EXTENSION CONNECTION: The 4 R's of fertilizer application

Published: Sunday, June 15, 2014 at 02:58 PM.

Best Management Practices have been developed so individuals can make fertilizer selection decisions that reduce the risk of water contamination.

When you get soil test results from the University of Florida Lab, remember the "4 Rs" when applying fertilizer.

Right source. A BMP-compliant fertilizer contains a portion of slow-release (water insoluble) nitrogen with little to no phosphorus, and a potassium level similar to the nitrogen percentage (e.g. 15-0-15, that contains 5 percent coated nitrogen).

A soil test is the only way to accurately identify specific nutrients your landscape lacks. Many soil tests indicate a need for phosphate and, currently, it is illegal to apply more than 0.25 pounds per 1,000 square feet without a soil test verifying the need.

Applied at the right rate. Know the square footage of your property and how much fertilizer you can spread using your equipment's settings. Individuals walk at varied speeds and the product-recommended rates are based on 1,000-square-foot areas.

Using 15-0-15 fertilizer, the right rate for one application would be 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet. That 35-pound bag is all that is needed for a nearly 12,000-square-foot yard (a large corner lot).

Learn more about calibrating application equipment.

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