrum of elements that are broken down by microbes and can be used by plants.  

Turf Formula® can also increase nutrient uptake, make photosynthesis more efficient and create healthier plants with increased root numbers and depth. Plus, soil pathogens are decreased helping plants to better withstand stress and drought. 

I would never grow grass without Turf Formula® and SuperCal® since it has proven itself to be a great benefit in creating better, healthier turf.

Russ James
AgriGro Turf Specialist

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Organic Matter Matters

Organic matter (OM) is an essential soil element needed for healthy plants. It is home to many different types of microorganisms and macroorganisms that contribute to creating a healthy environment for plants. Beneficial microorganisms are the primary vehicle for converting soil OM into nutrients and soil components. OM helps in retaining water, is a home to beneficial microbes, it raises the soil’s CEC, is a food source for microorganisms and earthworms and contains all the essential plant nutrients. All nutrients that come from OM are in a form plants can use.

Where Organic Matter Comes From

Organic Matter comes mostly from plant tissue. This may consist of grass blades left on the lawn after mowing, shed roots, plant stems, fallen leaves, decomposed branches and twigs, and more. 

A single blade of healthy grass will live for about 40 – 60 days before dying. This is why grass plants have to continually put out new tillers. These dead blades contribute to the soil’s OM. Healthy grass will be able to out pace the shed blades so the grass doesn’t thin. Not only that, but a grass plant will shed its older roots and replace them throughout the year. These shed roots also contribute to the soil OM.

Other contributors to soil organic matter are leaves from trees and shrubs, fallen twigs, insect bodies, earthworms, insect feces, and more are all contributors to your soil’s OM.

Plant Nutrient Cycle

Plant tissue contains 60 – 90% water. As the tissue dries it also decomposes, primarily via soil microorganisms made up of bacteria and fungi of a group labeled, “the decomposers”.  They release the nutrients contained in the plant and animal tissue back into the soil to be used again. This is called “The Nutrient Cycle”. What is released back into the soil consists of carbon (C), Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K) sulphur (S), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) and more. There are a total of 16 essential nutrients plants need. 

As an example, if you do not remove the grass blades when mowing, but leave them on the lawn to decompose, it puts back 1 – 2 lbs Nitrogen each year. Figuring this into your maintenance can reduce the amount of nutrients you add through fertilization.

Different Forms of Organic Matter

Soil organic matter is made up of different  components in different stages of decomposition. They consist of:

  • Plant Residues – mown grass blades, tree and plant leaves, shed roots, etc.
  • Microbial Biomass – The Microbial Biomass is the measure of the living component of soil organic matter. These microbes breakdown plant and animal tissues into nutrients. The process continues until it reaches its final stage of growth. (Many hands make light work, learn more on why having an abundance of beneficial microbes in the soil at critical stages throughout the growing season is like having extra hands on the farm during harvest.)

  • Detritus – Detritus is organic matter that was produced by living organisms, either while alive or dead. It includes dead and decomposing organisms such as earthworms and insects bodies, soil bacteria and fungi as well as fecal matter left behind by living organisms.

  • Humus – This is the final result of fully decomposed organic matter. It is OM that has been decomposed as far as it can go and is what gives healthy soil its dark color.  It can remain in this state for centuries. However, humus adds tremendously to soil health in many ways.

    Humus indirectly contributes to soil fertility by absorbing and storing soil nutrients in a plant available form. It also forms good components of soil structure and soil tilth. Humus can absorb many times its weight in water and it can trap air that helps make soil more porous. All of this contributes to a more suitable base for plant life and microorganisms.

    Beneficial soil fungi have the primary role of binding soil particles together into larger aggregates that provide better air and water penetration and add a resistance to erosion and compaction

How Much OM is Needed for Turf

Healthy turf does well on 2 – 4% OM.  If a soil test shows below 1.5% organic matter, consider adding amendments in the form of compost or high quality loamy soil. It may take several thin applications spaced a couple months apart to reach the desired amount . For turf, you do not need more than 6% OM. Having more than 6% can start to reverse your efforts of creating the perfect turf. For example, sod that is grown in high OM soil has difficulty rooting well in clay loam or sandy soils and the sod may be unsellable.

Look to AgriGro® for Help

AgriGro’s Turf Formula® mixed with SuperCal® Calcium forms a powerful bio-enhanced calcium that increases the soil’s native microorganisms by 3,400% in 24 hours and 5,000% in 72 hours.

This speeds up the breakdown from plant tissue to nutrients and helps to build soil structure. In addition, plant root mass increases in number and depth. It also helps with more efficient photosynthesis, increases fluid and nutrient uptake and improves plant health.

If you are planting seed, SeedMaxx® from AgriGro’s Crops line helps with seed germination and helps seedlings to establish a more even emergence and root well. You can’t go wrong with these well proven products.

Call today for a free soil analysis to determine exactly what your turf needs. 

Russ James
AgriGro Turf Specialist

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Sports Field Maintenance

Everyone loves a beautiful green lawn. Whether it is a sports field or an immaculate lawn, both are built on similar principles. However, sports field managers understand the high expectations placed on them. They must produce and maintain a quality playing field that can handle tremendous abuse without sacrificing appearance or quality. They perform their job with little or no fanfare working when no one is present. Most players will come and go and never know their name or the hard work that went into making a great playing field. If they do a terrible job, however, everyone will know their name.

Winning The Turf War

In suburban and high population areas, quality sports fields are especially necessary for sports of all ages. Championships are won and lost on sports fields across the country. Sports teams spend hours on end running back and forth across the field and turf managers must have the knowledge to counter all the activity on the grass to keep it looking good all season long. It’s a battle dealing with sports turf management simply from the usage aspect, but problems of compaction, disease and poor drainage as well need to be met and fixed before major damage occurs. Therefore, what goes into sports field management is vitally important.

The Best Turf Grass Types for Your Climate 

Not all grasses can handle the demands placed on it by organized sports, therefore grass types are important. Some grasses are better designed to handle the heavy traffic and the type you choose depends largely on where you live.

Cool Season Grass:

In the Transition Zone and the Northern United States, cool season grass will work best although the Transition Zone is a tricky area and is considered the most difficult place in the U.S. to grow quality turf.

When cool season grasses are preferred, Kentucky Bluegrass is often mixed with Perennial RyeGrass or Turf Type Tall Fescue (TTTF) on a sports field. Kentucky Bluegrass works well in this scenario because it will handle the traffic demands and will produce runners that will help “heal” or fill in the damaged spots.

Perennial Ryegrass cannot take the cold weather in the Northern United States, therefore, is best suited for the transition zone. Although Perennial Ryegrass is often used, TTTF can handle heavy traffic pressure better. Kentucky Bluegrass can be used as a stand alone grass in the Northern States.

In the Transition Zone, which covers about half of the central United States, cool season grasses are also preferred. Turf Type Tall Fescue has better cold tolerance than Perennial Ryegrass,  so TTTF is most often used where winter temperatures can still drop near zero or below.

Warm Season Grass:

If you live in the Southern United States, warm season grass will be best. Bermudagrass is the favored grass and is generally a stand alone grass. Although Annual Ryegrass is often spread over dormant Bermudagrass just before the sports season has ended. Bermudagrass has the ability to…

  • heal itself when damaged
  • grow quickly in summer
  • take a lot of traffic
  • and look great

There are many different improved varieties of Bermudagrass that are preferred over the common varieties due to their problems with cold weather damage, disease and slow growth.

Zoysia, another great warm season grass, can handle the stress of heavy traffic well but it grows and spreads too slowly for sports turf so it is better used as a fairway grass.

Taking Soil Composite Into Account 

In most cases, when constructing  community sports fields, the materials used will often depend  on how much money is allocated for construction and maintenance. Due to money constraints, construction crews frequently use the existing soil at that location. This can be the beginning of problems down the road.  One such common problem if the soil is a clay composite, is compaction and poor drainage.

To help alleviate the problem, there will need to be a 1% to 1.5% grade to assist in drainage. It may also take core aeration once or even twice a month to help relieve compaction. In severe cases of compaction, deep tine aeration using solid tines may be needed along with core aeration. Multiple passes in different directions are needed and will cause no harm to the grass.

Many people know that sand helps with water movement and drainage. Although sand based fields are the best overall, in that sand doesn’t compact, a common problem occurs however when sports field managers bring in sand and rototill it into the top few inches of soil without any soil testing. If the wrong size sand is used it can cause even more problems with drainage and compaction. When this happens, the fix may be to remove the top 4 – 6 inches of soil and replace it and you are essentially starting over from scratch.

Every area of the country is different when it comes to soil types and composition.  The best mode of action is to start with the best understanding of the soil you are working with. To ensure accurate results, standards must be set for performing soil sampling and testing. There are actually a few labs across the country that specialize in testing soil composite to determine the right materials and amounts needed.

The world leader on building sand based fields is the USGA. In 1993 construction crews used the formula for building greens and adapted it to sports fields, which is now called the USGA Type Field. Over the years a number of sand-based sports field building methods have been developed, including the AirField System out of Oklahoma City and the Prescription Athletic Turf System (PAT).

Fertilization of Sports Fields

Sports fields have higher nutritional needs than a home lawn. What makes it harder is if the sports field was made using a sand-based method. With sand you will have a far lower CEC that does not have the ability to hold many nutrients. Sand-based fields may comprise up to 80% to 90% sand.

Fertilization will need to be applied at low Nitrogen (N) rates every 7 to 14 days on sand fields. This method is called spoon feeding and was developed originally for golf greens. Low N applications of .1 to .4 lbs N per 1000 sq ft during the season depending on grass type and grass needs. Because of sand’s inability to hold nutrients, multiple feedings give the grass more opportunity to feed before nutrients leach below the root zone. Soil tests will need to be performed to see where nutrient levels are situated. Because of the low CEC, Potassium (K) will probably need to be added to help manage turf stress. If soil pH is high due to high volumes of sand, chelated iron may need to be added. If the pH is above 7.2 the iron will need to be able to be foliarly absorbed. In high pH soil, the minute iron touches the soil it is converted to a form that plants cannot use. All other essential nutrients will need to be monitored as well.

Help to Make Life Better for Turf Managers

Sports field managers have high expectations placed on them. They must keep the fields looking good no matter how much activity is on it. This means consistent fertilization on sand fields. There is a lot of pressure on turf managers to find ways to reduce nutrient run-off and nutrient inputs without sacrificing turf quality. AgriGro’s Turf Formula has been shown to be the turf managers best friend.

Using Turf Formula mixed with SuperCal liquid calcium has been used by turf managers for decades. I interviewed a golf course builder, Roy Briggs, from Florida (formally a Golf Course Superintendent) about using Turf Formula. He told me he was able to reduce his nutrient inputs by 35% using Turf Formula and SuperCal Calcium and had better looking greens than using traditional methods. He said in two days he would begin to see a green up.  It kept the players happy and satisfied the city.

How does Turf Formula Work?

Turf Formula and SuperCal were tested by the University of Missouri/Columbia. Within 24 hours of application, the soil’s native microbial populations were increased by 3400% and 5000% in 72 hours. This increase in beneficial microbial activity breaks down soil elements into nutrients plants can use, helps with water and nutrient uptake, increases root volume, increases plant health, decreases disease pathogens and much more.

Calcium is essential for plant growth and development for the soil’s native microbial populations to function at their highest potential.  Inside the plant, calcium is used to help move nutrients through the plant, builds plant walls (cuticle), reduces disease occurrence and is essential for photosynthesis. Together, Turf Formula and SuperCal Calcium make a bio-enhanced calcium blend that is fantastic for plant and soil health and is used successfully by professionals around the world.

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  • Dr. Nick Christians, professor of Horticulture, Iowa State University
  • Fundamentals of Turf Management
  • Stewart Brown, Sports Turf and Amenity Grassland Management
  • Russ James, Lawn Care Academy