We have two different types of spreaders here. We have a rotary spreader and a drop spreader. There’s not a benefit to using one or the other. With a rotary spreader, we can cover a lot more ground in a shorter amount of time because we have a wider area of spread. The drop spreader, we can control where the fertilizer goes a little bit more precisely. So, it’s great for working in areas next to the street or areas where we’ve got surface waters, ponds, and streams. We can get fertilizer down without worrying about getting fertilizer into those ponds, streams, or out into the street.
With both spreaders, the amount of product that you put down depends on how fast you walk. If you have a very long stride and walk very fast, you won’t put as much material down. Or, if you’re a person that walks slower, you won’t cover as much ground in the same amount of time.
So, each spreader needs to be calibrated for each person operating the spreader. One of the biggest problems I see with drop spreaders is most people think that the fertilizer falls out between the wheels. So, when they fertilize their lawn, they’ll drive down in one direction, and then bring the fertilizer spreader back up on the opposite wheel track. When in reality, the fertilizer falls out from between here and here. So, there’s a gap of two or three inches on each side where no fertilizer falls out. So when you’re fertilizing your yard, you need to overlap your wheel tracks to make sure you have a uniform coverage across the yard.
A rotary spreader flings out its material from side to side. So, when we’re applying this fertilizer, we need to be looking at where the fertilizer is flying on one side or the other and try to gauge it so that where that material lands is not quite half way to our other wheel track on the other side. So you can see that we’re evenly putting half of it here, and then our other pass over there is putting half the material back down.
With that need to see where the fertilizer is being applied with a rotary type spreader, and even with a drop spreader, it makes it beneficial to apply our fertilizers early in the morning when we have some dew on the grass so we can see where our wheel tracks and where our footprints are in the yard.
This feature story prepared with Rodney St.John, Kansas State University Research and Extension, Turfgrass. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.