With dominion over the land comes great responsibility. As humans, we derive sustenance from the Earth. To sustain that nourishment, we must never forget to give back to the land that gives us so much. That’s why we, here at BGI, would like to remind all our communities to #feedyourfood.
However, we would caution all green-thumbed home gardeners out there that all fertilizers aren’t made equal. What’s more, we would draw your attention to the Four R’s of Fertilizer Management:
The (R)ight Type
This refers to selecting the correct delivery mechanism for nutrients. Commonly asked questions include:
- Is a liquid form better to use than a dry form?
- When should I use a controlled-release fertilizer?
- When should the salt index of the fertilizer be considered?
- Is organic really the way to go?
For most people, the right type of fertilizer comes down to two determining factors—ease of use and cost per unit. One may prefer manure because of a preference toward repurposing organic waste, access, or because of its increase water-retention and dense nutrient supply for the soil.
Efficiency may also be considered in selecting a nutrient source. For instance, our signature Tomatogain contains controlled-release nitrogen, designed to deliver small amounts of the nitrogen throughout the growing season.
At the (R)ight Rate
The primary concept of employing the right rate approach is soil testing. This concept is the basis for understanding how to apply the proper amount of fertilizer for your plants. One should always consult a solid research base for analyzing the results of their soil test. This determination will guide any gardener with the following information:
- The proper amount of fertilizer to use in the pre-plant phase.
- How much add to a watering mixture.
The amount at any given time may vary depending on the type of nutrient involved. BGI’s fertilizers are tested by time and in a laboratory and come with suggested application rates for various planting situations from large-scale gardens to in-home potting operations. (Consult our website for more information.)
At the (R)ight Time
The right timing of nutrients is relative to the growth pattern of your plants, and changes in nutrient demand dependent on the season. As a general rule, plant development begins slowly through the germination phase and increases through fruiting, only to slow again at maturation. This growth pattern is referred to as sigmoidal growth.
Anticipating these changes in nutrient demand is essential to know precisely how much fertilizer to apply at any given time throughout maturation. The controlled-release nitrogen in our fertilizers is engineered to capitalize a plants natural growth-cycle and maximize yield potential. Finding the right timing of application is also dependent upon finding the right rate and the right placement.
In the (R)ight Placement
To achieve maximum efficiency of nutrients, they must be applied where the plant has the best access to them. In most cases, the right placement is in what’s known as the “root zone,” or just outside the radius of the advancing root system, encouraging growth. There two different approaches to this application.
- Banding– fertilizer is placed in concentrated “bands” in the soil surrounding a developing plant.
- Broadcasting– fertilizer is spread uniformly over the surface of the soil. Typically, most effective later in the growing process.
Placement and timing are perhaps the most closely related of all the Four R’s as they both determined by the growth cycle of the plant.
The Importance of Integrating All Four R’s
While the Four R’s have been differentiated as individual components of fertilizer management, practicing one without the others is like a song without a melody. For your garden to be truly harmonious, we encourage you to practice diligence in the application of four components.
And, as always, we’re here to educate and to help with all your fertilizer needs.