The two mineral elements used in the largest amount by turfgrass plants are nitrogen and potassium. In seeing what some premixed fertilizers sell for, compared to the actual cost of nitrogen and potassium if one were to mix one's own fertilizer, it never fails to surprise me to see some turf managers struggle to get funds for necessary equipment or other products, when so much money could be saved by a switch in what fertilizers are used.
If money is not an issue, then you don't need to read any further. But if you would like to see how to get this quality of green, without wasting a penny on fertilizer expense, then you will want to read on. Or, as you'll see below, if you are spending more than $1,000 per year to fertilize greens, this information may be of interest.
All the turfgrass surfaces pictured in this post were produced by using the most basic forms of fertilizer nitrogen and potassium – urea, ammonium sulfate, potassium sulfate, potassium chloride – as the primary sources of those elements.
This works for creeping bentgrass, it works for ultradwarf bermudagrass, and it works for seashore paspalum.
To estimate the cost, I've checked current fertilizer prices in Canada, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Then, I've used the growth potential model, as described here, to estimate the monthly nitrogen requirement for different grass species in different locations, based on local weather data. Adding together the monthly nitrogen use of the grass gives us an annual total.
We will apply potassium at half the nitrogen rate in our hypothetical situation here to ensure the plant has enough potassium, but in many cases (this can be determined by a soil test), potassium in the soil is already sufficient to meet all the needs of the grass.
So how much does this all cost? Let's assume the putting green surface area at each of these locations is 10,000 square meters - 1 hectare. Using current prices and exchange rates for Canada, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam, we can supply the total annual nitrogen and potassium for 1 hectare for:
Canada, bentgrass, CAD $630, or USD $644
Japan, bentgrass, ¥81,119, or USD $1,036
Thailand, bermudagrass, ฿23,302, or USD $754
Vietnam, seashore paspalum, VND 17,058,800, or USD $826
For annual fertilizer costs to supply all the nitrogen and potassium needed by the grass, we go from a minimum of $644 at Canada to a maximum of $1,036 at Japan. That is the approximate range of cost for fertilizer. But just because we pay a low price for fertilizer, it does not mean that the turf conditions suffer. Not at all.
Nitrogen is nitrogen, and potassium is potassium, and if you are wanting to save money in your turfgrass maintenance, and if you are spending more than $1,000 per hectare per year on the most highly-maintained turf that you have, you might look at the use of urea, and ammonium sulfate, and potassium sulfate, and even potassium chloride as a way to produce the same or better quality turf, while saving funds for another use.
For more information about turfgrass nutrient requirements and fertilizer requirements and cost, see:
Turfgrass Nitrogen Requirement and Growth Potential
How to Save 60% or More in Turfgrass Fertilizer Cost
Understanding Turfgrass Nutrient Requirements