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Nitrogen Leaching Solutions for Turf in Western Australia during Winter


Baileys Fertiliser


27 July 2023

Nitrogen leaching is a common problem in turf in Western Australia, especially during the winter months. This is because the cooler temperatures and wet weather conditions can lead to an increase in water movement through the soil, carrying nitrogen with it.

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for turf growth, but excessive leaching can lead to nutrient deficiencies, weakened plants, and reduced overall turf quality. In this article, we will explore the effects of nitrogen leaching, common symptoms to watch out for, methods of diagnosis, and recommend product solutions to combat this issue and keep your turf thriving throughout the winter season.

Effects of Nitrogen Leaching:

Nitrogen leaching occurs when excessive rainfall or overwatering causes the nitrogen to move beyond the root zone of the turf, leading to nutrient loss. This process can be exacerbated due to the sandy soils found in Western Australia, as they have a lower ability to retain nutrients.

As a result, turf can experience various negative effects, including:

  • Nutrient Deficiency: Nitrogen deficiency symptoms typically include pale green or yellowing turf, stunted growth, and reduced density.

  • Weak Plant Structure: Insufficient nitrogen availability weakens the plant structure, making the turf more susceptible to diseases, pests, and environmental stressors. Weaker plants are also less capable of recovering from winter damage.

  • Poor Aesthetic Appearance: Nitrogen-deficient turf often appears thin, sparse, and lacks the lush, vibrant green colour that is desired. The overall aesthetic appeal of the turf can be compromised, particularly in high-visibility areas.

Diagnosing Nitrogen Leaching:

To determine if nitrogen leaching is affecting your turf during winter, careful observation and analysis are required. Here are some methods for diagnosing nitrogen leaching:

  • Visual Inspection: Look for symptoms of nitrogen deficiency, such as yellowing or pale green turf, slow growth, and reduced density. Pay attention to areas with poor drainage or those that receive excessive rainfall.
  • Soil Testing: Conduct a soil test to assess the nutrient levels, including nitrogen. Soil tests provide valuable information about the soil's nutrient content, pH level, and overall health. Find out more about Baileys Soil testing here. 

Product Solutions to Combat Nitrogen Leaching:

Fortunately, there are several product solutions available to help mitigate nitrogen leaching and support healthy turf growth during winter:

  • Slow-Release Nitrogen Fertilisers: Use slow-release nitrogen fertilisers to provide a controlled release of nutrients over an extended period. These fertilisers are designed to minimise leaching, ensuring a steady supply of nitrogen to the turfgrass while reducing the risk of nutrient loss. Baileys Sure Green Active (19%N, 2.2%P, 15%K, 4.1%S, 1.2%Mg, 0.3%Fe, 0.16%Mn, 0.02%Cu, 0.04%Zn) contains 75% slow release for optimal nutrient release over 3 months.

  • Soil Amendments: Consider using soil amendments like Baileys Granular Gypsum to improve soil structure and increase its cation exchange capacity. Enhanced soil structure promotes better nutrient retention and reduces leaching. 

  • Liquid fertilisers: Using liquid fertilisers is the best way to get nutrients into the Turf during this time of year. This is because the cooler temperatures and wet weather conditions can make it difficult for granular fertilizers to be absorbed by the roots. Applied directly to the leaves, liquid fertilisers are quickly absorbed allowing the turf to get the nutrients it needs even when the soil is cold and wet. Baileys GT Green  (16%N, 5%S, 5%Fe, 3%Mn) is a high Nitrogen liquid fertiliser, that is also features high Iron that encourages deep green colour. 

For more information about developing a nutrient program to mitigate nitrogen leaching contact your local Baileys Sales Representative to find out more on 9439 1688  or info@baileysfertliser.com.au     

Image highlighting the effects of Nitrogen leaching in Turf (Left) and liquid fertiliser application (Right)