How to optimise nitrogen inputs

By Alistair April 2, 2022 09:15

The development of readily available synthetic nitrogen fertilisers after World War II has played a central role in dramatic crop production improvements. Yields have improved five-fold on average. This phenomenal advancement is often referred to as the Green Revolution. Economical and abundant nitrogen availability means that nitrogen is now rarely a limiting factor in achieving increased yields. In fact, adding nitrogen beyond what the plant is able to properly metabolise leads to reduced yields and quality. Nitrogen inefficiencies contribute to important environmental issues. In the absence of balanced nutrition, nitrogen fertilisation can be highly detrimental.

This so-called Green Revolution had a direct effect on nitrogen inputs used within sports turf management, and to a certain extent continues to do so today. Nitrogen is an essential component of chlorophyll, amino acids, proteins, nucleic acids and enzymes. It influences shoot and root growth, shoot density, cold and drought hardiness, colour, recuperative potential and disease susceptibility.

We as an industry, have generally understood the need to reduce nitrogen inputs in line with the needs of particular sports turf surfaces and the requirements of specific grass species. We are not driven by crop yields and although we understand the need for vegetative growth, we are far more focused on managing this aspect of plant growth in accordance with certain performance targets.

Agronomic strategies to dramatically improve nitrogen benefits:

1. Improved nitrogen metabolism

Nitrate-nitrogen stored in the cell vacuole is of minimal value to the plant if the plant does not have the resources to convert it. Excess accumulation in the cells leads to chemical and physiological changes in the cells that are detrimental. Some of these effects are weaker cells which are more susceptible to abiotic and biotic stress, increased vegetative growth, and reduced turf cell wall structure. Nitrogen metabolism is the relative rate of nitrate-nitrogen conversion to amino acids.

A key technology for strategic nitrogen metabolism is TurfRx Supreme. This is a reacted plant nutrient product that contains soluble carbon compounds derived from a proprietary fermentation process. TurfRx Supreme dramatically improves the plant’s ability to properly metabolise nitrogen. This can lead to improved amino acid and protein production.

2. Increased nitrogen efficiency

Assuring adequate, but not excessive, availability of nitrogen will facilitate plant nitrogen metabolism. The form, frequency, and rates of nitrogen need to be managed properly. Improving soil microbial activity will reduce nitrogen losses to the environment. Synthetic nitrogen fertilisers applied to the soil all tend to eventually stabilise in the nitrate-nitrogen form due to microbial interactions. In the nitrate form, nitrogen is extremely mobile in the soil and if the nitrification process is on the surface, nitrous oxide is volatilised. Forty to 60 percent of applied nitrogen is commonly lost to a combination of volatilisation and leaching.

A simple and highly effective method for reducing nitrogen losses is the use of TurfRx C-85. This is a reacted soluble carbon nutrient product designed to improve soil microbial activity. It contains short, medium, and long-chain soluble carbon compounds. Improved soil biology incorporates nitrogen into biological processes effectively maintaining nitrogen in the root zone.

3. Balanced nutrition

Assuring optimum levels of other essential plant nutrients will greatly offset the tendency to store too much nitrate-nitrogen in the plant cells with potassium being especially critical. Phosphorous can also assist the plant to develop an efficient root system which increases its ability to access available nitrogen.

A fundamental strategy to maximise turf quality from nitrogen and allow for optimum plant metabolic functions, is to ensure that the plant has balanced nutrition. Balanced potassium nutrition is vital. Potassium is a key element for plant ion balance. An outstanding product for this benefit is TurfRx K+ Micro Crystal. This is a reacted nutrient product high in potassium and phosphorous, reacted with proprietary soluble compounds that promote antioxidant production. Higher antioxidant production reduces abiotic stress. Also containing plant-available phosphorous, root development is driven which will in turn result in access to a greater pool of nutrient and water reserves within the rootzone.

Aquatrols is committed to pioneering new methods that advance conservation and health for agriculture, turf and horticulture. Within the turf management sector there has been an increasing demand to reduce nitrogen inputs while also producing playing surfaces of the highest quality. The drivers for this desire to reduce overall nitrogen applications could be many and varied but typically fall into three categories:

• The negative effects of nitrogen leachate on the environment

• The desire to favour certain grass species over others

• The requirement to adhere to both existing and future legislation.

The Redox TurfRx range offers solutions for the modern turf manager to optimise nitrogen inputs.


By Alistair April 2, 2022 09:15

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