Using the right turf fertilizer technology is crucial to getting the best results from your lawn fertilizer. 

As sports turf consultants and turf agronomists, we believe that turf nutrition is the cornerstone of turf management. This principle applies whether you use a sports turf fertilizer or lawn fertilizer.

The choice of lawn and turf fertilizer technology available, has made turf nutrition easier than ever before. However, this has also made it complicated to choose the right turf fertilizer.

Just like the human body, if you eat poorly, you will become unhealthy, more prone to disease and not perform at your best. This principle applies to a lawn, golf course or in a heavily used stadium. 

There are other less obvious benefits of getting your turf nutrition right:

  • Less disease means significant chemical savings. It is cheaper to get your turf nutrition right by using the right lawn fertilizer than by spraying a fungicide. 
  • Applying a turf fertilizer is a lot safer than spraying turf chemicals.
  • Correct nutrition means your turf uses water more efficiently due to a deeper root network.
  • Your lawn and turf look better.

As turf and lawn fertilizer suppliers, we have a wide range of fertilizer technology. This ranges from mini prill lawn fertilizers ideal for use on golf greens to fairway and sports turf fertilizer.

The following explains how nitrogen turf fertilizer works, and where it is best to use them.

Magnesium turf fertilizers.

How to choose a good fertilizer.

What are Slow release fertilizers and What are your options?


Quick-Release Sports Turf Fertilizer

Straight NPK’s:

‘Straight’ lawn and turf fertilizers are the low-cost options. These turf fertilizers tend to have a high salt index (burn potential) and can damage turf if not immediately watered in. They also cause growth surges, which means you mow more often.

Water solubles:

These are higher quality than ‘straights’. They are on the expensive side and are also prone to hardening or “caking”. 

To overcome this, manufacturers use anti-caking agents that can be abrasive to spray equipment.

However, an advantage of the water solubles is that they allow “spoon-feeding” of turf. Spoon feeding means you apply a little and often so turfgrass is fed what it needs and when it needs it. 

Bearing this in mind, some manufacturers incorporate a low percentage of surfactant to increase the leaf uptake of any foliar turf or lawn fertilizer.


Enhanced Efficiency sports turf fertiliser (EEFs).

EEF‘s limit nutrient losses and so improve nutrient use efficiency. You can divide this fertiliser technology into two groups: Synthetic slow-release turf and lawn fertilisers and nitrification and urease inhibitors.

Slow-release sports turf fertiliser.

IBDU and urea-formaldehyde turf fertilisers come under this heading. For more information check out this book.  

Turf fertilizer. Factors influencing release.
 IBDU. Particle size, soil moisture, and temperature all play a role. For example, release is 2–3 times faster at 27°C compared to at 10°C.
Ureaformaldehyde and Methylene urea. The release rate is 10–12 times faster at 27°C compared to at 10°C. Also large particle size and low soil pH have less of an effect compared to IBDU
Sulphur-coated urea/Polymer sulphur-coated urea. Coating thickness, coating quality, and temperature all play a role.


Table showing commonly used Enhanced Efficiency sports turf fertilizer (EEFs).





Percent slow release.

Salt Index.

Mode of action.


Entec® N.




Inhibited nitrogen
with DMPP.


Alzon Neo N.




Inhibited nitrogen and urease inhibitor.


Green Urea




Urease Inhibitor NBPT


Uflexx and Umaxx




Nitrification inhibitor DCD plus urease inhibitir NBPT

PCSCU (various


100% polymer sulphur
coated N.

Osmosis and


Poly S


100% polymer sulphur coated urea

Osmosis and temperature

X Cote


100% polymer sulphur coated urea

Osmosis and temperature



100% polymer sulphur coated urea

Osmosis and temperature

(various brands).


66% water

Soil microbial
activity and




Soil microbial
activity and




90% slow
release insoluble




Liquid triazone
(various brands).


21% urea; 79%
methylene urea.

Soil microbial
activity and

up to 6



50% urea and 50% methylene ureas.


Soil microbial
activity and

up to 6


Liquid sports turf and lawn fertilizer gives an instant growth and colour response. This happens because with this fertilizer technology nutrients are immediately available, and taken up through the roots or leaves. Use liquid turf fertilizer:

  • When turf is not growing at its maximum level, such as in the middle of summer, is when liquid foliar turf fertilizer applications are really efficient. 
  • Before warm-season turf dormancy and lastly
  • If you want to avoid mower pick up of turf fertilizer on closely mown turf.

The main drawback of liquid turf and lawn fertilizers is that they mostly do not have any longevity. There are, however, some slow-release liquid turf fertilizers now on the market.

We believe in getting the best of both worlds by using both liquid turf fertilizers and granular products. The results gained in combination are better than relying on one approach alone.

Slow-release Liquid sports turf fertiliser.

Liquid slow-release fertilizer technology available is available under several trade names like Fertech®, Sirflor®, and Nitrosert®. This fertilizer technology has the following characteristics when used as a lawn fertilizer or a turf fertiliser:

  • Firstly, longevities of up to six to eight weeks;
  • Secondly, low burn potential;
  • Thirdly, a high tank degree of tank mix compatibility.
  • Only the nitrogen is slow release. 

You can apply slow-release liquid nitrogen as a spray application onto turfgrass and as the nitrogen source in mixed NPK liquid turf fertilizers.


Poultry manure and organic fertilizer from bio-waste, are a low-cost alternative fertilizer technology to synthetic sports turf fertiliser. However, organic turf fertilizer can have issues with odour and weed seed content.

The salt index of organic fertilizer can also be an issue. The high salt index is due to bulking up broiler chickens with salt. As broiler chickens grow, they are fed a high-salt diet. The broiler chickens then drink more water and put on weight faster. The result is they get to market faster. This salt then passes into their droppings.

No matter what the marketing says, if there are claims about only using free-range manure in their organic fertilizer these are highly debatable. I mean in all seriousness Iis there enough free-range poultry manure in Australia to meet the demand for these fertilizers?

Another major problem with organic fertilizer is that it has a highly variable analysis. You can’t produce a consistent fertilizer analysis if you only use manure.

Organic fertilizer has a low nitrogen content, and this is below 3-5%. Organic fertilizer almost always contains phosphorus.

The final point about this fertilizer technology is that anyone who uses poultry manure fertilisers to do the right thing for the environment actually isnt!

Poultry manure based fertilizers are a massive contributor to global warming due to carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions.





Why fertilize turf?

The main reason to fertilize turf is so that it can grow properly. Fertilizing is like eating a meal. If we don’t eat the right things regularly and in the right amounts then we will get sick or not grow properly.

The aim of anyone growing turf is to provide a healthy, stress-tolerant surface that can withstand a high level of wear. The key to achieving this is selecting the correct fertilizer. This has a major influence on turf health. Too much nitrogen and the turf can become extremely prone to disease and have a low tolerance to wear. Too little nitrogen and recovery and growth are limited.

All the major nutrients (N, P, K) and secondary (S, Ca, Mg) are required in larger amounts than the traces (B, Cu, Zn, Fe, Mn) but all of important roles to play in the growth of the turf plant.


What do the letters and numbers on a fertilizer bag mean?

Every fertilizer bag should have the nutrient analysis marked as N, P, K, S, Mg, Ca, and whatever trace elements are present. These are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, magnesium and calcium respectively.

In Australia, we use the elemental labelling system for nutrient analysis. In Europe and the USA, they use the oxide analysis. This can lead to some confusion. The nitrogen figure is the same with both systems but P, K, etc. are different.

Using potassium nitrate as an example, this is labelled as 13-0-36 in Australia and 13-0-43 in the USA, even though it’s the same product. 

Consequently, to go from:

  • Elemental K to the oxide form divide by 0.83 (or multiply by the inverse, 1.2).
  • To go from elemental P to the oxide form, simply divide by 0.44 (or multiply by the inverse, 2.27).
  • Similarly, to go from Ca to CaO, divide by 0.715 (or multiply by 1.39), and
  • Finally, to go from Mg to MgO, divide by 0.602 (or multiply by 1.66).


When is the best time to fertilize turf?

Generally, the best time for lawn fertilization is in the spring when the soil temperature reaches 10ºC. At this temperature things are just beginning to grow, so the turf needs feeding. Feeding at this time will get the turf growing nicely heading into the summer.

Autumn feeding of warm-season turf increases turf density. It encourages new tillers, rhizomes, stolons, and more shoot growth. If you overseed, it will also help promote the growth of the young seed and consequently promote the production of carbohydrates. This helps turf survive winter stresses and encourages spring growth.

On golf course greens, regular light feeding throughout the year can have benefits in helping to counter disease and encourage recovery.

How often should you carry out soil testing?

Soil testing identifies nutrient deficiencies, predicts nutrient needs, and identifies toxicity issues. You can take soil samples any time of the year but not within two weeks of applying a fertilizer.

The frequency can be every two or three years.

On sand or new sports turf constructions, the low CEC means that initially, we recommend testing every year.

Whats a quality fertilizer?

A quality fertilizer flows freely, isn’t wet and contains what it says on the bag.

With granular fertilizers, excessive dust, a lack of particle uniformity, being damp, and smearing inside the fertilizer hopper are all good indicators of poor quality or incompatible ingredients used in its manufacture.

Likewise, with liquids, any residue at the bottom of the drum and filter blockages indicate issues.