OCEANGRO® is a 5-5-0 "Exceptional Quality" Class A granular biosolid fertilizer produced by The Ocean County Utilities Authority in Bayville, New Jersey. OCEANGRO® is named from the fact that it is produced in Ocean County, New Jersey.
Biosolids are sewage wastewater solids that are processed into a beneficial fertilizer product. "Exceptional Quality" Class A biosolids are found by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to "pose no reasonable risk to the environment or human health". The designation and parameters of being an "Exceptional Quality" Class A biosolid fertilizer is set by the USEPA and can be found in the United States Code of Federal Regulations Title 40 Part 503. Class A Exceptional Quality biosolids are sold and used just as any fertilizer on the market.
Milorganite® and OCEANGRO® are both Exceptional Quality class A granular biosolids. Milorganite® is a 6-2-0 fertilizer produced in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District. OCEANGRO® is a 5-5-0 fertilizer produced in Bayville, New Jersey, by the Ocean County Utilities Authority.
Heavy metals are found in nearly all fertilizers - both organic and synthetic. Heavy metals are naturally found in soils and detectable levels are found in drinking water. Many heavy metals such as copper and zinc are necessary for human health (check the label on your vitamin bottle) and are necessary micronutrients for plant health. Other heavy metals, such as lead, are dangerous and are unnecessary to human or plant health. Just as heavy metal limits are set at what is considered safe for drinking water, limits are also set for what is considered safe for biosolid fertilizer use. The USEPA and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) set threshold limits for acceptable levels of heavy metals in biosolids. OCEANGRO® is tested monthly for heavy metals and is consistently within limits set by the USEPA and NJDEP.
Heavy metals come from both domestic and industrial waste sources. Trace amounts of copper and lead are leached from soldered copper piping from older homes. This same copper and lead are part of the drinking water people consume. Heavy metals also come from industrial waste sources. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to extract heavy metals from wastewater, it is more cost effective and practical to limit the amount and type of heavy metals from entering the waste stream to begin with. Years ago, heavy metals from businesses such as metal plating and photographic film processing were disposed in wastewater, now they are collected and recycled. The Ocean County Utilities Authority has strict rules for industrial customers who send us wastewater. Very stringent pretreatment programs are in place, which limit the quantities of contaminants entering our process. We will not allow any customer of The Authority to jeopardize the quality of OCEANGRO®.
OCEANGRO® is what it is. The Ocean County Utilities Authority only accelerates and separates what would be a natural breakdown of wastewater. With 5-5-0 OCEANGRO®, we do not add nutrients and we cannot take them out. The system collects wastewater, stabilizes the mix through biological breakdown then separates the water from the solids. The solids are then sent to the fertilizer plant for heat-treating to be turned into a granular product. The fertilizer is then marketed to golf courses and garden centers for ornamental plant use. Phosphorus cannot be extracted from OCEANGRO® but nitrogen and potassium can be added to an OCEANGRO® blend to lower the phosphorus ratio. While OCEANGRO® will grow turf and ornamentals quite nicely on its own, OCEANGRO® makes a beautiful fertilizer base for a blended fertilizer product.
OCEANGRO® is neutral with a consistent reading of 7 on fertilizer testing analysis.
The organic matter of OCEANGRO® is about 65%. If you have a poor soil condition requiring organic matter replenishment, keep in mind that OCEANGRO® is an organic nitrogen-based fertilizer. The amount of OCEANGRO® you would apply to amend a poor soil would far exceed the nutrient requirements of any plants being grown. A better solution for organic soil enhancement is to use composted wood chips or leaf mulch. A ready source of such materials can be found at municipal or county recycling centers. OCEANGRO® when mixed with composted wood chips or leaf mulch and incorporated into the soil will give you a permanent solution to a poor soil condition and is less costly than trucking in topsoil. Do not buy topsoil make your own.
OCEANGRO® is an organic nitrogen-based fertilizer and, like all organic fertilizers, can present an odor concern. In heavily used public areas where odors may be an issue, following best management practices and common sense will minimize or eliminate complaints. The time of year and rate OCEANGRO® is used is an important consideration when planning an organic fertilizer application.
Some customers have told us OCEANGRO® will repel deer but it has never been tested and it is not a labeled use.
Many golf course turf managers apply OCEANGRO® as a dormant fertilizer so that the winter freeze/ thaw cycle works the material into the soil profile. Applying OCEANGRO® during an aerification will work the fertilizer closer to the root zone where it can do the most good. Some people split an OCEANGRO® application between spring and late fall. Still others will make a light application in the summer months because OCEANGRO® will not burn turf and does not have to be watered in. In high public use turf areas, summer month applications are not suggested because of potential odor issues.
OCEANGRO® fertilizer has a salt index of 1.24. A fertilizer salt index is a measure of a fertilizer's ability to burn. It is not a percentage of how much salt is in a fertilizer. Potassium chloride has an index of over 100. Urea has a salt index of 75. If you use OCEANGRO® according to label rates, there is a very low burn potential. Because of the low salt, OCEANGRO® will encourage beneficial soil microbial activity.
4.5% of the 5% nitrogen in OCEANGRO® is water insoluble which means that soil microbes break down most of OCEANGRO® to make it available for plant uptake. When used on turf, OCEANGRO® works best in the thatch layer or under the soil where microbial activity takes place. In thin turf areas, OCEANGRO® will work best if lightly top-dressed or worked into the soil via aeration, vertical mowing or slit seeding. Only a small percentage of OCEANGRO® will break down by water and sunlight. For this reason, OCEANGRO® is environmentally friendly because there is less chance for the fertilizer to leach into groundwater sources.
Because bunker sands are generally dry and sterile, it will take awhile for OCEANGRO® to break down (fewer microbes working for you). OCEANGRO® is also black to dark gray in color, making the granules stand out when in a light colored sand. If your greens committee is fussy about ultra clean and white bunker sands, turn the spreader off when near them.
At this time OCEANGRO® is only available in a standard grade pill size. The fertilizer granules vary in size between 1.5 mm and 2.5 mm.
OCEANGRO® is lighter than synthetic fertilizers so be cautious when applying in windy conditions to assure a consistent throw pattern.
OCEANGRO® can be applied with any standard broadcast spreader. Large-scale applications can be made with a Lely®; or Vicon®; spreader at proper rates. However, because of the low fertilizer ratio in OCEANGRO®, applicators will fill the hopper frequently. High volume topdressing spreaders such as a Tycrop® or Dakota® are ideal for a golf course or athletic field application. Wet lime agricultural spreaders work equally well. Some municipalities apply OCEANGRO® using a V box salt spreader. A typical OCEANGRO® application will look similar to a granular lime application.
Synthetic chemical fertilizers and organics each have their place and their advantages and disadvantages. For optimal plant growth and health, fertilizer-buying decisions should be based on soil test recommendations, as well as economics and ease of use. Few straight synthetic chemical fertilizers include micronutrients, where OCEANGRO® will supply them. Consider using synthetic fertilizers for macronutrient needs and OCEANGRO® for the micronutrients. Decisions should begin and end on soil testing and sound agronomic practices.
Most of the initial green up from OCEANGRO® comes from the 2.5% (non staining) iron in the fertilizer. Because of the slow-release nature of OCEANGRO®, turf managers can expect a good spring green up without excessive blade growth. OCEANGRO® should be applied at rates no greater than the nitrogen requirement of the plant. Microbial activity and breakdown of the fertilizer will throttle the release of the fertilizer. Microbes can only break down so much OCEANGRO® at a time and, therefore, there are less peaks and valleys in turf growth and color.
For Homeowners: One 45-lb. bag will cover 3,000 square feet. At this rate, 0.75 lbs. of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. will be applied. OCEANGRO® should be applied at rates no greater than the nitrogen requirement of the plant. for application rates. For additional literature regarding proper fertilization, calibration of lawn fertilizer spreaders, etc. <Click Here>.. For Golf Courses and Athletic Fields: Maintenance rates start at 1/2 ton per acre - this will provide 1.1# nitrogen total and 0.12# nitrogen available. A 1-ton to the acre rate is recommended for first time use, if in areas of sandy soil or if soils are nutrient poor. Keep in mind the slow-release properties of OCEANGRO®. Low initial rates of OCEANGRO® may not give you the plant response you may be used to seeing in synthetic chemical fertilizers. It is better to initially start at a higher OCEANGRO® rate to build up a slow-release residual then adjust subsequent application rates lower as necessary to match the needs of the plants you are growing.
Apply OCEANGRO® to ornamental beds before adding the next topdressing of mulch. Incorporate OCEANGRO® into the soil when planting new nursery stock or bedding plants. If you are curious but not sure if adding micronutrient-rich OCEANGRO® will make a difference in your ornamental plant health, try OCEANGRO® on a small area and see the results for yourself.
All plant nutrient needs are met in using OCEANGRO® except for potassium - this must be added separately per soil test recommendation. Because of the non-burning nature of OCEANGRO®, it is an excellent starter fertilizer for new seeding and sod installations.
Maybe yes and maybe no. Are you planning an OCEANGRO® application next week or do you want to stockpile OCEANGRO® for future use? While 20 tons of OCEANGRO® may look like a pile of gravel or sand, keep in mind that OCEANGRO® is a low salt granular fertilizer that encourages microbial activity. This is good news for a soil ecosystem, not such good news in a parking lot. Bulk OCEANGRO® can be stored outside for short periods providing it is kept dry. Bulk material should be stored on a hard surface that can be easily cleaned up after use. However, do not store OCEANGRO® on a paved area next to a storm drain or in any manner that will allow rain to carry the granules away.
OCEANGRO® has been used as a grow-in fertilizer for golf courses and athletic fields. It is being used as a maintenance fertilizer for golf courses and municipal athletic complexes throughout Central and Southern New Jersey. OCEANGRO® is available in 45-lb plastic bags to the garden center and landscaper trade.