Measuring the benefits of organo-mineral fertilizers for turfgrass

Applying fertilizers in high quality sports turf management is all about product choice, to deliver reliability and performance. There is lots of choice available and selection of the right product can be difficult without complete and clear supporting information to help decision making. Organo-mineral fertilizers combine the nutrient efficiency of a mineral fertilizer with the benefits of an organic product.

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MRes (Masters by Research) student Deniz Arslan of Bangor University, UK, has committed herself to a one-year research on the effects and benefits of organo-mineral fertilizers for turf. Deniz: “We will be looking at how efficient organo-minerals are comparing to mineral and organic versions and how they all effect soil health.”

Why organo-mineral fertilizers matter

The official title of the research project is ‘Examining organo-mineral fertilizers for crop growth; the efficiency of a mineral fertilizer with the benefits of an organic product’. Deniz: “The outcomes of this research can be important for all fields, including turf and agriculture, and will provide information to help fertilizer users make informed decisions.”

Mineral fertilizers are very commonly utilized and there is plenty of research detailing their benefits and the issues which can arise from poor product selection or over-application, for example leaching of unused nutrients from the growing zone of a crop. On the other hand, organic fertilizers offer other potential benefits, such as supporting microbes in the soil, but are often described as not performing as efficiently or productively as mineral fertilizers. Deniz: “Organo-mineral fertilizers, combining the benefits of minerals and organic sources, could be a more sustainable step for turf managers to take. I hope to prove that organo-mineral fertilizers are indeed beneficial for the soil and environment, and with no negative performance issues for turfgrass. Agricultural trials do show higher yields and performances which is promising, but of course it is different when measuring turf. You don’t necessarily want to grow more or longer grass.”

Research trials

Gronamic, the organo-mineral fertilizer brand of ICL Specialty Fertilizers, will be used in this research project. The experimental trials will include glasshouse trials of perennial ryegrass with Gronamic Sport High N (16-3-6) and Gronamic Golf High N (16-3-6), contrasting with equivalent mineral and organic fertilizers. Deniz: ““This unique research project will focus on plant growth, soil health and nutrient use efficiency factors, making use of the advanced equipment and facilities available at Bangor University.”

Academia vs. industry: collaboration with ICL  

Deniz thanks the opportunity of this Masters by Research to a scholarship names KESS (Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship) 2. The scholarship is led by Bangor University, UK, and links companies with academic expertise and universities to collaborate in research projects for PhD and Research Master qualifications. ICL supports several research collaborations and has close ties with the universities in order to help bridge the gap between industry and academia. For Deniz it means that she has a direct link to the industry and access to expert knowledge on (organo-)mineral fertilizers in high quality turf management.

About Deniz

Deniz started her MRes in January this year and expect to finish in 12 months’ time. As a socially oriented person she is interested in environment and human rights, and always wanted a career in which she could combine her interests. She has a Bachelor degree in Ecology. Deniz: “Finding solutions for conventional mineral fertilizers will be beneficial for all fields and industries, from agriculture and turf management to landscaping, and hopefully I can be part of that development. In the long term it can even impact the low-income nations and industrializing nations as well, for instance by applying it to urban green spaces and sustainable land management whilst keeping prices low as mineral resources are slowly depleting.”

Student Denis Arslan in the lab of Bangor University, UK