The Science Behind Holganix: Smell Ammonia? Do not spray!

Behind the Science of Holganix:

Smell Ammonia? Do not spray!

lawn care, ammonia

*Urea + temperatures above 85⁰ may cause ammonization of spray solution*

This is a problem for anyone using urea-based fertilizers and is completely independent of Holganix use


Symptoms of problem

  • High pH levels can bleach grass, leaving lawns a temporary yellowish or white color that can last until the grass pushes it out. 
  • Mixed fertilizer product smells of ammonia. 
  • pH level of mixed product is higher than 8. 
  • Users of urea must use care when temperatures exceed 85⁰.


Recent observations:

With temperatures heating up, lawn care applicators must be careful when using liquid fertilizer. A strong Ammonia smell emitting from the liquid fertilizer is an indicator that something is wrong and that the product should not be applied to turf or plants until the cause of the odor is resolved. Holganix has noticed that some users mixing urea with Holganix aren’t utilizing the full batch within a 12-hour period. When temperatures are above 85⁰ the urea can start to ammoniate, causing a rise in pH to unacceptable levels that may bleach a lawn. For best practice, mix and use urea daily.

Please note that aerating a mix of urea/Holganix product does not extend the shelf life of urea (only Holganix) beyond the allotted 12-hour period. Aeration works on Holganix and water alone; it doesn’t extend the shelf life of mixed urea. Once Holganix is removed from its cold state and mixed with water, it must remain properly aerated to maintain its bio-activity (refer to directions). Once urea is mixed with Holganix simple aeration will no longer protect the shelf life of the urea. This is especially true when temperatures exceed 85⁰.


 Best Practices:

  • When temperatures are high, mix your urea and use it daily; no overnight storage of urea mixture. 
  • If you do store the urea mixture overnight, before spraying, smell it from 12" away from the opening. 
  • If you get a strong ammonia smell, do not spray.
  • This is a characteristic of urea independent of Holganix.
  • For the hot summer months reduce or completely eliminate your urea usage to avoid potential problems.
  • We can help rectify the situation if you give Holganix or your local distributor a call for assistance. There are products that may restore your mixed batch pH balance.

Urea (46-0-0 and other urea products) have the potential in hot weather to ammoniate which causes high pH in the spray mixture and could damage the grass. Mixing the spray tanks in the morning and spraying them out completely every day should eliminate this from occurring. Leaving the tank lids off overnight and recirculating the spray hose back into the tank in the morning are good practices. However, in hot weather, particularly if the product is left in the tank overnight, if the spray technician smells ammonia this should be addressed. The pH should be tested and if it is above 8, action needs to be taken. Adding a pH reducer -citric acid can rectify the problem. If the tank needs to be refilled or topped off, correct the high pH batch before filling up the tank.  Another solution is to switch from the 46-0-0 urea to Methylene urea. Methylene urea is much more stable than 46-0-0 but can still ammoniate so please continue practicing precautionary measures.  

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Posted by Nicole Wise on Jul 17, 2013 3:15:00 PM

Nicole Wise

Topics: lawn care, sports turf, golf course, agriculture

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