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Swampy
01-30-2008, 12:45 AM
So we had a discussion in class today about use of chemicals in a landscape vs. organic. Well long story short is it smart move to use a program like Plant Health Care (PHC) or Intergrated Pest Management (IPM). Has anybody tried using them instead of the "Paid for 3 sprayings, you get 3 sparyings" and been successful?

The reason I ask this is that there is some rumors that the state of WI is going to be seriously cracking down on the use of chemicals for lawns and landscape. So we may be getting out of doing sprayings and going with one of those programs.

FdLLawnMan
01-30-2008, 01:57 AM
I just attended a seminar that several professors from the UW were at. Not one word was mentioned about restricting the use of chemicals. A thick lawn that receives adequate fertilizer will have less weed pressure but there is no replacement for herbicide. I know several people are saying the there is a blizzard of regulations coming but remember this. Te EPA just finished a 21 year study of 2.4-d. They could not find one instance of 2,40d causing cancer. They just re-approved for use throughout the US. I have not heard one thing of this. You should join the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association. They are at the forefront of what is going on in the state of Wisconsin.

MStine315
01-30-2008, 11:47 AM
I would have to say there are very few companies left that don't use some form of IPM. Maybe not a textbook line by line to perfection IPM, but an example would be the perma greens, z-spray's, etc... You are applying fertilizer to the whole lawn and SPOT treating weeds as needed. Back in the day round one would be fert. and pre-m, round 2 would be weed and feed (blanket) round 3 would be fert. and dursban or some equivelant. Round 4 would be weed and feed (blanket app.) In other words, you went out with a mix and everybody got the same app. Now, those apps. are fert with pre-m, with some guys even treating only "hot spots" such as curb lines, thin areas, etc... Round 2 is fert. and spot treat weeds. round 3 is fert., spot treat weeds and maybe spot treat surface insects. Round 4 is fert. and spot treat weeds. Some guys do a blanket app. in the fall of herbicide, but that just reduces the amount of herbicide needed with the spring app. even more. So "are we changing?" I think we have changed. And yes, it's an environmental issue, but even more it's a money issue. Why spend money applying something that isn't needed or won't work? That's money back in the operators pocket by being smart and using technology to his/her advantage.

Whitey4
01-30-2008, 12:40 PM
IPM doesn't mean no chemicals, nor does it mean just reducing the use of chemicals by spot treatments. What is "integrated" about that?

Yes, the goal of IPM is to reduce the need for chemical apps, but does not forgo their use! I don't know if any spray only outfit can claim IPM, unless they are working very closely with the landscaper and maintenance company that is "managing" a property.

IPM means selecting resistant plants for local or common disease problems, planting things at the optimal sites (don't install a Rhodi in full sun) correcting irrigation mistakes and habits, knowing when and how to prune and cut, soil and nutrient monitoring and amending as needed, weekly scouting with a hand held magnifier to diagnose problems early when they are most treatable and before significant damage can occur, customized apps programs, knowing treatment thresholds, using (and protecting) befeficials as much as possible.... and on and on.

The only people that can really implement a solid IPM plan in my opinion is the company that does the weekly maintenance, the chemical apps, the whole thing or treatment and prevention programs can't be very easilly integrated. It is this idea that I have based my entire business plan on. Now all I have to do is sell it to the customers!

Few LCO's use, or are even capable of implementing IPM. They have no clue what pests are on a property or when to treat. The spray only guys just aren't at a property often enough to do it either. At the very least, the LCO has to know enough to recognize when he needs to call in a certified applicator. In short, IPM means using pesticides as a last resort when other controls have failed to prevent econically acceptable levels of crop loss. That hardly means no pesticide use.

ICT Bill
01-30-2008, 02:04 PM
I just attended a seminar that several professors from the UW were at. Not one word was mentioned about restricting the use of chemicals. A thick lawn that receives adequate fertilizer will have less weed pressure but there is no replacement for herbicide. I know several people are saying the there is a blizzard of regulations coming but remember this. Te EPA just finished a 21 year study of 2.4-d. They could not find one instance of 2,40d causing cancer. They just re-approved for use throughout the US. I have not heard one thing of this. You should join the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association. They are at the forefront of what is going on in the state of Wisconsin.

If you read between the lines on the results of the study the results only apply if you "use as directed". If someone sprays too much or harry homeowner is careless will they be coughing up blood and get pesticide poisoning, YEP!

MStine315 makes some very good points, a lot has changed already. Applications, as he points out, are different than they use to be, you rarely see blanket applications any more.

It is not a cancer issue that is going on with the EPA (that would be the FDA) it is a water quality issue. The results from a national 5 year study dumbfounded most everyone as to the rates of pesticides, nitrogen and phosphorous that are in the waterways, lakes and wells. 18% of wells and 24% of streams, in the study, had such high levels of contamination that they should never be used as drinking water.
If entire states have to move their populations to new water sources it will bankrupt the local and state governments

americanlawn
01-30-2008, 04:24 PM
I would have to say there are very few companies left that don't use some form of IPM. Maybe not a textbook line by line to perfection IPM, but an example would be the perma greens, z-spray's, etc... You are applying fertilizer to the whole lawn and SPOT treating weeds as needed. Back in the day round one would be fert. and pre-m, round 2 would be weed and feed (blanket) round 3 would be fert. and dursban or some equivelant. Round 4 would be weed and feed (blanket app.) In other words, you went out with a mix and everybody got the same app. Now, those apps. are fert with pre-m, with some guys even treating only "hot spots" such as curb lines, thin areas, etc... Round 2 is fert. and spot treat weeds. round 3 is fert., spot treat weeds and maybe spot treat surface insects. Round 4 is fert. and spot treat weeds. Some guys do a blanket app. in the fall of herbicide, but that just reduces the amount of herbicide needed with the spring app. even more. So "are we changing?" I think we have changed. And yes, it's an environmental issue, but even more it's a money issue. Why spend money applying something that isn't needed or won't work? That's money back in the operators pocket by being smart and using technology to his/her advantage.

Ditto. Everything you said applies to us as well. Nice post! I'm sure glad the "ride-on units" became available. Could have used one back in the old days:laugh:

Whitey4
01-30-2008, 05:53 PM
What MStine is talking about isn't what an IPM program is supposed to be IMO. That is simply an improved, more targeted apps plan that reduces unecessary chemical applications. That's a good thing... but it isn't IPM, although it's an important part of any good IPM program, but that's all, just a part. There is much more to it than apllications. There are many other parts that are equally important, but I have a feeling I'll end up getting flamed... so it might be in my best interest to drop the topic.

FdLLawnMan
01-30-2008, 09:36 PM
2,4-d has roughly the same Lethal Dose level as aspirin and salt. Almost anything is deadly if the levels are high enough. As professionals, are willy nilly spraying everything in sight. No we are not. That's why we talk people into fertilizing along with weed control as we all know a well fertilized lawn has less weed pressure which means less herbicide use. To say that over applying 2,4-d will cause you to spit up blood is an overstatement at the least. You would have to drink 2,4-d straight to even get close. If I remember correctly ICT, you are the guy that said applicators have to throw away their clothes after every use, which is also an overstatement. The perception that the herbicides we use are as dangerous as the public is being brainwashed into is not based in fact. I live in a very strong agricultural area. The problems we have in the wells around here come from the cow manure. You cannot get more organic than that.
Just my 2 cents.

MStine315
01-30-2008, 11:08 PM
What MStine is talking about isn't what an IPM program is supposed to be IMO. That is simply an improved, more targeted apps plan that reduces unecessary chemical applications. That's a good thing... but it isn't IPM, although it's an important part of any good IPM program, but that's all, just a part. There is much more to it than apllications. There are many other parts that are equally important, but I have a feeling I'll end up getting flamed... so it might be in my best interest to drop the topic.

I thought about this post a lot today and I'd like to amend my thoughts, or add to them, if I may. Whitey is right, I am sort of melting IPM in with responsible pesticide use. I believe responsible pesticide use and using the right product at the right time for the right reasons is a part of IPM, but we as applicators also do a lot that goes without notice to the IPM proponents. Mike touched on one, proper fertilization. We also give the property owners endless information regarding proper watering, mowing, recommend aeration, etc... All these promote a healthy lawn, which in turn promotes higher (or is it lower?) insect threshholds, lower disease pressures, fewer weeds, etc... So in effect this is a big part of IPM. Now, what the customer does with this information, we all know is up in the air, but we can't always hold their hand either. Yes, on-site guys have a larger opportunity to practice traditional IPM, but generally customers aren't going to pay for this service, either. Along the same lines, hand weeding would be considered IPM. Not many customers would be able to afford this service or be willing to pay for it, either. Economics play a big role in all this, and let's face it, pesticides aren't very expensive in comparison to other control methods Proper site management will only go so far and you'll always have some type of pest pressures. Back to the original post, it's up to us as applicators to use our products diligently, so as to not give those in power reason to restrict them.

FdLLawnMan
01-30-2008, 11:53 PM
I thought about this post a lot today and I'd like to amend my thoughts, or add to them, if I may. Whitey is right, I am sort of melting IPM in with responsible pesticide use. I believe responsible pesticide use and using the right product at the right time for the right reasons is a part of IPM, but we as applicators also do a lot that goes without notice to the IPM proponents. Mike touched on one, proper fertilization. We also give the property owners endless information regarding proper watering, mowing, recommend aeration, etc... All these promote a healthy lawn, which in turn promotes higher (or is it lower?) insect threshholds, lower disease pressures, fewer weeds, etc... So in effect this is a big part of IPM. Now, what the customer does with this information, we all know is up in the air, but we can't always hold their hand either. Yes, on-site guys have a larger opportunity to practice traditional IPM, but generally customers aren't going to pay for this service, either. Along the same lines, hand weeding would be considered IPM. Not many customers would be able to afford this service or be willing to pay for it, either. Economics play a big role in all this, and let's face it, pesticides aren't very expensive in comparison to other control methods Proper site management will only go so far and you'll always have some type of pest pressures. Back to the original post, it's up to us as applicators to use our products diligently, so as to not give those in power reason to restrict them.

Bravo Marc, you said very well what I believe, most of us think. Proper use of fertilizers & herbicides actually help the environment, not hurt it. I get upset when irrational and greatly exaggerated statements are said about the business I am in, and the products I use.

Whitey4
01-31-2008, 12:20 AM
I thought about this post a lot today and I'd like to amend my thoughts, or add to them, if I may. Whitey is right, I am sort of melting IPM in with responsible pesticide use. I believe responsible pesticide use and using the right product at the right time for the right reasons is a part of IPM, but we as applicators also do a lot that goes without notice to the IPM proponents. Mike touched on one, proper fertilization. We also give the property owners endless information regarding proper watering, mowing, recommend aeration, etc... All these promote a healthy lawn, which in turn promotes higher (or is it lower?) insect threshholds, lower disease pressures, fewer weeds, etc... So in effect this is a big part of IPM. Now, what the customer does with this information, we all know is up in the air, but we can't always hold their hand either. Yes, on-site guys have a larger opportunity to practice traditional IPM, but generally customers aren't going to pay for this service, either. Along the same lines, hand weeding would be considered IPM. Not many customers would be able to afford this service or be willing to pay for it, either. Economics play a big role in all this, and let's face it, pesticides aren't very expensive in comparison to other control methods Proper site management will only go so far and you'll always have some type of pest pressures. Back to the original post, it's up to us as applicators to use our products diligently, so as to not give those in power reason to restrict them.

Marc, that was a well thought out post, and I agree with you wholeheartedly! And definitely, economics is often the over riding force in how all of this does or does not work.

My biusness plan will at least in my target market either prove or disprove this quote from your post:

Yes, on-site guys have a larger opportunity to practice traditional IPM, but generally customers aren't going to pay for this service, either. Along the same lines, hand weeding would be considered IPM. Not many customers would be able to afford this service or be willing to pay for it, either.

I will make a point of telling my customers not to call 911 when they see me on my stomache with a hand magnifier every week. Expect to see me wandering apparently aimlessly thorugh the ornamentals. I am going to try to sell a complete IPM program. I know, especially at first, I won't be making much of a profit, but I am in a position where that is NOT what drives my company. I want to see what happens with a true IPM approach. That means also doing mow and blows for 25 bucks... but I have to be on the property every week.

Can this work, and be a profitable business? Even I sort of doubt that, but I will test that theory out. I am fortunate in that I don't have to be driven by gross sales and net profit. I'm sure I will make some money, but I want to see if IPM can be sold as a more envorinmentally friendly (at least in terms of customer perception) as opposed to the "organics only" extremist approach.

I think there may be a niche for a compromise between the old heavy apps approach and the whole go organic movement. That is how I define IPM, actually. But, like organics, it isn't cheap... but should have better, more effective and faster results, which is I think important for most cutomers. They want results yesterday. It's a middle of the road compromise.

I didn't just dream this up. I decided on this business model after a lot of thought. LCO's that can't get rid of nut sedge to the Chem Lawn spray and pray guys to the organics that can't stop crabgrass. All of those extremes have serious flaws. (and no, I am not lumping people into those pidgeon holes, just exagerating to make a point)

Will people pay for it? I'll stick around and let you know. I do know I am enjoying the ride. If there is a demograpchic where this can work, it's Long Island. One of the highest median incomes in the country, hot bed of restrictions, high breast cancer, of course wrongly pinned on pesticide use exclusively -it's the old industrial chemical manufacturing plants that were the cause IMO.... so, my business plan is something of an experiment. Can IPM make it with the reality of it's economics be successful? That's what I want to find out.

Swampy
01-31-2008, 07:52 AM
To Whitey4: Its good that your going to give it a try, and I've been thinking about this to. The Mower guys that offer their own spraying programs would have a bigger advantage for doing this type of program than the dedicated fert and squirt company's because they are usually on site every week or two.

What I was thinking because we are a lawn maintenance company and the only fert and squirt we do is for our contracted accounts so being out there weekly isn't a problem. But have a time scheduled to do a full walk around 3-5 times a year for a couple of hours/location at a time (we have large acreage or multiple location contracts). The only problem I can for see with doing this program is one of our accounts is a municipal schools contract.

PHS
01-31-2008, 08:49 AM
Can this work, and be a profitable business? Even I sort of doubt that, but I will test that theory out

I think it can be if you are actually providing a service when you show up. If you are mowing the lawn weekly or maitaining the shrubs and flowers and also providing an IPM service then you are getting paid to be on the property on a regular basis and you can do inspections while you're there. Inspections shouldn't take more than a few minutes. You pretty much know what pests are going to show on which plants at what time of the year.

If you are just doing lawn or ornamental treatments where you only have to make applications a few times a year then I doubt you are going to be able to sell 35 inspections and only actually do work on 5 or 6 of them.

high breast cancer, of course wrongly pinned on pesticide use exclusively -it's the old industrial chemical manufacturing plants that were the cause IMO
My mom died of breast cancer so it's a subject that I take seriously but recent studies are pointing towads demographics as the primary reason for high breast cancer rates in these exclusive areas. Beverly Hlls and Marin county in CA also have higher than average breast cancer rates.

Tom Jaszewski
01-31-2008, 10:51 AM
We are changing and in some quarters changing rapidly. Those that hang on to the old buzz phrases like, "no more harmful than salt" are going to have the most difficult transition. But transition we will. Turf can be grown without herbicides just as farm crops can. But it will take some new approaches. No need for inter twining politics and personal beliefs, just better fertilization practices and soil stewardship. I managed to eliminate all herbicides but one at The Mirage Hotel 7 years before I retired. I'd be happy to discuss those approaches with anyone interested.

mrkosar
01-31-2008, 11:13 AM
We are changing and in some quarters changing rapidly. Those that hang on to the old buzz phrases like, "no more harmful than salt" are going to have the most difficult transition. But transition we will. Turf can be grown without herbicides just as farm crops can. But it will take some new approaches. No need for inter twining politics and personal beliefs, just better fertilization practices and soil stewardship. I managed to eliminate all herbicides but one at The Mirage Hotel 7 years before I retired. I'd be happy to discuss those approaches with anyone interested.

i would love to hear more about this, but i can't pm you. pm me and i will give you my email address. i am interested in getting some information from a veteran in the industry like yourself.

Tom Jaszewski
01-31-2008, 11:20 AM
i would love to hear more about this, but i can't pm you. pm me and i will give you my email address. i am interested in getting some information from a veteran in the industry like yourself.sorry I don't see an option to PM, I updated my profile that should give you contact information.

Whitey4
01-31-2008, 12:05 PM
To Whitey4: Its good that your going to give it a try, and I've been thinking about this to. The Mower guys that offer their own spraying programs would have a bigger advantage for doing this type of program than the dedicated fert and squirt company's because they are usually on site every week or two.

What I was thinking because we are a lawn maintenance company and the only fert and squirt we do is for our contracted accounts so being out there weekly isn't a problem. But have a time scheduled to do a full walk around 3-5 times a year for a couple of hours/location at a time (we have large acreage or multiple location contracts). The only problem I can for see with doing this program is one of our accounts is a municipal schools contract.

I think it's nearly economically impossible to implement a full IPM approach on very large properties. That is why I won't go after any commercial accounts. The properties here run about 3 to 5k of turf, and another 1 or 2k of ornamentals and beds. So that is in the business plan, and is reflecting in my advertising program... no yellow page ads for me.

Interesting Tom... and I have yet a lot to learn about organics and in the long term do expect to keep gradually heading in that direction, but I do think pesticides also have a permanent place in the green industry. Reducing their use is my goal. The over application of ferts and pesticides in Long Island's sandy loam and high water table has resulted in serious restrictions already. 4 of the 8 wells in my water district were closed last year because of high nitrate levels. The next county just restricted ferts between Nov 1 and March 15, effective Nov 1 of this year.

I can see a day when even ferts become RU materials here. Not available to people who aren't certified. Last year my next door neighbor used the wrong spreader off the label, and was throwing down Scotts step one at twice the directed rate. Companies like Scotts could put themselves out of business in the long term, or at least sabotage growth for more short term profit now.

When it comes to synthetics vs. the organic people, it's almost like politics... so many are far left or far right. I think there is some happy middle ground, and that is what my goals in this biz are.

garydale
02-02-2008, 11:06 AM
I say that you should promote IPM methods to your clients because they are onsite and must decide what levels of control they want.

We all know that the average client will not/cannot afford constant inspections or monitoring of their property. However if you have explained IPM properly to them and they want to participate it can work.

IPM is a tool, one of many and anyone trying to make it one or the other (organic vs. inorganic) is foolish. IMO

Use every tool that is at your disposal. ie: cultural practices, control products, proper mowing, plant selection, beneficial predators etc.

It is perfectly proper to use a weed control product to cleanup a lawn and then use cultural methods (IPM) to maintain it.

I will do what is best for a clientís property to get the results he wishes and can afford.

Tom Jaszewski
02-02-2008, 12:14 PM
I think it's nearly economically impossible to implement a full IPM approach on very large properties. That is why I won't go after any commercial accounts. The properties here run about 3 to 5k of turf, and another 1 or 2k of ornamentals and beds. So that is in the business plan, and is reflecting in my advertising program... no yellow page ads for me.

I'm not sure that is an accurate assessment. Certainly as it applied to my situation in Las Vegas it isn't. I was able to dump the Improved Pesticide Marketing program for a ZERO pesticide program AND reduce budgets in a very short time. I do realize of course this is not a typical commersial account, but non the less mission accomplished!

I found the key was to have a single customer who buys in and play off that. Use the same learning by seeing the pollarding pruners spread? Toro was successful in their "Don't Bag It" programs by getting one neighbor to buy in...

Do you get the sense that I'm hopeful, and there really aren't any barriers other than those I create with my own ego or attitude.

Interesting Tom... and I have yet a lot to learn about organics and in the long term do expect to keep gradually heading in that direction, but I do think pesticides also have a permanent place in the green industry. Reducing their use is my goal. The over application of ferts and pesticides in Long Island's sandy loam and high water table has resulted in serious restrictions already. 4 of the 8 wells in my water district were closed last year because of high nitrate levels. The next county just restricted ferts between Nov 1 and March 15, effective Nov 1 of this year.

I don't think it's just about organics. As a matter of fact I tend to use the word less and less. The politics of the word it self is becoming stifling. Pesticides have a place as long as those marketing them are better at marketing than we are at creative solutions. I don't like pesticides, I think they are more often than not the result of poor practice....oh and lets not forget hind sighted management. I don't mean that to be as harsh as it may sound. Fact is if I need to roundup a property to get it on track I will. But I will with a very careful plan.

I can see a day when even ferts become RU materials here. Not available to people who aren't certified. Last year my next door neighbor used the wrong spreader off the label, and was throwing down Scotts step one at twice the directed rate. Companies like Scotts could put themselves out of business in the long term, or at least sabotage growth for more short term profit now.

There's the single biggest problem....if the paper boy asked for $50 to cover a $25 bill the homeowner would go nuts. But he'll dump $50 in fert where $25 was needed. What makes the brightest neighbor go stupid with landscape chemicals?

When it comes to synthetics vs. the organic people, it's almost like politics... so many are far left or far right. I think there is some happy middle ground, and that is what my goals in this biz are.

..and in the end I agree, organics aren't likely to turn our profits up....maybe a systematic approach towards sustainable where we combine good management of biological resources combined with the wise use of appropriate fertilizers. As I'm writing I'm thinking of that organic grower who has a copper deficiency, but by organic standards can't legally apply copper...go figure. The approach for me has become "pesticide free".

Whitey4
02-02-2008, 01:02 PM
Tom, I surely am impressed with your knowledge and your approach regarding how you share that here. I should have been a bit more clear when I said I didn't think IPM can work on large properties... of course it can, but just not by me and my small company. I was referring to how I can't implement IPM on large properties.

The arboretum I work at (Planting Fields Arboretum, Oyster Bay, NY) is over 400 acres and is fully commited to IPM. They use less and less pesticides every year. I was saying that as a solo operator, I certaily would not have enough time to implement IPM at such a large property! It takes quite a few smart people to make it work for 400 acres!

This arboretum is split into sections, like dwarf conifers, holly, the heather garden, etc, each one being managed by highly educated horticulturists. For my business, I can only address small properties. I also think that many large commercial accounts just don't want to spend the extra money that it takes to fully commit to IPM. They often just want the property to look good for as cheaply as possible. Just the scouting alone takes an awful lot of time on big properties.

Sure, some IPM controls can be used especially when it comes to installations, mulching and other cultural, and engineering controls, but mechanical controls can get expensive. Many large accounts around here won't spring for top dressing, overseeding or even aeration until the place starts to look lousy. They seem more content to let things go, and start from scratch with new installations. Penny-wise, pound foolish.

Swampy
02-02-2008, 03:09 PM
I also think that many large commercial accounts just don't want to spend the extra money that it takes to fully commit to IPM. They often just want the property to look good for as cheaply as possible. Just the scouting alone takes an awful lot of time on big properties.

Well put it this way, if you can convince them that it will look better in the publics image of that they are more environmentally friendly then the other guy, the public will have more aspiration for them. Let alone a city in our service area pass a ordinance for clean industries, its something that restricts the building of manufacturing plants within the city.

If you can train a mowing crew to keep a eye on whats going on and take a note of it as they are packing up to leave, example "weeds growing through a shrub on the north side of blah blah blah, and cover in blah blah blah part on the southern corner of the lawn" then you'd know the general area to check up on. Granted they aren't license to use chemicals but can act as a extra set of eyes.