A tractor with rotary spreader spreading fertiliser on a sportsfield.

Fertiliser applications based on a well-planned annual programme help balance good turf performance, cost-effectiveness and reduced environmental impact.

Why it’s important

The Resource Management Act (1991) requires that fertilisers are applied in accordance with regional plans – most of which require land users to produce evidence-based annual fertiliser programmes.

But I also tend to think, that fertiliser planning just makes sense. By following a recognised process, informed by scientific data, your fertiliser programme:

  • Ensures that you apply the right amount of each nutrient at the right time of the year when the turf needs it.
  • Encourages healthy turf growth with nutrient leaching kept to a minimum.
  • Will most likely save you money, by only applying the minimum amount of the nutrients that are most appropriate for your site.

As trained professionals, Turf Managers need be able to develop their own fertiliser programmes that take into account the unique circumstances of their site.

What’s involved in creating one

Developing a fertiliser programme for turf areas generally involves the following key steps:

  1. Determining the annual nitrogen requirement for the area.
  2. Using soil test data to determine how much of the main nutrients other than nitrogen are required.
  3. Determining the rate and frequency of the nutrient applications to be made throughout the year – this is the annual nutrient plan – how much of each nutrient will be applied each month.
  4. Planning fertiliser applications – what product, when and how much will be used to apply the nutrients needed.
  5. Applying and recording fertiliser applications.

Each step must be based on technical data, to ensure the amount of nutrient applied is appropriate.

Once you’ve done this, I think you’ll find that the outcomes speak for themselves.

Should you need help developing your annual fertiliser programme, get in touch with your regional NZSTI Agronomist.