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Building Your Fertility Program

Your goal as a turf manager should be to provide adequate nutrition that promotes turf density and in turn improves field safety and playing conditions. 

Many factors will influence the ultimate fertility program you develop including: grass species, soil type, time of year, intensity of field use, performance expectations, specific sport, budget, equipment, available labor, etc.

Some managers develop their sports field fertility program based on their experience, turf performance and generally accepted guidelines. 

However, routine soil testing that provides baseline information on the phosphorus, potassium status, pH and organic matter content coupled with tissue testing can add precision to your management decisions.

Soil testing

Soil testing is an important routine management practice and an essential tool when developing a fertilizer program that promotes good turf growth while protecting the environment.

For more information go to the Soil testing section. Keep in mind that turf will not benefit from the addition of fertilizer if there are adequate levels present in the soil and in the plant. Excess nitrogen applications will be harmful to turf growth and can have a negative environmental impact. Most New York soils have adequate levels of phosphorus so supplemental applications in most cases may not be necessary. When adequate soil levels of potassium (K) are present there is no benefit from applying more K. In fact high applications levels can inhibit root growth and excessive levels have been shown to increase the incidence of some diseases, like snow mold.