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What You Need to Know About Rotary Spreaders

July 6, 2018 | Categories: , ,
close-up of fertilizer spreader in the grass

Rotary spreaders are a very efficient way to spread fertilizer on your field. Avoid mistakes like the one below by reviewing these rotary spreader basics.

While the spreader settings are also on the fertilizer bag, it is a good idea to calibrate your spreader for accuracy. Factors affecting spreader settings for calibration, which may not be on the bag, include walking speed, age and condition of the spreader, quality and consistency of the product, the operator, and similar conditions. For instance, a typical walking speed is 3 or 4 miles per hour, but everyone’s walking speed is different, so you need to account for that when calibrating. Also, older spreaders may have different spreader settings due to continue use and wear.

Before you start fertilizing

Measure the field, determine the amount of fertilizer needed and calibrate your spreader. Always read the fertilizer label for a reference on the amount of fertilizer needed.

How to start

When beginning to spread fertilizer on your field, make a perimeter pass around it. Next, find a starting point and break the field down into sections. Outline one section with fertilizer and then spread the rest of the section in a back and forth motion. The back and forth motion creates a pattern. Continue outlining and laying a pattern on the remaining field sections.

Filling a spreader with the product

Never fill a spreader with fertilizer on turf. Forgetting the spreader is open and on the turf will allow fertilizer to fall through and pile up on the ground. If you dump fertilizer in a pile, at that point, you are killing the turf. It burns it. Always fill the spreader with fertilizer off the turf.

Correct spacing

Applying uneven fertilizer applications on your field will cause “striping” (creating dark and light green stripes that alternate on your turf). Throw the fertilizer from tire to tire mark or, in other words, make sure your spreader wheel is landing on the edge of your previous pass’s pattern to achieve correct spacing.


Completely shut down the spreader when turning or stopping. Excessive fertilizer falling from the spreader could damage the turf.


Some popular recommendations are ATS 22-3-11 with Armament, ATS 30-0-6 with Armament, ATS 22-0-4 with Armament, or Healthy Grow 10-3-2 Enhanced with Foliar-Pak Armament for successful late summer fertilizer applications. Be sure to follow up with your ATS sales rep for recommendations that fit your specific needs.