CHEMICAL UPDATE: Fertilizer/Pesticide Combinations

As an expansion of our Turfgrass Chemical Updates, Grounds Maintenance publishes additional Updates throughout the year. After all, you use more than just straight herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, and you need a resource for the other products you use. This month's Update features pesticide/fertilizer combinations.

Unlike our previous updates, these tables do not cross-reference chemicals with pests controlled or other information — you can find this information in prior Updates. The lists here provide an overview of available products, including fertilizer analysis, percent active ingredient and available brands. (“Various,” under “Fertilizer analysis,” means the supplier formulates the active ingredient with numerous fertilizer analyses, or custom blends the combination.)

One big advantage of combination products is that you can fertilize and control pests with a single application. This is extremely efficient, but you must ensure that you find a product that matches your management strategy with both the fertilizer and the pesticide. Combination products require appropriate timing and rates for both the fertilizer and the chemical.

Because the rates of the fertilizer and the pesticide are linked with combination products, you sacrifice some flexibility. For example, if you decided to put the fertilizer down at a higher rate for some extra nitrogen, you would probably violate the label rate for the active ingredient. However, when timing and rates match your goals, there's no way to beat the economy of one granular application to make two treatments.

The fertilizer component of combination products varies. It may include fast- or slow-release fertilizers (usually some of both) and the analyses cover nearly the entire fertilizer spectrum. For more specific information about fertilizer characteristics, consult with the supplier.

Pre-emergence herbicides are the most numerous of the available combination products. This makes sense, because turf managers typically apply pre-emergents and fertilizers at about the same time (spring, for example) and in a similar manner (by spreader). That's why most major pre-emergents are available in combination with fertilizers.

Post-emergence herbicides also are available with fertilizers. These are the so-called “weed-and-feed” products that are perhaps more popular in the retail market. However, commercial operators often take advantage of the ease of application offered by granular formulations.

Insecticides comprise a much smaller number of combination products. However, if you're looking for grub controls, you'll find no shortage of options. Dursban, a staple product for many pest-control programs (and still available to licensed professionals until existing stocks are used up), also is available as a combination product. Finally, though relatively few in number, several valuable fungicides are available in combination with fertilizer.

When you use combination products, don't forget that you are working with pesticides, and you must follow all label instructions. This listing is not a recommendation, nor a substitute for application instructions. If you would like more information about a product, contact the supplier via the information supplied in this Update. The supplier can provide you with additional information, including labels, and help you locate a distributor near you.

Look for other Chemical Updates throughout 2003. May covers ornamental pest controls, June will feature PGRs and others will follow.

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