9 Plant Nutrients

Plant Nutrients do overcome stress

By Paul Benson


Stress in any living species will cause disease, fatigue and illness, it will open the door to infection, parasites and inhibit growth. It is without doubt the major factor in poor yield, performance and appearance. Stress will occur quite naturally in many forms, it hardly needs our help. During stress the plant will begin to produce Ethylene, the first stage in its demise. To prevent this we must build a healthy body, we must create a quality root system capable of coping with the handicap of trauma from whatever source it may derive.

Half a century of development and understanding of plant hormone production has resulted in the manufacture of specialised premium products facilitating healthy root growth, disease resistance and most importantly, protection against stress. This technology is used world-wide in both amenity and agriculture where continuing success is being maintained, often in extreme environments. Fruit, vegetable and even wine growers will bear testament to the understanding and product development.

This stress is often passed on to the people who manage these facilities often resulting from the frequent unrealistic demands made upon Groundsmen and Greenkeepers. Not to mention the insufficient allocation of resources coupled with over ambitious expectations.

However, the key to undoing all this stress is to having a better understanding of your plant needs and requirements.

Firstly you must recognize your objectives. What are we trying to achieve, at what level and for how long. What sport are we preparing the turf for, Football, Golf, Horseracing or Bowls, they all require different management techniques and in the main, generally have very different soil profiles. Coupled with the fact that their optimal surface performance requirements can be expected at different times of the year, being heavily influenced by the weather at the time.

The best starting point is to evaluate your particular site, recording information about your soil type and identifying the species of grass you have and what condition it is in.

Laboratory analysis of both the soil and plant tissue is essential. Ideally you need to confirm the following data.

Soil pH
Soil Particle Size Analysis (PSD) to determine soil type clay, silt or sand.?
Soil nutrient status (NPK) and trace elements content.
Organic matter content (OM)
Herbage % of cover per M2

Once you have identified these parameters you can then decide on the best form of maintenance regime, particularly in the application of plant nutrients required for your turf.

The soil nutrient results will indicate what levels of N,P and K and micro nutrients you have in your soil, enabling you to identify your future nutrient requirements.

Turf plants continually take up plant nutrients from the soil during growth. In most cases the natural soil medium cannot replenish these lost nutrients fast enough by natural weathering processes. Therefore there is a need to apply additional amounts of fertiliser products to rectify these losses.

Turf grasses have two major components, the shoot and root systems. The shoot system (green leaves above ground) are responsible for manufacturing the food supply that is used by the plant, while the root system (underground stems) are responsible for taking in water and nutrients. Grasses are often evaluated by how the shoot system looks but the root system is actually more important in maintaining healthy turf.

The root system not only provides anchorage for the plant but also is the structure that provides the necessary transport system for the plants water and nutrients requirements that are essential for promoting and sustaining plant growth.

The three major nutrients in deficit, likely to restrict plant growth are Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P) and Potassium (K) and it's for this reason they are included in fertiliser products. However, depending on the type of soil a number of other nutrients may be required, Iron, Magnesium, Boron, Sulphur and Calcium.

Nitrogen (N)

Nitrogen is the nutrient which makes plants grow, there are three forms, nitrate, ammonium and amine, all of which can be taken up by the plant, each form being utilised in a different way. A balance of all three forms are needed to keep turf and grass healthy,

Phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus is critical for the promotion of root development and the establishment of turf, so we often recommend higher levels for young turf. It is also required for the breakdown of carbohydrates and the transfer of energy.

Potassium (K)

Potassium serves to promote the formation of strong cell membranes and improve tolerance to stresses such as from cold, heat, wear, and disease

Calcium (Ca)

Calcium aids in the uptake and movement of other nutrients around the plant, and is a major constituent of cell walls. It also encourages good respiration especially in periods of high heat and humidity

It is widely recognised that calcium is a major factor in the process of alleviating plant stress. Calcium prevents the production of ethylene, which causes ageing. Calcium will also build a strong cell wall structure that gives the plant greater resistance to disease and pests. Unfortunately the plant does not easily take up most forms of calcium, including lime, chalk and gypsum.

Our products:-

After much research and trials I have now successfully developed a range of fertiliser formulations that can induce and maintain healthy plant growth in most soil conditions.

Which are now commercially available in the form of Liquid Fertilisers called Consolidate and Consolidate Plus.


In Consolidate complexed Calcium is uniquely bonded with nitrogen to maximise the uptake. Calcium is very effective against salinity by exchanging places in the soil with sodium. The calcium is then available to be taken up by the plant rather than the sodium which is toxic. The benefit of calcium in areas of high salinity such as coastal regions, becomes very apparent.

The main focus of the research and development has been to identify and address the many problems from which plants suffer. The most significant factor being Stress, caused by temperature, moisture, disease, insects and hard wear, each in turn leading to poor quality and reduced yields.

Hormone production is a major factor in determining how the plant will take up and utilise nutrients thus creating healthy growth and strong resistance to all forms of stress. Improving Nitrogen efficiency is imperative in aiding this process. Plants use different forms of Nitrogen in different ways, successful research has resulted in the development of a new generation of Nitrogen products that combat and control stress.

Consolidate is especially designed for the amenity sector, where the turf quality is most critical. Consolidate is a formulation of amine Nitrogen and complexed Calcium which builds a strong root system, tough leaves and stems, which in turn reduce the tendency to grow excessively vegetate and tall when warm and moist weather conditions prevail.

To understand how the nutrients in Consolidate work differently from other fertilisers, namely NPK, it is necessary to understand the basic science of how plants metabolise nitrogen. Nitrogen is the nutrient that makes plants grow, there are three forms, nitrate, ammonium and amine, all of which can be taken up by the plant, each form being utilised in a different way. A balance of all three forms are needed to keep turf and grass healthy, however, the most serious effect upon turf health is caused by the nitrate form.

The nitrate form is usually the most abundant form available to the plant because microbes in the soil quickly change the organic, ureic and ammonium forms into nitrate. Nitrate is readily taken up by the plant but in excess will give a false lush growth, which can create disease and slower recovery from wear and tear.

Nitrogen in the Ammonium form taken up by the plant is more readily metabolised. However, it can become toxic in excess and reduce the uptake of elements such as potassium, calcium, iron and other essential nutrients, which the plant needs for good colour and strength. In cases where Groundsmen and Greenkeepers use large amounts of ammonium and urea they are very often forced to apply large amounts of the cations such as iron, magnesium and potassium to keep the grass green.

Amine nitrogen form is very close to the protein forms of nitrogen that produce growth, hence very little energy being required to convert amine to growth. Amine nitrogen allows the plant to strengthen without excessive vegetate growth. Our specialised technology keeps nitrogen in the amine form.

Consolidate unlike standard fertilisers, contains stabilised amine nitrogen, which resists the conversion to ammonium and nitrate forms, making it easier for Greenkeepers and Groundsmen to balance the nitrogen uptake. Important cations like calcium, magnesium and iron are also added to strengthen growth, build resistance to disease and give good colour.

During cool weather Consolidate will continue working to encourage strong root growth, as the weather warms the grass will stay healthier rather than become too lush and 'soft'. In soil suffering from compaction or salinity, Consolidate will also improve aeration, water penetration and reduce salt toxicity.

Consolidate Plus

The uppermost tip of each plant contains the hormone 'auxin', which coupled with the hormone 'cytokinin' are critical components for optimum root growth. The hormone 'auxin' reaches the root system by gravity alone and is of immense importance to the root structure and to the well being of the plant. Every time the plant is trimmed 'auxin' is removed and thrown away, leaving the plant working overtime to re-create and reinstate 'auxin'. Trimming is a non-stop event, which will cause stress and prevent the turf from achieving full potential growth.

This product is at the cutting edge of plant science. A new and unique development in the health care of quality amenity surfaces. It is of special importance to the plant which is continually trimmed to facilitate a critical playing surface and being of good appearance.

Consolidate Plus contains a critical blend of plant extracts, natural polysaccharides, surfactants and organic acid chelating agents, formulated to perform the extremely important function of loss prevention and replacement of the discarded hormone.

Consolidate Plus will promote vigorous root growth and development by stimulating cell structural division, cell differentiation and enlargement. It will enhance natural and artificial nutrient uptake and utilisation. Promote the normal and natural function of the plant hormone system, greatly improving the overall health and provide the strength and ability to withstand stress.

The ability to prescribe and produce fertiliser products that can be directed to overcome particular stresses is essential when maintaining turf grass quality. The benefits from applying fertilisers at the right time and at the correct rates will certainly bring many benefits.

* Increased root growth.
* More tillering and thicker sward.
* Greater drought resistance.
* Increased disease resistance.
* Healthy green colour throughout the season.
* Quicker recovery from wear and tear.
* Greater seedling emergence.
* Improved aeration.
* Less salt toxicity.
* Greater tolerance to excessive temperature.

Application Rates

Consolidate and Consolidate Plus is compatible with many pesticides, insecticides and herbicides. Follow agrochemical instructions carefully. However, compatibility testing is always advised using the following mixing sequence:

* Water
* Consolidate
* Agrochemicals

Apply from 50 to 200 lt/ha (from 0.5 lt to 2 lt per 100m2) in sufficient water to obtain good, even coverage. For best results, foliar applications should be made early or late in the day.

Keeping your turf healthy is the prime aim of any Grounds person, the benefits of having a healthy sward are immeasurable in terms of turf quality and performance.

For further information or advice please contact us below or to purchase our products visit the Pitchcare shop

Benson Plant Nutrients
Farington Business Park
Golden Hill Lane
PR25 3UA

Tel: +44(0)1902 824392

Editorial Enquiries Editorial Enquiries

Contact Kerry Haywood

01952 897416

Customers Advertising

Contact Peter Britton

01952 898516

Subscribe Subscribe to the Pitchcare Magazine

You can have each and every copy of the Pitchcare magazine delivered direct to your door for just £30 a year.