There are plenty of different fertilizers that you can find in your local store. However, while it might be hard to believe, you should know that several of these fertilizers are actually quite harmful, and even contain seriously toxic waste that is sourced from different industries.
Many of these fertilizers come with heavy metals and also contain various other poisons. The fact is that there are relatively little regulations in place to protect you, or the food supply, from the harmful ingredients that are found in these products.
One of the products that you might have come across in the aisles is Ironite. Understanding what it is and how it works is important before you decide to add some to your lawn.
What Is Ironite?
For those who don’t know, Ironite is one of the most popular fertilizers available in the market. It is commonly used on a variety of different surfaces, ranging from athletic fields to golf courses.
More importantly, you should know that Ironite is made from the mining waste that is released by a mine in Arizona.
Specifically, this is the Iron King Mine in the state. The thing about Ironite is that it has penetrated greatly in the local markets, and it can now be found in Home Depot, Target, and almost all of the other big retail places.
Most people don’t even think twice about going through the ingredients and the harmful effects of Ironite, they just start using it.
What Is Found in Ironite?
First of all, you should know that Ironite primarily contains two harmful ingredients: lead and arsenic. According to data that was compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency on contaminants found in fertilizer, it was shown that Ironite contains the most amount of arsenic. This was in comparison to all of the fertilizer products that were evaluated.
In fact, you should know that Ironite was also tested by the state of Minnesota, and it was shown that the fertilizer contains almost 6,020 parts per million arsenic and more than 3,400 parts per million of lead.
The Ironite Products Company also provided information, which was published by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, showing that Ironite contains almost 4,380 parts per million of arsenic and 2,940 parts per million of lead.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of all this is that the ingredients are not listed on the box at all. According to the company that sells Ironite, this is perfectly safe. The reason given by the company for this is that the chemicals that are found in the Ironite are generally bound so tightly that they cannot be absorbed by the body at all.
But, these claims were disputed when the state of Washington conducted extensive testing, showing that the arsenic and lead could be absorbed in the body. According to the report, up to 36% of arsenic could be absorbed, and almost 81% of the lead was also able to be absorbed.
Why Are Arsenic and Lead So Harmful?
Before we talk about using Ironite in your lawn, it is important to understand just why arsenic and lead are so harmful. For starters, you should know that arsenic is a commonly found carcinogen.
Even small amounts of lead could significantly impair a child’s ability to learn new things. Children are generally exposed to these harmful substances through contact with skin in the soil, or via ingestion.
For instance, if lead or arsenic were used in the garden and children are playing in those gardens, there is a strong chance that the child will end up being exposed to these chemicals in the soil.
According to one report that was published by the Washington State Department of Health, it was shown that the potential health hazards of Ironite were quite strong.
The bigger issue here is the fact that lead and arsenic are likely to build up in the soil. A scientist by the name of Carl Rosen, who worked at the University of Minnesota, applied the Ironite to his own garden.
Whereas the amount of arsenic in the background in most parts of Minnesota was one part per million, the one found in Dr. Rosen’s garden was around 100 parts per million.
So, now that you understand the harmful effects of Ironite and what it can do for your lawn, let’s talk about why Ironite is still so popular. First of all, you should know that your soil needs a variety of different nutrients to grow properly.
Lawn grass, for instance, needs an abundant supply of several essential nutrients that are required to accelerate plant growth. If there is a deficiency of a single nutrient, it could create a host of different problems, even in the fertile soil.
Iron, for example, is an incredibly important micronutrient. Your lawn requires iron to generate proper growth.
Why Is Iron So Important?
The plants in your house need iron only in very little amounts. For instance, the leaf of a corn plant is likely to contain around 2% potassium, but the amount of iron found in that same leaf is likely to be under 0.0005%.
Regardless, if this tiny amount of iron was not available, the plant would not be able to manufacture chlorophyll.
This is going to cause stunted growth and many of your plants are likely to suffer. The reason for that is simple: chlorophyll plays an integral role in the process of photosynthesis.
More importantly, chlorophyll is the reason why your plants take on a green color. They are likely to turn a shade of orange otherwise.
One of the most obvious symptoms that your plants are suffering from an iron deficiency is when they have an orange color between the veins. This condition is commonly known as interveinal chlorosis.
Most soils generally contain iron in adequate quantities, which is usually more than the plant requires. However, most of the iron is generally bound in forms within the roots that the plant is simply incapable of absorbing. Furthermore, you should know that the availability of iron in the soil is heavily influenced by the pH values.
As the pH value of the soil rises above the 6.5 mark, the iron becomes bounded and is no longer available. Furthermore, you should also know that a vast majority of the cases of iron deficiency are generally caused by the higher pH instead of the absence of iron in the soil.
So, if you think that your soil lacks iron, you might just want to try and bring down the pH value of the soil.
There are other soluble iron fertilizers, such as Ironite, which you can use to correct the issue. However, if you are going to apply Ironite to your lawn despite knowing the downsides, you have to make sure that you only apply it when the need for it is the greatest.
You should know that your grass is likely to fall into a conflict of interest during the spring period. When the air temperature increases and the days become longer, the growth rate of the grass increases considerably.
However, the cold soil in the spring also suppresses the chemical and the biological activity that makes it easy for nutrients to become available to the plants.
Basically, this effect becomes all the more common in lawns where soluble nitrogen is added in large quantities at the beginning of the season. Most people usually add soluble nitrogen to the mix to accelerate growth.
However, the amount of soluble iron in the soil might not be enough for the needs of the plant that are going to complement the growth in the spring.
Therefore, many people use Ironite during this time to improve the growth of the plants. Supplementary iron in soluble forms can eventually become fixed and turn into unavailable forms when the pH value of the soil increases. Therefore, if your soil is alkaline, you might want to consider using the liquid form of Ironite.
This is going to be absorbed through the leaves. Again, it’s important for you to be incredibly careful when you are applying the Ironite, because we have already talked about how arsenic and lead can absorb through your skin.
The Ideal Amount
If you are going to add Ironite to your lawn, you should know that on average, it only requires 0.7 ounces for every 1,000 square feet.
This is only suitable when the chlorosis indicates a serious deficiency of iron. Furthermore, you must never exceed the 1.4 ounces per 1,000 square feet figure.
Any more than this is likely going to create a serious problem. The grass in your lawn is going to turn a black-green color, and it’s going to die over time. You also need to make sure that you apply at least one pound of Ironite per 1,000 square feet.
Never apply more than two pounds for the same surface area.
Testing the Soil
Before you decide to apply Ironite to your lawn, it is important that you test the soil for iron deficiency.
As mentioned, using Ironite in your lawn should only be a last resort. There is no reason for you to use Ironite unless absolutely necessary, because of the many harmful effects that it can cause.
Therefore, you need to begin by testing the soil to determine the lack of iron. Ironite is going to temporarily green up the lawn. Keep in mind that to create a permanent solution for your iron-deficient soil, you are going to have to take several measures, many of which will be long-term.
Many people are under the impression that their grass is growing poorly because it lacks macronutrients such as nitrogen. However, by adding iron, you are just turning the grass green without providing it with all of the macronutrients that it needs.
As the levels of nitrogen begin to increase, you will have to increase the amount of water and the mowing schedule. This is also likely to lead to a series of fungal diseases in your lawns.
Plants generally use iron to make enzymes and they synthesize the proteins in manufacturing the chlorophyll. According to the manufacturer, Ironite should be used just four times a year, and it should never be used alone. You should always combine it with the conventional fertilizer program that you are using.
You have to apply it to the established lawn with the help of a fertilizer spreader. Once you are done with the application, you have to make sure that you water the soil as deeply as possible. This is going to ensure that the Ironite absorbs in the soil properly.
There are several kinds of liquid hose-on products available in the market as well, which will help you spread the Ironite evenly and also ensure that it absorbs through the roots as well as the blades of the grass. You have to attach the bottom to the end of the garden hose and then turn the water on to apply.
You also need to make sure that the Ironite is only applied to moist and watered soil. It needs to be applied at the rate of every two to four weeks. When you are working with these harmful garden chemicals, it is of paramount importance that you keep your family and your pets away.
A wise move would be to make sure that you lock everyone out of the garden for at least the next 12 hours until the soil has completely absorbed the Ironite inside.
If you are going to let your pets and kids around, make sure they do not walk on the grass. You do not want these harmful chemicals being absorbed by their body and then being brought into the house.
Ideally, using Ironite for your lawn is not a wise move, but if you absolutely have to, it is imperative that you take all appropriate safety measures.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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