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How enhanced efficiency fertilizers work

February 20, 2019 -  By

Enhanced efficiency fertilizers (EEFs) are another potential tool in your lawn care arsenal. Eric Miltner, Ph.D., agronomist for Koch Turf and Ornamental, says, “With EEFs, lawn care operators (LCOs) don’t have to apply fertilizer every six weeks — but if they still want to make property visits every six weeks, they can use their time to complete other lawn care tasks other than applying fertilizer, such as spot spraying for weeds.”

Let’s take a look at how these fertilizers work and help differentiate between the available types.

Chart: LM Staff

Click to enlarge. (Chart: LM Staff)


How they work:

EEFs are products that allow increased plant uptake and reduce the potential of nutrient losses to the environment (via gaseous losses, leaching or runoff). Bob Hartman, director of sales and marketing for Knox Fertilizers, says regarding nitrogen, there are several types of EEFs, including urease and nitrification inhibitors (products that can coat a urea prill or be homogenously distributed throughout), sulfur- and polymer-coated nitrogen (coated urea prills) and slow-release nitrogen fertilizers, such as methylene urea, composts, biosolids, manures and litters.

Product use do’s:

Miltner suggests that LCOs consider how long they would like their fertilizer to last and that they examine the soil and environmental conditions and understand what is in their bag of fertilizer. With the higher cost of EEFs, Hartman recommends technicians calibrate their spreaders correctly, so they do not over- or underapply product.

Product use don’ts:

Don’t keep the same spreader calibration settings from product to product, Miltner cautions. Every product flows differently through the spreader, even though they may have the same percentages of nutrients.

Lastly, Miltner says that EEFs are beneficial even if you don’t use them for the long coverage benefits. “If you’re making frequent applications every six weeks, you don’t necessarily need a long-lasting product,” he says, “but it’s still important to use enhanced efficiency fertilizers because they get more nitrogen into the plant.”

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