Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Agrium Advanced Technologies Turf and Ornamental Technologies products.
(1) Why is Nitrogen important?
Nitrogen is a vital part of every plant cell. Turfgrasses use Nitrogen in larger quantities than any other chemical element except for Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen, which are supplied by air and water. Plants can obtain Nitrogen from organic matter already present in the soil through decomposition. However, soils don't contain enough sufficient amounts of Nitrogen to sustain turfgrass needs. Therefore, fertilizers are applied to provide the necessary amounts for green, healthy turf.
(2) What are Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEFs)?
The Association of American Plan Food Control Officials (AAPFCO) defines EEFs as fertilizers that increase nutrient availability / uptake and decrease losses to the environment compared with the appropriate reference fertilizer. EEFs are not new, various products have been used in the horticulture industry for decades; urea-formaldehyde was patented in 1924 and produced commercially in 1955; Osmocote was introduced in the US in 1967 and; Sulfur-coated urea first became available in 1972.
AAPFCO defines two broad classes of EEFs; Slow-and Controlled-Release fertilizers such as XCU, POLYON and DURATION, manufactured by Agrium Advanced Technologies, and; Inhibitors / Stabilized Nitrogen fertilizers such as Umaxx and Uflexx, manufactured by Agrotain International, and NUTRISPHERE-N, manufactured by Specialty Fertilizer Products (SFP). The Inhibitor / Stabilized Nitrogen family of fertilizers are not defined by AAPFCO as Slow-or Controlled-Release.
(3) What is the different between traditional fertilizers and Slow-and Controlled-Release fertilizers?
Most traditional fertilizers are the common, soluble products that release nutrients quickly. They typically dump out Nitrogen after a good watering and then they are not available to the plant. So if that's what you're using, you'll have to make several more applications to keep that landscape green and healthy. On the other hand, slow- and controlled-release fertilizers deliver nutrients to the soil gradually and consistently to feed the plant over a longer period of time. So if you're using a slow- or controlled-release fertilizer, you'll make fewer applications to keep the turf green and healthy. Plus, research shows that certain slow- and controlled-release fertilizers allow you to apply less Nitrogen per year due to the extra efficiency of the consistent release and plant uptake.
(4) How do Slow- and Controlled-Release Fertilizers work?
Slow- and controlled-release fertilizers are granules or particles of single or multiple macro-nutrients that may be encapsulated within a special coating or specifically formulated to depend on soil micro-organisms for release. Because of these unique fertilizer technologies, Nitrogen is gradually released to meet the turfgrass' demands. That provides a steady supply of nutrients into the soil over many weeks or months, with minimized chance of Nitrogen loss. Since slow- and controlled-release fertilizers deliver nutrients when the plant needs them, you reduce the risk of losing valuable nutrients, therefore reducing environmental impact. These technologies allow you to use less total nutrients per year and helps ensure you don't waste unnecessary money on fertilizer.
(5) How do Slow- and Controlled-Release Fertilizers protect the environment?
In addition to not lasting very long - and causing you extra work - ordinary fast-release fertilizers are often very inefficient. When Nitrogen is delivered too quickly, the plants' roots can't take it all in, so those leftover nutrients have to go somewhere else. That means fertilizer is subject to loss by leaching through the soil or volatilizing (escaping into the atmosphere), which is not good for the environment. A nutrient that leaves its intended application site becomes a pollutant. It's also a painful waste of money for that unused fertilizer to just go away without helping the turf or landscape.
Leaching generally receives the most attention. A nutrient leaches when it moves beyond the grass root system and is no longer available for plant absorption. Through leaching and surface runoff, Nitrate-Nitrogen and Phosphorus can contaminate ground water and create health hazards. Nitrate and Phosphorus in water bodies or wetlands can lead to algae "bloom" and other plant growth that deplete Oxygen in the water and reduce its ability to support life.
Increased concerns about fertilizer runoff and resulting risks of water contamination are prompting government officials to pay closer attention to the landscape industry. Many local and federal regulatory agencies (such as the Department of Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), municipal water companies, etc.) are considering new restrictions on fertilizer applications.
By using dependable slow- and controlled-release fertilizers, you effectively deliver more nutrients to the intended plants while reducing nutrient losses. This can mean big savings in your fertilizer budget and increased profits. Better yet, fertilizers that pose less risk of runoff and pollution will give you a big selling differentiation with customers who appreciate those environmental advantages.
(6) Where can I buy AAT fertilizer technologies?
See our Find a Distributor/Supplier maps under the Resources link