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The Most Misunderstood Component

Tuesday Tree Talk with Joe Samnik

The most misunderstood component in a consulting assignment is fertilizers and fertilization. Of course, there are many other components, such as  wrongful death and personal injury assignments that inculcate differences from breach of contract or negligence in the marketplace disputes.

But the most misunderstood component of fertilizers and fertilization is especially true of landscape architects and our brethren in arboriculture, both of whom make fertilizer recommendations on a regular basis as part of their practice. One reason it is so misunderstood is lack of published knowledge and the most feared word in all of Arboriculture and Horticulture: mathematics.

You must know and apply mathematics to make fertilizer recommendations and applications

For example: A subject tree to be fertilized has 1,500 ft.² of area associated with the target zone to apply the fertilizer. You have a 10-3-15 analysis fertilizer with 75% organic nitrogen.

How much of the actual fertilizer do you apply on the 1,500 ft.² area to apply 2 pounds of nitrogen? When the 2 pounds of nitrogen are applied, how many pounds of potassium were applied by default?

the most misunderstood
The days of setting the fertilizer spreader on 5 and walking around in a circle under a tree are gone; litigation has put an end to that.

Landscape architects struggle with fertilizing and fertilizers. Their typical landscape notes are evasive and undefined. They may find comfort in the wording when their specification has been sent out to bid; however, a cross-examination of them will be quite sobering. Manufacturers of fertilizer will typically hand off the matter to published literature.

Of course, ANAI A300, Part 2 must be followed to ensure that no repercussions occur in the writing of your specificity or the result after application.

Every time I read a research article on fertilizing, the components of the research address one if not all the Rs. It’s just stated in fancy language.

The four Rs are still valid after several decades of research and research data. The title itself is somewhat sophomoric; however, it remains as true today as when the same first came into the marketplace back in the early ’60s:

  1. The right material.
  2. Applied in the right manner.
  3. At the right rate (the question above regards the rate of application).
  4. Applied at the right time of year.

The right material might include tissue and soil testing. The right manner speaks to a consistent rate of application using the correct equipment. The right rate addresses the question above in this post. And, the right time of year or season is critical to efficacy.

As far as the value of organic fertilizer is concerned, just because it came out at the end of a chicken does not make it a better product. Applying organic fertilizers is the rage, but it all must break down to a usable form regardless of what it is called.

The articles presented here do not make any legal recommendations or representations, as the author is not qualified to do so. These articles are for educational and entertainment purposes only. Seek the advice of a qualified attorney regarding questions of law.

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