Granular vs. Liquid Fertilizers

Golf

You know as well as the next superintendent, that fertilizer is critical to promote healthy, playable turf conditions. When it comes to choosing the products you use, the various forms will have an enormous impact on how well the turf responds and how much it will impact your impact your maintenance budget. And while turf isn’t able to differentiate between what form the nutrients are applied in, there are vast differences between granular and liquids products. There are several pros and cons to each which are important to understand and it‘s helpful to review these differences prior to choosing between these types of applications to decide which will work best for you and your turf.

Here’s a concise synopsis of both granular and liquid fertilizer products.

 

Granular Fertilizer

Pros:

  • Easier to store
  • If stored properly, it doesn’t go bad
  • Homogeneous granules have a uniform amount of nutrients
  • Slow-release granules help feed turf for longer periods
  • More efficient for pre-plant applications
  • Easily customizable for site specific turf needs
  • Cheaper when purchased in bulk totes (1K and 2K)

Cons:

  • High salt content can burn leaves and steer roots away from nutrients if applied improperly
  • Immobile nutrients such as phosphorus can’t get any closer to the roots because they can’t be carried like liquid in water
  • Blended products have individual nutrient components in every granule, can lead to non-uniform amount of nutrients distributed if not applied correctly
  • Inappropriate application can lead to burning of turf
  • Applications may require clean-up (sweeping up extra fertilizer off of paved surfaces) and may drift into flowers or shrubs

 

Liquid Fertilizer

Pros:

  • Easier to handle when blending and applying
  • Provides uniform application
  • Available for both starter and in-season nutrient application
  • Even application, identical nutrients in every drop
  • Nutrients become readily available to plants
  • Can be ground applied or foliar applied (taken up by roots or leaves of plants)
  • Foliar applications allow for fast corrections to mid-season deficiencies
  • Ease of blending. Mixes well with other turf pesticides, other control or soil amendment technologies
  • Phosphorus is more mobile in liquid applications
  • More control over creating your own mix
  • Easy clean-up
  • Less chance of drift to nearby flower and shrub beds

Cons:

  • Cost of application is more expensive than granular option
  • Can be expensive to convert equipment to handle liquid fertilizer
  • More susceptible to volatilization and loss
  • Fast-release technology requires frequent applications to maintain lawn health & color
  • Improper mixing and application can burn turf
  • Products can settle out over time and in regions that experiences cold weather, products can salt out (sludge-like matter that develops when the temperature of the water cools, triggering the some of the fertilizer concentrate to revert back to its solid form; causing it to clog your sprayers if not brought back to normal temperature and mixed once warmer weather returns)
  • Products have a shelf life of roughly 8-10 years
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