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Soil health and sustainable management practices have garnered much interest within the turfgrass industry. Among the many practices that enhance soil health and sustainability are applying soil additives to enhance soil biological activity and reducing nitrogen (N) inputs—complimentary practices. A two-year study was conducted to investigate if reduced N fertilizer rates applied with humic substances could provide comparable turfgrass quality as full N rates, and whether humic fertilizers would increase biological aspects of soil health (i.e., microbial biomass and activity). Treatments included synthetic fertilizer with black gypsum (SFBG), poly-coated humic-coated urea (PCHCU; two rates), urea + humic dispersing granules (HDG; two rates), urea, stabilized nitrogen, HDG, and a nontreated control. Reduced rates of N with humic substances maintained turfgrass quality and cover, and reduced clipping biomass compared to full N rates. There were no differences in soil physical and chemical properties besides soil sulfur (S) concentration. SFBG resulted in the highest soil S concentration. Fertilizer treatments had minimal effect on microbial biomass and other plant-available nutrients. However, PCHCU (full rate) increased potentially mineralizable carbon (PMC) and N (PMN) by 68% and 59%, respectively, compared to the nontreated control. Meanwhile SFBG and stabilized nitrogen also increased PMC and PMN by 77% and 50%, and 65% and 59%, respectively. Overall, applications of reduced N fertilizer rates with the addition of humic substances could be incorporated into a more sustainable and environmentally friendly turfgrass fertilizer program.
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Lindsey, Alex J.; Thoms, Adam W.; McDaniel, Marshall D.; and Christians, Nick E., "Evaluation of Humic Fertilizers Applied at Full and Reduced Nitrogen Rates on Kentucky Bluegrass Quality and Soil Health" (2021). Agronomy Publications. 701.