Tank mixing order

Tank mixing order

20lknapsack1It is not uncommon for multiple pesticides and fertilizers to be mixed together in the same sprayer tank so they can all be applied in one go. Most pesticides labels provide information on compatibility with other pesticides and fertilizers, but testing of all combinations is impossible. If a substance is not specifically mentioned as compatible, follow the label to perform a compatibility test.

To minimize the risk of active ingredients of different formulations interacting with each other, the following mixing order should be used, from first to last:

  1. Wettable Powders (WP or W)  –  finely ground solids, typically mineral clays, to which an active ingredient is sorbed. They provide an effective way to apply an active ingredient in a water spray that is not readily soluble in water. These dry preparations look like dust, contain a high percent active ingredient (usually 50 percent or more) and are mixed with water for application. Wettable powders form a suspension rather than true solution when added to water. Good agitation (mixing) is needed in the spray tank to maintain the suspension.
  2. Dispersible Granules (WDG)  – manufactured in the same way as wettable powders except that the powder is aggregated into granular particles. They are mixed with water and applied in a spray exactly like a wettable powder. This dry formulation usually contains 70 to 90 percent active ingredient.
  3. Flowable or Aqueous Suspension (F, L or AS)  – very finely ground solid material suspended in a liquid. Liquid flowables usually contain a high concentration (4 pounds or more) of active ingredient and are mixed with water for application.
  4. Emulsifiable Concentrate (E or EC)  – usually contains the active ingredient, one or more petroleum solvents, and an emulsifier that allows the formulation to be mixed with water.  These concentrates are soluble in oil and form an emulsion in water. The emulsion-forming characteristic results from the addition of adjuvants to the herbicide formulation.
  5. Solutions

When using a sprayer:

  • Calibrate the sprayer
  • Read the herbicide label and wear personal protection equipment
  • Fill the tank half way with water, never mix concentrated chemicals in an empty tank
  • Measure chemicals you are adding to the tank.
  • Apply the pesticide according to label directions.
Foliar Iron Application

Foliar Iron Application

Note : the article below was written by fellow lawn care enthusiast MorpheusPA and is being reproduced here with his permission. Head on over to his blog for more great tips on lawn and garden care : The Green, Green Grass of Home

Iron applications help with the lawn color, but generally do little for the soil.  They’re always optional, but if you find your lawn color is more yellow than you like, they will help restore color.

There are three methods–bottled iron products from any big box store, ferrous sulfate, and ferrous ammonium sulfate.  This article discusses all three below.

Warning:  Iron should never be applied if the temperature will exceed 85 within the next 24 hours.  If the weather takes you by surprise, irrigate the grass enough to wash the iron off of the leaves.  Failing to do so may risk a burn.

Bottled Iron Products:

Almost every big box and local gardening store will carry pre-mixed bottles of iron.  Often, the iron is listed as “chelated,” or bound to an organic molecule to preserve it against chemical reaction.  While this isn’t important when the product is on the leaves, it will help the grass continue to absorb the iron after the product has been watered in.

Most bottled iron products contain 3% to 6% iron by weight, although there are certainly exceptions.  Check the label to make certain that the product’s price is reasonable for the amount of iron it contains.

Simply follow the label instructions and observe all warnings about temperature of application.  If the temperature limit of usage is not listed, assume it shouldn’t be used if temperatures exceed 85.

Most of the chelates used aren’t effective at higher pH levels, so there isn’t much sense in paying for the chelation if your pH is much over 7.2.

These products are readily available, pre-mixed, and sometimes come in their own spray containers.  The down-side is that they tend to be much more expensive than home-made options.  They’re a great initial test to see if your lawn will respond well to iron, and a good option even after that for people who don’t wish to mix their own.

Ferrous Sulfate:

Ferrous Sulphate

The name sounds a bit scary, but it’s just iron sulfate, or iron bound to sulfur and oxygen. Ferrous sulfate (technically, ferrous sulfate heptahydrate, or including 7 molecules of water attached to the ferrous sulfate) is 15% elemental iron by weight, or one of the higher amounts of iron easily available to homeowners and safe for lawns.

Ferrous sulfate, or iron sulfate, is often available in small quantities at gardening stores in the Bonide brand, and the quality is excellent. Larger quantities can be purchased online.

For elite bluegrasses, 4 ounces of ferrous sulfate per thousand square feet diluted in a minimum of 1 gallon of water seems to be the best amount to use.  For non-elite bluegrasses, any amount up to and including 4 ounces of ferrous sulfate in 1 gallon of water per thousand square feet seems best.  For fescues and ryegrasses, 2 ounces per thousand in 1 gallon of water per thousand square feet maximum would be the limit.  Overapplication will result in very dark grass.  In the case of fescues and ryegrasses, it can turn an unnatural almost black-gray-green color that’s fairly unattractive.  The grass is healthy, and will eventually regain normal coloration, but this can take several weeks to months.

Mix externally in a bucket and pour the solution into the sprayer, leaving any undissolved ferrous sulfate and foreign material behind.  This will reduce clogging considerably.

Mix the above amount of ferrous sulfate plus a small amount of any surfactant into 1 gallon of water.  For a surfactant, you can use a quarter to half an ounce of baby shampoo or inexpensive adult shampoo, dish soap (non anti-bacterial), or Morpheus Soil Conditioner.

Again, never spray the lawn if the temperature will exceed 85 degrees within 24 hours.  If you discover that the weather has changed and the temperature is now too warm, irrigate the lawn immediately to wash the mix off the leaves and into the soil.

Discard any unused solution appropriately as it doesn’t store well and will rapidly turn to rust.  Make certain to clean your sprayer afterward, including running water through the wand, to avoid clogs.

Ferrous Ammonium Sulfate:

Ammonium Sulphate
Ammonium Sulphate

This name sounds a bit scarier than ferrous sulfate!  However, it’s simply iron and ammonia bound to a sulfate.  Although it contains less iron by weight than ferrous sulfate, the mix is home-made and will contain the same amount of elemental iron as the ferrous sulfate you put into it.  Consequently, if you used 4 ounces of ferrous sulfate, you’ve applied 0.60 ounces of elemental iron.

So why use it?  The darkening from ferrous ammonium sulfate exceeds that of ferrous sulfate.  Ferrous ammonium sulfate is a somewhat more stable solution as well, being less likely to turn to rust before the grass can absorb it. Ammonium sulfate contains 21% nitrogen, supplying the nitrogen needed to generate chlorophyll (the green color) in plants.

Making ferrous ammonium sulfate requires two chemicals:  ferrous sulfate and ammonium sulfate.

Ferrous sulfate, or iron sulfate, is often available in small quantities at gardening stores in the Bonide brand, and the quality is excellent. Larger quantities can be purchased online.

Ammonium sulfate is often not available at local stores, but can be purchased online from The Organic Store.  The link is to the main fertilizer section, so you will need to scan down to find ammonium sulfate.

For elite bluegrasses, 4 ounces of ferrous sulfate per thousand square feet diluted in a minimum of 1 gallon of water seems to be the best amount to use.  For non-elite bluegrasses, any amount up to and including 4 ounces of ferrous sulfate in 1 gallon of water per thousand square feet seems best.  For fescues and ryegrasses, 2 ounces per thousand in 1 gallon of water per thousand square feet maximum would be the limit.  Overapplication will result in very dark grass.  In the case of fescues and ryegrasses, it can turn an unnatural almost black-gray-green color that’s fairly unattractive.  The grass is healthy, and will eventually regain normal coloration, but this can take several weeks to months.

To create ferrous ammonium sulfate, take the amount you chose above and multiply by 0.85.  Add that much ammonium sulfate to the mix.

So for several mixing levels:

Ferrous sulfate amount: Ammonium sulfate amount:
1.0 oz 0.85 oz
2.0 oz 1.70 oz
3.0 oz 2.55 oz
4.0 oz 3.40 oz

 

…and so on, always using 0.85 ounces of ammonium sulfate for each ounce of ferrous sulfate you use.

What happens if you make a slight mistake?  Nothing, really.  Using too much ferrous sulfate is no issue at all, you’re simply applying a mixed solution of ferrous sulfate and ferrous ammonium sulfate.

Using too much ammonium sulfate is not much greater of an issue.  Although ammonium sulfate can strip a bit of calcium from the plant, a minor imbalance in the amount used won’t cause any problems.  Some fertilizers use ammonium sulfate as their primary nitrogen source and work well without damaging the grass.

Mix externally in a bucket and pour the solution into the sprayer, leaving any undissolved ferrous sulfate, ammonium sulfate, and foreign material behind.  This will reduce clogging considerably.  When adding it to your sprayer, use a small amount of any surfactant into 1 gallon of water.  For a surfactant, you can use a quarter to half an ounce of baby shampoo or inexpensive adult shampoo, dish soap (non anti-bacterial), or Morpheus Soil Conditioner.

For this chemical, spraying above 80 degrees is not recommended as it has a higher probability to cause burning.

If you discover that the weather has changed and the temperature is now too warm, irrigate the lawn immediately to wash the mix off the leaves and into the soil.

Discard any unused solution appropriately as it doesn’t store well and will rapidly turn to rust–although more stable, it will still transform over a day or so.  Make certain to clean your sprayer afterward, including running water through the wand, to avoid clogs.

Are organic fertilizers worth it?

Are organic fertilizers worth it?

Recently the popularity of organic fertilizers has been on the rise. More and more people use cracked corn, alfalfa or soy bean meal as their main source of nutrients for their lawn.  Proponents of organic fertilizers often claim that the use of organic fertilizers brings has great benefits. Let’s analyze each claim:

  • Hard to overdose vs. synthetic. This is true. While application instructions on fertilizer bags are generally clear and easy to follow, some novices may feel more at ease knowing they can’t really over-apply and hurt the lawn. Synthetic fertilizers are fairly forgiving as well though, I have applied synthetic fertilizer at double the rate with no ill effects except to my back from all the extra mowing.
  • Slow release. This is also true. Organic fertilizers have to be broken down by bacteria before nutrients becomes available to the plant, resulting in a slow trickle of nitrogen.  However, synthetic options such as coated urea and UMAXX exists at a cost up to 7 times lower per pound of nitrogen.
  • Feeds the soil microbes. This is true, but the need for an over-inflated microbial population in the soil beyond what grass clippings and bugs and normal natural processes can sustain is unclear.
  • Increases organic matter/improves soil structure. This claim is false. Studies have shown little to no long term contribution to soil organic matter content from materials applied on the surface. In pastures studies have shown grass roots to be the major contributor to organic matter – up to 80%. Other studies have show shoot restitution programs to have zero or negative effects of soil organic matter.
  • Safer for kids and dogs. This claim is also false, both are equally safe. No child is going to pick granules of fertilizer out of lawn, and if they did, it’s unclear which one would be worse, a granule of urea or a piece of rotting corn coated in bacteria and fungus.

Organic fertilizers do come with some clear disadvantages over synthetic fertilizers:

  • Cost. Organic fertilizer is up to 11 times more expensive per pound of nitrogen than urea and up to 7 times more expensive per pound of nitrogen that coated urea.
  • Cumbersome. It takes 13-20 pounds of organic material per thousand square feet vs 2 pounds of urea per thousand square feet to apply one pound of elemental nitrogen. That can literally add up to truckloads of corn per year for larger lawns.
  • Slow to act. Since the organic matter has to be broken down by bacteria and fungi before nutrients become available to the plant, it takes a while before you see any results, generally 3-4 weeks.
  • Unpredictable. No one can say for sure when the nitrogen is going to be available to the plant. Availability of nitrogen also changes with temperature since bacterial activity slows once it gets cooler.
  • Unsustainable. Plant derived organic fertilizers are the equivalent of using a gas engine to power a generator which is then used to release hydrogen from water through electrolysis which is then burnt to power a car via steam. Also, a lot more carbon is spewed into the atmosphere for the production and delivery of 20 pounds of corn than for the equivalent 2 pounds of urea.

So with very little benefit backed by mostly anecdotal evidence and a lot of disadvantages, what place does organic fertilizer have in the average lawn? There are situations where organic fertilizers are needed, such as fertilizing an area where nitrogen runoff must be avoided. For most homeowners, synthetic fertilizers work faster, are less work to apply and are significantly less expensive than organic fertilizer. Give your grass the nutrients it needs and the grass will always be greener on your side.