Integrated Pest Management

Fertilizer Burn

Fertilizer Misapplication

Fertilizer misapplication (Glenn Hardebeck, Purdue University)

Fertilizer Scorch

Fertilizer scorch (Sten Porse, Wikimedia Commons)



Fertilizer misapplication can lead to striping or dead patches in the turf area. Fertilizer burn is more commonly associated with soluble nitrogen fertilizers with high salt indices, rather than slow-release formulations. Fertilizer burn occurs when fertilizer spreaders are incorrectly calibrated, when excessive application overlap occurs, or when the wrong amount of fertilizer is used or spilled leading to product over-application. 


To avoid fertilizer burn, properly calibrate application equipment. Select fertilizers with a low salt index. If using quick-release fertilizers, use lower rates. For specific recommendations on fertilizing turf, see USU Extension publication “Lawn Fertilizers for Cool Season Turf.” Fill application equipment on hard surfaces to prevent spills in the lawn. Sweep spilled nitrogen from hard surfaces to avoid runoff.