Would you like to reduce the risk of possible nitrate pollution - as well as reduce nitrogen input costs? Perhaps the carbon 'foot print' of your surface is weighing heavy on your conscience - and your groundcare budget - or perhaps you're growing weary of the constant nitrogen applications demanded by a 'hungry' turf?
If so, Soil Harmony - a division of Charterhouse Turf Machinery - may have the solution. Its N-Fusion Bio Nutrition product is specifically designed for sports and amenity turf and offers greenkeepers and groundsmen a viable and effective alternative to conventional nitrogen fertilisers. It's a product that, in effect, enables the turf to provide itself with all the nitrogen it needs.
Nitrogen is the key nutrient element for plants, supplied throughout the year to meet the demands of the plant. And nature actually provides all the nitrogen needed for plant growth in the form of hundreds of kilos of nitrogen gas in the atmosphere.
Above every hectare of sports field, golf course and garden, this gas amounts to some 74,000 tonnes. "And with our product this can be readily converted to plant food," says Soil Harmony's Philip Threadgold. "N-Fusion is the result of many years of scientific research into the utilisation of our ready available resources, and part of Soil Harmony's commitment to an all natural treatment of sportsturf".
N-Fusion promotes symbiotic nitrogen fixation - a process through which micro-organisms can supply themselves with the nitrogen that they need by 'fixing' it from the air. Atmospheric dinitrogen gas (N2) is reduced into biologically available ammonia (NH3) using an enzyme called nitrogenase.
N-Fusion is a natural and unique bio-dynamic microbial material that captures and converts nitrogen from the atmosphere into plant-available nitrogen for all turf grass.
"Unique combinations of scientifically selected root-acting rhizobacteria and endophytic bacteria living in the leaf stomata function within the plant to take nitrogen nutrients from the atmosphere," says Mr Threadgold, adding that the product also has a unique dual delivery system.
Just one small application - 20ml of rehydrated microbes per hectare - will supply between 75 and 100kg/ha of nitrogen plant food.
"This obviously reduces the cost of nitrogen applications," says Mr Threadgold. "And there are other key benefits. There's no risk of scorch and no leaching, which means no waste and no pollution. As N-Fusion is not a Nitrogen fertiliser it can be safely used where restrictions may be in place such as 'sights of scientific interest' and areas above water aquifers."
"Chemical nitrogen fertiliser deliver carcinogenic nitrates to the plant and at the same time destroy soil life microbes. It is also a highly leachable pollutant that can contaminate water courses and underground waterways," adds Mr Threadgold.
The symbiotic nitrogen fixation that results when using N-Fusion provides a non hazardous and complementary solution to 'soil life' communities.
Carbon emissions are also reduced. The production of traditional nitrate-based fertilisers is notoriously energy intensive and a recent study revealed that a typical EU-based nitrate fertiliser plant produces 2.2 tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of product produced.
The production of synthetic fertiliser uses approximately 1.2% of the world's energy and is responsible for approximately 1.2% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
Global fertiliser consumption has increased substantially since 1950 to a current level of 138 million tonnes per year. There was a fall in consumption at the beginning of the 1990s, due to the collapse of fertiliser consumption in the countries of Central Europe and the Former Soviet Union, following structural changes and economic problems. But consumption has now gone back to pre-1990 levels and continues to grow at the rate of about four million tonnes each year.
Forecast from the International Fertiliser Association suggest that the demand for fertiliser will continue to rise. Estimates of between 167 and 199 million tonnes each year by 2030 are forecast.
But groundsmen can choose not to add to the increasing demand. One small vial of N-Fusion - delivered by post, rather than on the back of a lorry that further increases the carbon foot print of chemical fertiliser - will provide 450kg of plant available nitrogen. N-Fusion comes in a small twin mix pack that, when diluted, provides enough microbes to treat five hectares.
"This is equivalent to requiring 2,500kg - almost 60 x 25-kilogram bags - of an 18% nitrogen fertiliser," says Mr Threadgold.
He stresses that the benefits of including the product in turf grass management programmes are agronomic, economic and environmental.
"Nitrogen is supplied throughout the year, to meet the demand and needs of the plant and this product seriously reduces the cost of synthetic nitrogen applications.
"It's easy to apply at a rate of 20ml per hectare of re-hydrated microbe solution, the packaging is small so there's no hassle of waste packaging disposal and delivery of the product is free. What more could groundsmen and greenkeepers ask for?"
Like most soil treatments, N-Fusion functions to a higher efficacy where solid is nutritionally balanced and levels of molybdenum, cobalt and iron - which are all essential for nitrogen fixation - are adequate.
"Because nitrogen fixation is directly related to the 'activity' of the microbes, microbe activity can be compromised in hostile conditions, such as toxic soil, poorly aerated soils and soils with a poor calcium-to-magnesium ratio.
"So we recommend a full soil analysis to highlight and deficiencies and excesses. These can then be balanced before the nitrogen fixing bacteria are applied," says Mr Threadgold.
"And physical aeration is also paramount to obtain the maximum benefits from the product and maintain a healthy soil," he adds.
A clean hydraulic boom sprayer should be used to apply the product or it can be injected into the soil with the AM Applicator system at the same time as aeration.
"The quick-detachable AM Applicator allows for the placement of N-Fusion and other Soil Harmony products during aeration, which saves time."
There are many other benefits from using N-Fusion like the fact that there is no forced growth weakening the plant and leaving it more prone to disease, and the release of locked up Phosphates, Potassium and other nutrients by the N-Fusion microbes.
Just 20ml per hectare, diluted in between 300 and 500 litres of 'natural' water, is the dose rate. It's vital to use rain or well water and to avoid tap water that contains chlorides, which act as a disinfectant and reduce the efficacy of the nitrogen fixing bacteria.
"With minimal effort and capital outlay required, I'd say it's worth giving N-Fusion a try. Ease your environmental conscience, ease your waste disposal and pollution worries, and ease the day-to-day strain of feeding nitrogen 'hungry' turf - give it the chance to feed itself," says Mr Threadgold.
"And ease the pressure on your budget by reducing the financial cost of nitrogen applications. Just think about what else you could buy instead of 60 25-kilogram bags of nitrogen fertiliser and what a difference that could make to your turf, as well as the wider environment."