REDUCE FERTILIZER USAGE AND RUNOFF WITH ZEOLITE
American’s spend close to $30 billion per year on lawn and garden products. A large amount of this annual spending is on the fertilization and aeration of lawn and gardens. Zeolite can help to reduce fertilizer application requirements on lawns and gardens by using ion exchange at the molecular level to draw in fertilizer and intelligently release it as the plant needs it. Zeolite will also help you minimize the amount of fertilizer that leaches out of your garden and yard through the soil or water runoff. Various studies have shown that excess runoff of salt from ice melt as well as these fertilizers can be harmful to the environment and can lead to toxic algal blooms and other environmental problems..
Zeolite is composed of a sponge-like framework of aluminum and silica atoms, all of which are connected by oxygen atoms. It locks water molecules and nitrogen into this framework and releases them to root systems as required.
It is estimated that zeolite reduces the amount of water required for irrigation purposes by up to 35 percent (KMI Zeolite Inc., 2013). Because of these properties, zeolite promotes the long-term health of potted plants, floral gardens, vegetable gardens, trees and shrubs, and turfgrass.
Unlike soil amendments such as lime, zeolite does not break down over time. Instead, it remains in soil to improve nutrient retention. Because of its superior absorption and adsorption properties, zeolite reduces water and fertilizer costs by retaining beneficial nutrients in the root zone (Polat et al., 2004).
The porous structure of the mineral promotes active soil that remains aerated and moist over time. Because zeolite is not acidic, its use with fertilizers can buffer soil pH levels, which reduces the need for lime applications (Polat et al., 2004). Due to these properties, zeolite is beneficial both in terms of economic and environmental factors.
Macolino and Zanin (2014) conducted a field study to evaluate the effectiveness of zeolite-containing fertilizer in reducing nutrient leaching in sodded turfgrass. The researchers sodded eighteen plots on a USGA sandy substrate amended with 20 percent peat. Then, a fertilizer containing zeolite was tested against a variety of conventional fertilizers containing equivalent nutrient contents.
Each week, turfgrass color was evaluated by visual ratings and vertical growth rate was measured prior to mowing (Macolino & Zanin, 2014). Also, rates of nutrient leaching were measured through an analysis of substrate solutions collected at a depth of 40 cm. Results indicated that turf growth and color were positively affected by the fertilization rate. Also, potassium and nitrate levels in soil were positively affected by the use of zeolite-containing fertilizer.
Ferguson et al. (1986) found that clinoptilolite zeolite is capable of adsorbing ammonium, thus increasing plant fertilizer nitrogen use efficiency. The study focused on the growth and quality of turfgrass in relation to ranges of zeolite amendment on sand and nitrogen application rates of 25, 50, or 75 kg ha (Ferguson et al., 1986). Results indicated that germination and establishment were significantly increased by amending sand with 5 – 10 percent zeolite. Also, zeolite applications increased clipping yields collected from seven harvests as well as rates of nitrogen use efficiency (Ferguson et al., 1986). Finally, data suggested that zeolite increased root growth as indicated by soil organic carbon and shoot-clipping content. At the conclusion of the study, researchers determined that zeolite has potential as a new medium for the growth of turfgrass (Ferguson et al., 1986).