Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Simple Fertility

Here at Tacoma C&GC, we fertilize almost exclusively with liquids that we blend ourselves.  Why? Because it's the most ecomomical way to purchase fertilizer, and we can control the ratios of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium and all other necessarry elements.  This picture below shows the three main components of our blends.  All three of these materials are highly soluble and therefore readily go into solution.  We "melt" them into solution using the inductor which feeds into the 1100 gallon batch tank at our chemical storage building.
Below in this picture you can see Doug feeding the inductor.  The entire batch tank system is powered by a trash pump.  After all desired products are fed into the inductor, it is disconected from the system and then the trash pump keeps all 1100 gallons of fertilizer agitated or circulating for whatever desired length of time to ensure everything is mixed up.
This picture also clearly shows the pipe connection which is tied into the irrigation system and is our source of water for the mix.  The trash pump is on a timer which we typically set to come on 3 times during the night and run for an hour each cycle.  This next picture shows what the tank looks like from inside the building.
As soon as we are ready to apply the fertilizer, the same pump which powered the inductor and agitation is then used to transfer the mix to the spayer.  It takes a few minutes for the transfer and during that time, other products are added into the spray tank to make up the final blend. Some of these other products might be micro nutrients, growth regulators, etc.  One of the most important additives is a nitrogen stabilizer.  This product makes the final mix cooler, meaning a lower salt index which eliminates the possibility of fertilizer burn.  It also makes the nitrogen act like a slow release fertilizer so we minimize the chance of making the grass "flush" or grow rapidly.  One of the main advantages of making a custom blend like this is we have more control over plant growth.  The color response, and growth rate with our custom blend is predictable which isn't always the case when you  feed turf using granular applied products like the ones most of us use on our lawns at home.


making the transfer to the sprayer
 You can see that the concept of "batching" fertilizer is pretty neat and quite handy if you want to customize your fertilizer.  But one of the biggest advantages is efficiency.  It's economically efficient because we buy fertilizer in it's raw, "simple" form.  It's also time efficient because the blending is done the day before apllication.  This means we can quickly refill the sprayer in minutes and stay ahead of play on the day it's applied.

spraying fertilizer using a foam marker


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