Most protein for the dollar: Poultry feed vs. soybean meal

studly(4 (MN))September 12, 2008

I'm going to try out organic fertilizer and have been checking the local feed stores and finding out what provides the most protein for the dollar. I heard soybean meal is high in protein and can find that for about $10 per 50# bag. But doesn't SBM have less than 10% protein?

The best I can find for amt of protein per dollar is a 50# bag of Meat Maker Poultry Feed with is $11, but is 21% protein. Would this work out fine as fertilizer?

I plan to rotate other organic fertilizers into the mix, but would just about any high protein animal feed make decent organic fertilizer? Do the soil microbes eat virtually any protein that is added to the lawn?

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bpgreen(5UT)

I just googled soybean meal protein and the results I found seemed to indicate the protein is in the 40%-50% range. Are you thinking the percentage of N?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 2:50PM
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studly(4 (MN))

You're right. I think I was confusing protein with nitrogen % for SBM. So SBM seems to offer the most nitrogen for the buck, by far. Correct?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 3:04PM
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bpgreen(5UT)

I use coffee grounds, which are free, but if you have a large lawn, they wouldn't be practical. From what I understand, SBM gives the most bang for the buck when you're not using free stuff.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 3:26PM
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studly(4 (MN))

That's my other plan: to run to Starbucks and get some free coffee grounds. Was wondering, with little protein, are coffee grounds more of a supplementary fertilizer or could you have a healthly lawn fertilizing exclusively with coffee grounds, especially if your lawn is nitrogen deficient, like mine?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 4:00PM
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bpgreen(5UT)

I can never remember the formula to convert protein to N or vice versa, but coffee grounds are about 2% N. So it takes 50 lbs of grounds to get 1 lb of N. A KBG lawn usually needs 3-4 lbs of N per 1000 sq ft per year, although if you mulch mow, the grass clippings return about 1 lb per 1000 sq ft.

I've been using nothing but coffee grounds on my lawn for the past few years and my lawn has done fine with that approach. My lawn is only 4000 sq ft and I don't use the grounds in the back yard (we have a dog that supplies plenty of fertilizer there).

Lawns here tend to be smaller than in the Midwest (you don't want a big lawn when the only water it gets comes from the sprinklers) so it's easier for me to get enough grounds, but it might be a bit more work for you.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 4:24PM
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decklap(5IL)

The formula for converting protein to N:

% of protein/6.25

Any protein will feed the microbes. As for coffee grounds it depends on what kind of soil you're starting out with and how much patience you have. If you have bad soil and are looking for results in the short term then I'd wait on the coffee grounds until you've increased the level of organic matter in your soil.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 4:52PM
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sudzy(5b IL)

If you have bad soil and are looking for results in the short term then I'd wait on the coffee grounds until you've increased the level of organic matter in your soil.

If I may jump in on this tread? This is the part that I don't understand in relation to lawns. My soil is heavy clay. I can and have easily amended my garden beds 'cause I can till amendments into the soil.
But with a lawn, I just don't get it. Some sections of my lawn are so clay that grass just can't grow. (think pudding when wet) Seeds do spout and reach about one or two inches. Then the grass invertibly dies off. I've even physically turned over a particulary bad section twice...no help, grass died.
If one does not the the money or the muscle to till admendments into a 5000 sq ft area, how does one incorporate material into the soil? (I got so discouraged this summer with trying to get grass that I turned over 200 more sq ft into garden/flower beds)

Yes, I mulch mow high. Smile. I have plenty of fall leaves (and can easily get bags more) which I usually use for the garden area. Would mulching these atop the soil help amend the yard? Large amounts of coffee grounds are not an option. Compost on the yard is not an option. (C tea, lol , tried three times and kept ending up with a stinking mess which I was afraid to use. I just spread cracked corn which made the birds and squirrels very happy.
It seems to me, that if you don't have the initial investment for organics, the program is hard to get started. What am I overlooking?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 9:16PM
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bpgreen(5UT)

Sudzy--It's impractical to try to till the lawn, so the only way to add organic matter is to topdress and let the worms and soil microbes incorporate into the soil.

Why are large amounts of coffee grounds not an option? Aren't there any Starbucks near you? If there aren't any Starbucks, you could try gas stations and convenience stores. The difference is that at Starbucks, it's corporate policy, but you'd have to ask at the other places. Offer to bring in a 5 gallon bucket every day (keep two--one to leave and one to take with you). Let them know that they can leave the filters in.

Another source of free organic matter is tree trimming services. They usually have to pay tipping fees to dump the shredded trees so they save money by dumping them for free.

I find using organics is less expensive than using syntheetics for me. I started with heavy clay that would puddle almost immediately and now I never see any puddling when I water.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 10:15PM
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decklap(5IL)

Assuming you already own a lawn mower switching to organics doesn't have to cost anything. Mulching the leaves would help tremendously. They are the single biggest source of OM available to a homeowner yet most people don't use them at all.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 1:57PM
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woodycrest(Ontario, Canada)

"It seems to me, that if you don't have the initial investment for organics, the program is hard to get started. What am I overlooking? "

what initial investment?? the largest investment is TIME!!
nature knows what to do! :)

follow the suggestions above and be patient.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 8:25PM
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sudzy(5b IL)

Hi guys.....Sorry it took me so long to answer. Actually with the hurricane and then the other issues happening with the economy my little battle with the lawn seemed insufficient. But I do appreciate the advice.

Bpgreen: Yes, there are 4 Starbucks in the nearest town. But that's a forty mile trip which I don't take too often. However, there are a couple of small business that I can approach. Thank you for that suggestion.

Ok decklap. I sure can mulch the leaves. I always hated the looks of them mulched atop the grass so I used them for the beds instead. But hey, I can change. I live on a circle drive and every week-end in the fall I watch the neighbors burn mountains of leaves. I can snag those too. Thank You

Woody...The initial investment that I was referring to was grains. (since I never used chemicals I had zero investment) Time I've got plenty of ..Thank you.

Some good news. Dropped my first 50# of cracked corn down two weeks ago. And there are mounds and mounds of worm castings in the yard. (Sure that the 6in of rain in a week helped too)

Now I understand, just make the organic matter available on TOP the soil. Time and the worms will do the rest.
Smiles. Sudzy

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 3:20AM
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sudzy(5b IL)

Bp: You've got me thinking. lol. How much good is sawdust for the lawn or other uses?. I live in a small city. The area where they dump the downed branches are just down the back top a bit. The limbs just sit there. And besides that, it's heavily wooded here, I'm tossing out limbs for collection after every storm myself. I'm sure the city won't mind. I can check.
If I could find a shredder would this be a good investment? I've been just tossing the trigs in my compost and putting larger items on the curb.(there are auctions and rumage around this area constantly...finding one cheap would probably be easy) Tanks for your advice.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 3:39AM
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bpgreen(5UT)

Sawdust will add organic matter to the soil and is good for that. Sawdust is very high in carbon, so if it is tilled, you should add a nitrogen source along with it.

I've got a small shredder that takes care of branches up to about 1.25 inches in diameter. I get a lot of small branches after windstorms, and don't often get large branches. I usually either spread the chipped wood in a thin layer on the lawn or add them to the compost.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 3:33PM
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greeness

Starting a compost heap (now that it's falling leaf season) is a free source of topdressing/nutrients for garden beds and leaves. Many of you already know this, but here's an article on how to start a compost heap for anyone getting started in green gardening.

Here is a link that might be useful: Composting and Recycling Lawn and Garden Clippings

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 1:04PM
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soccer_dad

"They are the single biggest source of OM available to a homeowner yet most people don't use them at all."

decklap, your comment got me thinking about how much organic material one can add back to the soil with sound cultural practices. After finding a hodge podge of weights and volumes for different OM and doing some guesstimating, mulch mowing seems to add a lot more OM than leaves - at least in my yard. I figure after allowing 80% water I'm returning over 400 pounds/1000 of OM to the soil just by mulch mowing. Mulching my leaves only gives me about 80#/k. The catch is that the clippings decay very fast versus the leaves are slower.

I need more leaves!

Between clippings, leaves, feed grains, and a little compost I'm over 600#'s/k for the year. Enough to raise my OM percentage 1 point assuming it all stayed around in a form the soil could use. I'd be happy with a 1/4 or 1/2 point per year.

Just by switching to a mulching mower this last year I have seen a good improvement in my soil.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 7:35PM
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sudzy(5b IL)

Ha. Just read this 4yr old thread. My message is for newbies. Listen these pros!!!! Consistency and Patience. That's the KEY. All, I've done is mulch mow high, mulch tons of leaves, added coffee grounds and home made compost tossed here and there! My yard shows an enormous improvement over 4 yrs ago. Even here is the drought stricken Midwest, (no additional water from me either)as soon as the rains started again, my grass came back. Nice Nice Nice. (I've learned to live with a bit of crabgrass, although I pull and weed eat out as much as possible.)
Away, just wanted to thank everyone is this forum for being here for us whenever we need you. God Bless Sue

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 2:43AM
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