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jettabug
03-28-2002, 08:17 PM
:blob3: Ever think of running an organic landscape co.
I have often thought of turning my co organic. There are many organic supply companys, I know that it may take a while to get the word out but I feel that a lot of customers may jump on the boat. I am looking for an aspect to make my buisness stand above the rest in todays environmentally conscious society. Any thoughts on this? Do any of you use organic fertilizers?

Nebraska
03-29-2002, 12:30 AM
Just started offering it this year. Using it on my own property too.

Kent Lawns
03-29-2002, 12:40 AM
We offer both.

Organics from a natural source are more expensive, but have their advantages.

Most fertilizers are organic from a man-made source.

tpl
04-02-2002, 06:36 AM
I incorporate organic in my eight app program. It allows for me to get the extra two apps from the norm in Nashville. When it come time to seed, i put down organics before and after the seeding. Works great! My customers are happy because they feel they are doing something for our environment. Though, I will not offer a full line-up of organic programs. I never found it to work as good as chemicals.

Eirik
06-06-2003, 12:34 AM
I Fert 65 out of my 72 accounts with a blood meal and cottonseed meal mix (18-5-2) The other seven I use synthetic fert by request... these 7 accounts get more pest and fungus problems annually than the other 65 combined. (not that I mind, more $)

I use mirage, round up, etc in the beds, and spray for broad leafs in the lawns.

I still need to get paid...

And lets face it you cannot go to customers and say "you are going to have twice as many weeds, and it is going to cost you twice as much."

I switched to organic fert a year and a half ago after seeing the results over the course of a growing season.

I was paying 11 bucks for a 50# bag of chem fert (ferting some accounts 4-5 times a year) Now 13 bucks a bag twice a year, maybe.

Fert the soil not the plant.

KirbysLawn
06-06-2003, 01:00 AM
Try selling it first, I sell Sustaine apps and it's not cheap, the lawns treated with Sustaine look great but I could not make a living selling it, it cost too much.

timturf
06-10-2003, 10:05 AM
If you use strictly natural organic fert, you apply too much p2o5 and not enough potash!
Feed the soil first!!

Use a combination of natural organic fert and sythetic fertt.

mowerparts
06-10-2003, 01:58 PM
I use Insure For Lawns Organic products. So far the results have been great. All organic and no chemicals. They even have a product that kills weeds in beds or lawns.:blob4:

Grassmechanic
06-10-2003, 06:28 PM
Plants and lakes cannot tell the difference between different sources of nutrients. Nitrogen is nitrogen, phosphorus is phosphorus and potash is potash, not matter what the source. That being said, I offer both to those that think they are doing the environment a favor.

Mike

Randy J
06-10-2003, 07:02 PM
Originally posted by Grassmechanic
Plants and lakes cannot tell the difference between different sources of nutrients. Mike

Mike, I'm no chemist, but there has to be a difference between organic, and man made fertilizers. Organic fertilizers offer slower release and less potential for burn. Anytime you return naturally occuring components to the soil I would have to think that's better than man made chemicals.
I know they cost considerably more, but over a period of time they outperform conventionals, with less potential for damage. I understand the higher cost of synthetics may not sell in all areas, but I think anyone who turns their nose up at them is going to miss out. Educate customers on why they're more expensive, and many customers will be willing to pay for them. Especially in a field as competitive as lawn care, anything you can do to seperate yourself from the masses is to your benefit.
Just my thoughts anyway.

Randy

LawnMagic1
06-10-2003, 08:59 PM
I think using organic fert. is a great idea. There are so many benefits...no burn potential, increased microbial activity in the soil to eat away that thatch, less N runoff. But there is the cost issue too if you are trying to get a full lb. of N down.

I'm thinking of using Nitroform 34-0-0 next year. You can put down 2-3 N in one application and not get burned. There is that initial cost again $28/50lb. bag, but hey...your done with granular applications for the year.

Eirik
06-10-2003, 09:09 PM
I couldnt agree with Randy J more.
With my experience, it seems the cost is the initial turn off, then ignorance.

dan deutekom
06-10-2003, 10:16 PM
I agree with Grassmechanic. It dosn't really matter what the source of the nutrients is. If organics don't harm the environment, then why do the environmentalists come down so hard on farm pastures that are near lakes, or spreading of pig manure on the land, chicken barns and the handling of manure or the runoff from cow herds into streams.......

Mike Bradbury
06-11-2003, 01:23 AM
Originally posted by Grassmechanic
Plants and lakes cannot tell the difference between different sources of nutrients. Nitrogen is nitrogen, phosphorus is phosphorus and potash is potash, not matter what the source. That being said, I offer both to those that think they are doing the environment a favor.

Mike

Plants cannot tell the difference. The SOIL sure as hell can. One destroys it's microbial life and structure. One feeds and sustains said life.
Feed the soil, not the plant.

Mike Bradbury
06-11-2003, 01:27 AM
Originally posted by Randy J
Mike, I'm no chemist, but there has to be a difference between organic, and man made fertilizers. Organic fertilizers offer slower release and less potential for burn. Anytime you return naturally occuring components to the soil I would have to think that's better than man made chemicals.
I know they cost considerably more, but over a period of time they outperform conventionals, with less potential for damage. I understand the higher cost of synthetics may not sell in all areas, but I think anyone who turns their nose up at them is going to miss out. Educate customers on why they're more expensive, and many customers will be willing to pay for them. Especially in a field as competitive as lawn care, anything you can do to seperate yourself from the masses is to your benefit.
Just my thoughts anyway.

Randy

Oganics (bad word) offer very limited water soluable nutrients. Their claim to fame is their ability to provide nutrients to the soil over a long period of time as the microorganisms and chemical reactions in the soil break the materials down into plant usable nutrients. This versus the water soluable chemical fertilizers that hit too hard initially and don't last long enough.

Mike Bradbury
06-11-2003, 01:32 AM
Originally posted by LawnMagic1
I think using organic fert. is a great idea. There are so many benefits...no burn potential, increased microbial activity in the soil to eat away that thatch, less N runoff. But there is the cost issue too if you are trying to get a full lb. of N down.

I'm thinking of using Nitroform 34-0-0 next year. You can put down 2-3 N in one application and not get burned. There is that initial cost again $28/50lb. bag, but hey...your done with granular applications for the year.

If you're going to be "into" organics then you need to lose the 12-12-12 mindset. That number is the immediate, water soluable formula and as such doesn't apply to organics. Remember that organics are MOSTLY physical materials that must be broken down by the soil organisms to become plant usable nutrients.
Despite never putting down even 2lbs of nitrogen (according to the chemical fert standards), by organics always looked noticably better than the chem lawns. ALways greened up earlier in the spring too, despite NO early spring app.
Problem now is there is a LOT of BS "organic" material out there. Just cause something is made of "organic" materials doesn't mean it's worth a hoot as a fert. Lot of science in this too. :o :dizzy:

Mike Bradbury
06-11-2003, 01:34 AM
Originally posted by dan deutekom
I agree with Grassmechanic. It dosn't really matter what the source of the nutrients is. If organics don't harm the environment, then why do the environmentalists come down so hard on farm pastures that are near lakes, or spreading of pig manure on the land, chicken barns and the handling of manure or the runoff from cow herds into streams.......

You're kidding, right? :alien:

Randy J
06-11-2003, 09:12 AM
"Problem now is there is a LOT of BS "organic" material out there. Just cause something is made of "organic" materials doesn't mean it's worth a hoot as a fert. "

Good point Mike. One thing to make note of is the term "organic" simply means "contains the element carbon". It is possible to have a synthetic organic fertilizer. "Natural" is really the term we should be using.

Randy

Grassmechanic
06-11-2003, 09:27 AM
Mike & Randy - let me clarify. We are in the business of growing grass. Grass does not care where it's nitrogen source comes from. We are in the business of manipulating grass for whatever reason, be it a lawn, golf course, etc. To get the proper # of N to grow healthy grass, you will use a lot more organic fert. The basic difference in organic vs. "chemical" fert. is in the amounts of nutrients available. Organics do supply microbes, but only those that have not been processed for safety in handling i.e. Milorganite. Also of note it that some organics have offensive odor. Am I going to use an offensive smelling fertilizer on one of my millionaire accounts? Not if I want to lose the account. If we were to treat only the soil and not the plants, we would be using compost on every lawn and mulching, not bagging, the clippings. We would also be mulching the leaves into the lawn and not removing them, either. This may be realistic for some, but not others. Fertilizer will NOT kill soil microbes, if it did, it would be labeled as a pesticide. BTW, I do have a strong background in chemistry (4 yr) and soil science (2yr).

Mike

Randy J
06-11-2003, 09:53 AM
I don't think anyone is questioning your qualifications Mike, at least I'm certainly not. But as I said, I believe anyone that turns their nose up at organics is going to miss out. You might be surprised at some of those millionaire accounts. A lot of millionaires are conscious of their environment, and Lord knows they can afford to pay more for an organic program. As for the leaves, a lot of people do mulch the leaves and leave them on the ground as opposed to picking them up. I don't think anyone can argue that leaving them is good for the soil. Almost everyone recommends leaving grass clippings lay as they return nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil. This web page; RandyThe Dirt Doctor (http://www.dirtdoctor.com) is pretty good.
As you said though, what works for some won't work for others.

Randy

Mike Bradbury
06-11-2003, 10:59 AM
Originally posted by Grassmechanic
Mike & Randy - let me clarify. We are in the business of growing grass. Grass does not care where it's nitrogen source comes from. We are in the business of manipulating grass for whatever reason, be it a lawn, golf course, etc. To get the proper # of N to grow healthy grass, you will use a lot more organic fert. The basic difference in organic vs. "chemical" fert. is in the amounts of nutrients available. Organics do supply microbes, but only those that have not been processed for safety in handling i.e. Milorganite. Also of note it that some organics have offensive odor. Am I going to use an offensive smelling fertilizer on one of my millionaire accounts? Not if I want to lose the account. If we were to treat only the soil and not the plants, we would be using compost on every lawn and mulching, not bagging, the clippings. We would also be mulching the leaves into the lawn and not removing them, either. This may be realistic for some, but not others. Fertilizer will NOT kill soil microbes, if it did, it would be labeled as a pesticide. BTW, I do have a strong background in chemistry (4 yr) and soil science (2yr).

Mike

Excessive fertilizer salts will inhibit microbial activity. Think CHLORINE might sanitize? Ammonia?

Compost has very little nutritional value in most cases and is not considered a fert as much as a soil amendment. Mulching is the ONLY way to go and if you aren't because you're worried about your million dollar clients, ours don't have a problem with needing LESS fertilizer and improved soil as a result.
I DO mulch MY leaves into my yard but no, it wouldn't be acceptable for most paying customers.
Maybe YOU'RE in the business of manipulating the grass for profit, I make a living taking CARE of the earth and trying to improve the living conditions on OUR planet. The fact that it makes lawns BETTER is just a fringe benefit.
You claim the knowledge, ought to know that stuff.

You don't know as much as you think you do.

Grassmechanic
06-11-2003, 02:52 PM
Originally posted by Mike Bradbury
Excessive fertilizer salts will inhibit microbial activity. Think CHLORINE might sanitize? Ammonia?

Compost has very little nutritional value in most cases and is not considered a fert as much as a soil amendment. Mulching is the ONLY way to go and if you aren't because you're worried about your million dollar clients, ours don't have a problem with needing LESS fertilizer and improved soil as a result.
I DO mulch MY leaves into my yard but no, it wouldn't be acceptable for most paying customers.
Maybe YOU'RE in the business of manipulating the grass for profit, I make a living taking CARE of the earth and trying to improve the living conditions on OUR planet. The fact that it makes lawns BETTER is just a fringe benefit.
You claim the knowledge, ought to know that stuff.

You don't know as much as you think you do.

Mike - you mean to tell me that you don't mow your lawn? that is manipulation. Do you use pollution spewing equipment to maintain people's property? You are a hipocrite. Your letting your own liberal leanings get in way of your brain. If you are putting fertilizer down at the rate that minute amounts of chlorine and ammonia will kill microbes, then I have to wonder who is dumber than the dirt.

Mike

Randy J
06-11-2003, 05:05 PM
Ok, the last post wasn't directed at me, but since I've been more or less agreeing with Mike B., I just thought I'd clarify - I am not a liberal (picture me holding up a peace sign!):cool:

Randy

dan deutekom
06-12-2003, 07:10 PM
Mike

There is a little bit of kidding in my comment but only to show how absurd this whole controversy is.

It seems that it either has to be all "organic/natural" or all synthetic. I think the reality is that there is a middle ground. There is nothing wrong with using man made materials to achieve the desired effects within reason, just as there is nothing wrong in using natural methods. One isn't necessarily better than the other in all cases and quite often using the best attributes of both give the best results. I was just pointing out that just because it is natural it is not always good for the environment and just because it is synthetic it must be bad. I get tired of the hypocrisy of the "Natural" movement trying to dictate how things should be done. It it was up to "naturalists" have no gas powered equipment, electricity and still have a perfectly manicured yard. A lawn is an unnatural mono-culture that requires management that sometimes includes a little bit of "synthetic" help. I also get tired of the marketing hype of "Organic products" because most of the ones I see certainly arn't natural.

I will continue to use my inexpensive bagged fertilizer, and occasional weed spray when required (usually once every 2 years), and I will leave my lawn clippings on the lawn, mulch my leaves on the lawn providing they do not get so thick that they choke the grass, aerate as require and top dress with compost.

If my method of lawn-care offends environmentalist's then so be it. It makes me and my clients happy.

Grassmechanic
06-12-2003, 11:07 PM
Dan - I agree with your point. In fact, as I previously stated, I offer my clients a choice of organic or synthetic, chemical or whatever-you-may-want-to-call-it fertilizer. I let them decide. My beef is with folks that are selling organics as an environmental alternative, when in fact, they contaminate the water from runoff as much as regular fertilizers. I always inform my clients that I support IPM practices, but in the end, it is their decision what to use on their property. In fact, in Michigan, it is against the law to tell clients "this is safe" or "this doesn't harm such and such". And, I do agree, it is absurd where this thread has headed. I'm just trying to pass on to folks what I have learned through years of ongoing scientific research. Maybe I'll be queit and let folks learn on their own.

Mike

dan deutekom
06-12-2003, 11:27 PM
Another term that has been *astardized in the last few years IPM.
Most good horticulturists have been doing IPM since time has begun. It is the environmentalists that try to promote IPM as not using synthetic materials, when it really means to use the most effective and least harmful substance or practice to prevent or treat a particular problem. I guess it is time for me to be quiet too.:rolleyes:

Grassmechanic
06-12-2003, 11:36 PM
Originally posted by dan deutekom
Another term that has been *astardized in the last few years IPM.
Most good horticulturists have been doing IPM since time has begun. It is the environmentalists that try to promote IPM as not using synthetic materials, when it really means to use the most effective and least harmful substance or practice to prevent or treat a particular problem. I guess it is time for me to be quiet too.:rolleyes:

:D :D :D

morturf
06-13-2003, 03:36 PM
Grassmech,

What is it in Milorganite that is bad??? Curious for you source of information.
Mike

Grassmechanic
06-14-2003, 08:35 AM
morturf - where did I say that Milorganite is bad? You need to reread the post. What I DID say, is that milorganite is processed. Milorganite, for those that don't know, is processed human sewage. It has to be heated to kill all the bacteria, e-coli, etc. Then it is treated to remove heavy metals and other pollutants. If some one applies Milorganite thinking that they are adding beneficial bacteria they are wrong, as this product has been "sterilized". My source for my info. is 6 yrs in a university actually studying and testing these and other products.

Mike

masterpiece1
06-15-2003, 09:38 PM
We offer both the organic and regular fertilizer. I haven't had too many customers even ask about the organics. I have a lot of haz-mat training and access to special haz-mat net work. After looking over some of the LD levels of things in my house I think I am more worried about those chemicals than the fert on the lawns. For those trying to save the environment they should stop showing up at the customers house and driving gas powered vehicles. The MSDS on gas would blow you away. Just some thoughts.

SWD
06-16-2003, 08:36 AM
Your right, Milorginate doesn't add beneficial microbes to the soil. What it does do is to provide very active exchange sites for microbial populations to increase.
The USGA Agronomy section has been studying the effects of micrbial populations in sterilized soils (particularly greens mix for putting greens construction) and has reached an interesting conclusion. Sterilized sils will repopulate them selves to pre sterilization levels without any need to add microbes. Kind of shoots a hole in the organics/microbe adding theory.
Another thing, processed fertilizers that are naturally urea based (milorginate, sustaine, turkey/chicken litter) do not, as previously posted, contribute micorhizal or other bacterial to soils. The benefit of some alternate N sourced fertilizers are the micronutirient sources.
This is what provides some benefit to organics and trace package use.
Dan has a good point, a good balance will incorporate synthetic and micronutirent containing organics/trace packages.
One other point, the alleged microbe supplying organic fertilizers, what is the shelf life of this material?
Interesting discussion so far.

Dchall_San_Antonio
08-18-2003, 03:52 AM
I'm new to this list and forum forum but not to the topic on other lists. Also, whether it matters or not, I'm not a lawn pro; but I have been around organic for a while and learned quite a bit that may help some of y'all to understand why they work. Unfortunately I can't be brief on anything, but I'll try, so stand by.

As has been said here, with organic management you feed the soil and not the plants directly. I don't want to demean anyone's education, but if you haven't been in school in the past year or so, some things have changed in the world of soil science and chemistry. I believe the discoveries explain the mystery of organic fertilizer.

In the recent past it had been thought that there were perhaps tens or maybe hundreds of different kinds of microbes in the soil. This reasoning was due to the ability to grow these microbes (fungi and bacteria) in a laboratory petri dish. More recently with DNA analysis, they have discovered there are 25,000 different microbial species in farm and garden soil and up to 45,000 species in forests. What this discovery means is that the ability of the soil microbes to manufacture nearly any organic soil food or disease is nearly unlimited. Obviously there is a limit but for us to comprehend the number of combinations and permutations is nearly unlimited. Whereas when we thought there were only a few or few hundred microbes, we could get a handle on that - and the handle we had did not indicate that there was much of any value in those microbes. Now we know that the microbes have developed a symbiotic relationship with plants that goes to great care to ensure the survival of both plants and microbes.

We also know that microbes need both sugar and protein to live. That's not news. But what is news is that the huge diversity of microbes have the ability to manufacture exactly the proper plant food, deliver it exactly at the proper time, and in the proper amount, all with very little waste. All we have to do is feed the microbes that sugar and protein.

Normally plants get their first level of sugar directly from the plants. Plants manufacture plenty of sugar through photosynthesis. The excess is made available to the microbes that might live inside the plants, on the leaf surfaces, attached to the roots, or in the root zone. Protein historically has been provided by dead animals or plants laying on the surface of the soil. First level microbes provide a decaying or rotting service that feeds protein to all the rest of the soil microbes. It is all done from the surface of the soil. As species after species "exudes" wastes and themselves die, the proteins are exchanged from one species to the next all the way through 25,000 to 45,000 different species. Somewhere along the food chain (now called the soil food web), plant food, medicines, enzymes, growth regulating hormones, and everything the plants need are made available.

That's the basics.

Someone mentioned that compost is not a very good fertilizer. That's exactly correct. Compost is a better source of microbes for soils that need a quick dose of living organic matter. These soils included soils that have been hit with a fungicide, pesticide, or herbicide. It also includes soils that have been underwater for a few days such that many of the formerly living microbes have been killed. The good microbes also need air to survive. So the time to apply compost (in thin layers of 1/3 inch) is after a chemical spill or a flood. But as someone else said, the soil has amazing recovery ability and will restore the species in time. The compost just speeds up that process for your clients. Plus compost should be about the most expensive thing you ever apply in an organic program. It should be a high profit item for y'all, but just not needed that much. Our local compost guru claims to have only used compost twice in his 30 years of manufacturing and selling it - and he says the second time he didn't really need it. That speaks volumes to me.

Someone mentioned that you have to use a lot of organic fertilizer to get any value. If you're measuring pounds of materials, that is also a correct statement. Organic fertilizers are heavier than synthetics. A normal application rate for organic fertilizer is 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. So a 50 pound bag covers somewhere between 5,000 and 2,500 square feet. With synthetics the same coverage would weigh about 10 pounds. However with synthetics you have zero protein. The nitrogen is in the form ready to feed the plants. So the soil microbes get no benefit.

For those of you concerned about the cost, it is not more expensive to apply organic materials. If you'll look at the ingredients of organic fertilizers, you'll see a list of protein sources. They include corn meal, corn gluten meal, alfalfa meal, soy bean meal, canola meal, milo, feather meal, cottonseed meal, and most other materials commonly found in animal or dog food. You can get that stuff at the feed store in 50 pound bags for about $5. Buy in huge bulk and you can find it for half of that or less. Compare that price to the same materials sold in commercially marked bags in the same stores for $30 for 30 pounds. Maybe you professionals cannot apply a product marked "FEED" on a lawn, but we homeowners sure can. I use whole ground corn meal.

If you want to test this yourself, dump a half a bowl of dog food on a turf somewhere where the grass is not otherwise fertilized. Wet it down so it melts into the soil and the squirrels don't run away with it. Then come back in a month and see what happened. Dog food is too expensive in bulk, plus it has sodium in it. Don't need that. Shoot, even used coffee grounds make a great fertilizer. Lots of low budget organic gardeners get free coffee grounds from Starbucks and other savvy coffee shops.

Someone mentioned Milorganite. Several years ago they sent out a bad batch or two that had some heavy metals in it. Now they test the biosolids before the Milorganite folks get it to ensure there are no metals. Then the sludge is incinerated at over 1,000 degrees to turn it into the near ceramic quality you see in the bag. It is pretty sterile. And I don't like the smell either.

Someone else mentioned manure smelling bad. Well, duh! Manure is supposed to be composted so it doesn't smell bad. After the microbes get through with it, compost smells fresh like a forest floor. It smells incredible! But uncomposted manure has NO place in organic gardening (IMHO).

Someone mentioned organic fertilizers contaminating runoff waters. If it is a proper protein based fertilizer, it does not run off or contaminate anything. Manures might, but they have a different role when properly used. They are for growing microbes, not direct fertilizing.

Here's a list of things an organic program can do that no chemical can do. The beneficial microbes in the soil do the following.
1. Decompose plant residues and manure to humus.
2. Retain nutrients in humus.
3. Combine nitrogen and carbon to prevent nutrient loss.
4. Suppress disease.
5. Produce plant growth regulators.
6. Develop soil structure, tilth, and water penetration/retention.
7. Clean up chemical residues.
8. Shift soil pH to neutral and keep it there.
9. Search out and retrieve nutrients in distant parts of the soil.
10. Decompose thatch and keep it from returning.
11. Control nitrogen supply to the plants according to need.
12. Pull minerals out of inorganic soil components for plants.
13. Provide the exact chemical nutrients to the plant that the plant has evolved with rather than man's cheapest chemical approximation.
14. Provide exactly the required quantity of nutrients that the plant needs.
15. Provide the nutrients at exactly the right time that the plant needs them.

No chemical can do any of that. To be fair, no single microbe can do all of that either. In fact, it could be that it takes 100 different species, one working right after the other, to do any one item in the above list - sort of like a microbiological assembly line. But at least it's real easy to get all the right microbes. The biology of the soil is very complicated.

At the same time, many chemicals inhibit the microbe's natural abilities to do these things. Herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides are all designed to kill various biological life. As a byproduct, they often kill off the beneficial microbes that are doing 1 through 15 above. Any break in the assembly line can interrupt the process, damage the mini ecosystem, and lessen the benefit of the organic methods.

Organic fertilizers can give every bit as successful looking a lawn as a synthetically fertilized one. And I enjoy letting my 5-year old barefoot daughter help daddy through out the corn meal.

heritage
08-18-2003, 09:10 PM
Well said sir.
Pete

Sustained Horticulture is the Future.

GLAN
08-18-2003, 10:38 PM
OK.........
I have just been schooled.......:)


Not sure if I want to get into this discussion?


Think I should. Just have to collect my thoughts and find this thread later on...........;)

GroundKprs
08-19-2003, 02:14 AM
"So a 50 pound bag covers somewhere between 5,000 and 2,500 square feet. With synthetics the same coverage would weigh about 10 pounds.....
For those of you concerned about the cost, it is not more expensive to apply organic materials."

For A DIY consumer, cost is perhaps similar for organics and synthetics. However, as anyone in business can recognize, it is a lot more expensive to use an organic program. Cannot transport 5x the bulk for the same cost, can't store 5x the bulk for the same cost. And sure as heck can't get it spread at the same cost! Labor cost to spread 5 tons instead of one ton would be quite a dramatic increase, and a man is not going to be able to cover a daily route that can be done with synthetics.

dan deutekom
08-19-2003, 06:53 PM
Glan:

You have just be schooled...............But is it the truth or just enviromentalist propaganda? Have to admit if I were a teacher I would give it a A+ as an essay even if it was one sided. Didn't address weed control, insect control or fungus problems. Ever notice that the best growing grass tends to have fungus problems?

Randy J
08-19-2003, 07:07 PM
Actually Dan, if I'm not mistaken, having "the best growing grass" is a key component of IPM. Weak grass is much more susceptible to pests of all kinds. I'm far from an expert on grass, and although a believer in organics I'm smart enough to know they aren't the only answer to every problem, but you're just plain wrong here dude.

Randy

GLAN
08-19-2003, 09:00 PM
LOL Dan thanks.............You snapped me out of that trance......;)

You have to admit that was one of the best explanations of organics. Now do I buy into it?

OK allow me to express my opnion and what I know.

"Organics" is exempt from the EPA laws and regulations. Because it is considered "Organic" Where I am being a pesticide applicator I can apply "organics" without the proper notification. The county east of me, they require that a pesticide applicator applying organics have certification in organics, a one day seminar.

Now being a licensed pesticide applicator, by law I have to apply by the label and use the proper precautions with handling and applying the product. We must do this to apply legaly. We also do this for the FACT that all the chemicals registered with the EPA have gone through extensive testing. We know what the risks and reactions are.

Through the EPA registration process the chemicals is tested for it's affect environmentaly. We know for FACT what these chemicals do and how they do it. We know a chemical as Dursban does not move verticaly in the soil. We know it moves horizontaly. We know that Dylox moves Verticaly down a couple inches to where the target pest is located. We know what contact fungicides do and how they react, as well as weed killers and so on. We also know for a FACT how the chemical breaks down and what it's after life is once the application has been performed.

We know all this because of the FACT that provided the product has an EPA registration number we know that some $2 million dollars has been spent in research of the product.

We also know that a vigorous healthy turf aids in the utilization of the products and the filtration process.

WE KNOW ALL THESE THINGS BECAUSE SCIENCE TELLS US SO.

What we don't know is the affects of prolonged exposure to organics is. We do not know how they move through the soil. We do not know how they break down in the environment or if there is a prolonged residue. OK, I know that this part of my explanation is short. That is because WE DON'T KNOW ANYTHING. Science has not told us these things. Because they are Organic and to be presumed safe?

There are products under my kitchen sink that have a label of WARNING, where as lawn chemicals I use only have CAUTION. And I am supposed to be believe that organics or home remedies are safer and more environmentaly friendly because they are called "Organic Products"

I'll stick with the stuff that WE KNOW about. Because they have been tested. Not by folklore or myth.

dan deutekom
08-19-2003, 11:12 PM
Randy J:

I should have put best growing grass in quotations. It is just an observation that some of the lushest nicest lawns tend to have dollar spot, or fusarium or other fungal problem due to the moisture they receive. Treatment isn't needed because it isn't enough to cause any real harm but it is there. And that is an important part of IPM. To know what is there, and to know when and what to do about it (if anything). I still state organics can have an important role in lawn care, but without chemicals lawns as we know them today are bye-bye.

Randy J
08-19-2003, 11:30 PM
Sorry Dan, I missed the irony. However, I do disagree with your position on synthetics. I established and kept a nice lawn in San Antonio, TX only using organics. But as I said, synthetics do have their place.

Randy

dan deutekom
08-20-2003, 12:15 AM
Randy:

I guess my point is that in the 30 odd years that I have been in this business I have established and kept nice lawns using organics, synthetics, combination of both, and nothing at all but mowing. My point is that IPM is the answer and that uses every tool that you have when it is needed whether it be organic, synthetic or physical and none when not. A good horticulturist cares about the environment or else they wouldn't do what they do. But chemicals are not necessarily bad and organics are not necessarily good. All are tools of the trade with risks and advantages and we must choose wisely when we use any of them.

I just wish people wouldn't be on one side of the fence or the other because there is room for both.

Dan

Dchall_San_Antonio
08-20-2003, 04:03 AM
Originally posted by GroundKprs
For A DIY consumer, cost is perhaps similar for organics and synthetics. However, as anyone in business can recognize, it is a lot more expensive to use an organic program. Cannot transport 5x the bulk for the same cost, can't store 5x the bulk for the same cost. And sure as heck can't get it spread at the same cost! Labor cost to spread 5 tons instead of one ton would be quite a dramatic increase, and a man is not going to be able to cover a daily route that can be done with synthetics.
This is a good point. Add volume to the concern about weight. I do have a friend in Canada who's a greens-keeper for several par 3 golf course. He read what y'all just read last year and went organic using corn meal. So far it seems to have solved all his problems, but it hasn't even been a year yet. We'll see how it goes, but he's absolutely thrilled. He writes me every week with pictures. He applied corn meal one time and that's all so far. He isn't complaining about anything.

You have just be schooled...............But is it the truth or just enviromentalist propaganda? Have to admit if I were a teacher I would give it a A+ as an essay even if it was one sided. Didn't address weed control, insect control or fungus problems. Ever notice that the best growing grass tends to have fungus problems?
I've never been called an environmentalist before. I'm LOL! Whether what I said is the truth or not will remain open to question I suppose. I appreciate the A+ - just wish I had learned to write before I was 28.

Fungus problems are addressed with corn meal, believe it or not. The Texas A&M University at Stephenville did the research on that. They found that using corn meal against the common fungal diseases on peanut crops had the same effect as crop rotation. For those of you who don't recognize what that means...it means the farmers don't have to rotate out of peanuts and into grass for a year or two while the field recovers from disease. It means they can plant peanuts year after year if they use corn meal against the fungus. It also turns out that the same fungi that attack lawns are the ones in peanuts. Corn meal is a preventative and a cure for lawns with disease. The problem with corn meal, if you want to call it a problem, is that it takes 3 weeks to show results. But you can rely in on it. It works every day of the year, in the heat or cold (above 50 degrees F), rain or shine, day or night. Show me any chemical fungicide that works under all conditions on all diseases.

Corn meal is revealing itself to be the most important discovery in organic farming in the past year. Corn meal works by bringing another disease in to combat the first disease. A fungus in the Trichoderma (try-ko-DER-mah) family likes to grow on corn meal. The Trichoderma fungus attacks the cell walls of the disease causing fungus which causes it to die.

Insect control often depends on the insect but beneficial nematodes are coming into the forefront as THE insect control for grub worms, flea beetles, fleas, ticks (in the winter), ants, chiggers, noseums, and some others that I'm drawing a blank on their names. Beneficial nematodes are the ones that attack insects, not plants. They come on a blue sponge that gets wrung out in a bucket of water and then you spray with the water. The nematodes work by bringing a disease to the insects living in the soil. The insects die in about 24-48 hours from the disease. In the mean time the nematodes lay eggs in the insect and move on. The eggs hatch and the young nematodes actually feed on the disease organism inside the dead insect. Gory but effective. The disease only affects insects, not mammals, birds, or fish.

Weed control is handled by deep, infrequent watering and by mowing. Deep (an hour or two at a time) and infrequent (no more than once a week) watering allows the surface of the soil to dry out completely. Shallow rooted weeds die off while the deeper rooted grasses continue to get water from the depths. And if the grass is mowed at the highest setting on the deck, the grass itself will shade out sun loving weeds as well as the weed seeds that need sun to sprout. Some grasses, notably bermuda, bent, and centipede, must be mowed at 1/2 inch so they don't work with this, but when mowed at 1/2 inch, those are pretty dense turf and actually provide the same weed preventing benefit. Tall grass also has deeper, drought resistant, roots. And it supposedly uses less water due to the increased number of stomata on the long blades. Apparently when the stomata get all their CO2 early in the day (from all the extra stomata in the tall grass) they close up the stomata early and thus retain the moisture they would have "exhaled" by leaving the stomata open longer. Good theory anyway.

What we don't know is the affects of prolonged exposure to organics is. We do not know how they move through the soil. We do not know how they break down in the environment or if there is a prolonged residue. OK, I know that this part of my explanation is short. That is because WE DON'T KNOW ANYTHING. Science has not told us these things. Because they are Organic and to be presumed safe?
No offense meant but I gotta laugh at some of this. I've been repeatedly exposed to organic food like corn meal for 50 years now. Science has studied it extensively and found all the protein sources I listed in my first post to be safe for humans and other mammals to eat day after day for decades at a time. They have also studied the decay of organic materials. There would be no reason for you to have read about it, though, so I'm not faulting anyone for not knowing. Organic stuff decays in the soil. After a time it disappears completely. Otherwise we'd up up to our asses in dinosaur sheeit and bones and stuff. Y'all might be interested to know that if you put a dead cow into a hot (150 degree F) compost pile, the cow will completely disappear in 4 days. No bones, hair, skin, horns, hooves, NOTHING after 4 days. So what happens is the bacteria and fungi in the soil digest the animal protein and turn it into microbe poop. Other microbes come along and eat the microbe poop as well as the dead microbes that ate the first stuff. And there's at least 25,000 species doing this. So the residue is microbe poop which seems to be safe or we wouldn't be here.

But is is absolutely correct to be skeptical of the word "organic." Not all organic materials are safe. Some extreme examples are rattlesnake venom, hemlock and other alkaloids, micotoxins, and even alcohol is an organic poison (which must be diluted with water before consumption!!).

I'm not going to do any more tit-for-tat on this subject. But I thought there was enough interest in learning a little more than what had been posted already. I will give y'all a few websites for those who are interested in further reading. I'll also warn you that if you "go organic," you will have to UNLEARN some things you know to be the truth through your experience and training. I know because I used chemical ferts and chem-icides for 40 years before changing.

This site gives the NPK of various organic materials. I'm not sure you can directly compare the N of organic material to the N of Miracle Gro. Feathers have a ton of N but it takes for-freakin'-ever to decay.
http://www.primalseeds.org/npk.htm

This one is a free copy of the Soil Biology Primer put out by the USDA. Excellent reading with links to pictures. It's the entire book.
http://soils.usda.gov/sqi/soil_quality/soil_biology/soil_biology_primer.html

This next one is an entire book first published in 1943 and now on the Internet. Some of these older scientists who were discredited are now being found to have hit the nail on the head. You might have to go through a FREE registration process to see the book. You have to promise not to reproduce it and sell it.
http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010138balfour/010138toc.html

This is from the University of Western Australia. Easy reading and covers a lot of ground.
http://ice.agric.uwa.edu.au/soils/soilhealth/process/index.htm

This is from our Bureau of Land Management. Did you know that well managed rangeland has more tonnage of living organisms underground than on top?
http://www.blm.gov/nstc/soil/index.html

I've got about 50 more sites but I have to stop somewhere. I know some of y'all are thinking, "should have stopped about 10 paragraphs ago."

GLAN
08-20-2003, 08:11 AM
Dchall


Interesting stuff

I for one am glad that you posted. When it comes to organics I am but an infant.

I honestly would like to alter my approach to lawn care. Just one problem. Unless there is an EPA registration number for every organic I am going to be extremely skeptical. In addition there has not been enough published that I have read that would change my mind completely. A few articles and I will look through the links you provided.

I am also voicing my opinion based on others that I know and the experience that they have had. In addition to information I acquire through an association that I am a member of.

Am I not getting to see the entire picture? perhaps. Am I not getting all the information available out there to make a more education decision on my part? Perhaps.

The other problem that I would be faced with is attempting to switch over our program for all our clients. And try to convince them that the showcase lawns they have now will deteriorate to some degree before the organic approach is fully affective. That sentence pertains to insect and weed control. The other problem I have is the height of cut that was mentioned. Nothing was said as an optimal height for wee supression. Normaly in summer I cut at 3" this year it is 2.75" for reason of the need for the soils be able to dry. and due to irregularties in the level of the soil the machines can nearly scalp, that is at any height. It is those situations that weeds become more prevelent and in need of synthetic control. Another aspect regarding the height of cut is that I am finding that more of our customers over the recent years are younger and with children, they lead active lives and do request a shorter cut. For me to go to 4" or more cut is not likely. A time where we cut at 3.25" was hard for many to deal with. though in reality it was the best the lawns looked and the best it handled stress and weed, fungal problems.

Like I said I will look over the material you provided. Will make a determination of my own. For the reason that there is an alternative method to the way we handle lawn care.

DUSTYCEDAR
08-20-2003, 08:36 AM
i have been using more organics but at the end of the day it smells like i rolled in a cesspool and the lawn smells for a week after application. other than that i have been getting good results

Randy J
08-20-2003, 08:48 AM
Dan, I agree completely with your last post, just that for me, "natural" organics are the way to go.

Glan, I'm not sure why your lawns would suffer until the organics kicked in. I would think you'd see no deterioration at all.

Dchall, very good posts. You seem to know your stuff about organics. I just moved from San Antonio about 4 months ago. One of the things I miss the most is listening to Bob Webster on AM550, on the weekend mornings. Do you listen to his show? He's a big proponent of organics, and where I first learned about them.

Randy

GLAN
08-20-2003, 09:45 AM
Why would my laws deteriorate?


Lets take Grub control and the use of Milky Spore. That is the most widely know product.

For Milky Spore to become effective it has to develope it's population in the soil, a season is to short. It has been told to me that up to 5 years is needed. In addition the Milky Spore only tragets one species of Grub.

Also the transition would effect the control or supression of Fungus, a season again is to short.

Dchall_San_Antonio
08-20-2003, 03:00 PM
I think you are all wise to be wary. I was just trying to add the background info that some of you clearly were looking for but didn't have.

I'm self taught on organics, but who isn't. You don't just go to college to learn about organic gardening. It ain't taught. Ever since WWII when the explosives industry found itself needing a way to stay in business, the government, universities, and industry have worked together to ensure that synthetic chemicals were sustained at NUMBER 1 in front of the consumer's eye. So to learn about organic gardening, you really have to do your own research.

I believe there will never be as much science behind organic gardening as there is with chemicals. The reason for that is there's no money in it. Corn meal and alfalfa are literally dirt cheap in bulk. A sack of dirt and a sack of corn meal cost the same. There are thousands of farmers growing it and thousands of mills grinding it. Bayer, Ortho, and Monsanto cannot compete so they market in their own way through the government and universities. That's my government conspiracy theory. ;)

I do listen to Bob Webster. He's good but he's in the business of selling expensive brand-name products at 6x what the basic ingredients cost at retail. I believe organic turf can cost the same and look the same as synthetic fertilized and maintained turf. In fact, I also believe that the second year the costs drop dramatically for organic due to the build up of beneficial microbes in the soil that protect the plants from insects and disease. Some of you are leaning toward organic lawn maintenance. Some of you have made the leap. Different states have widely differing regulations governing what you can do with a bag of stuff, so some will find it easier to make a move.

Milky spore disease is being pushed to the back of the rack in favor of beneficial nematodes, at least in the South. As I said, the BN work overnight against a host of insects. I should say that you need a host of BN to work against a host of insects. The little blue sponges have a variety of BN to serve you. BN must be kept refrigerated before use and they do have a 90 day shelf life.

Of course I live in the heat, but I'll give you a sample of my personal year long program for organic turf maintenance. Everyone is different so you can either adjust or toss my thoughts out completely. The point of me doing this is to show you that there is not much in the way of extra money in organic turf maintenance. My situation is I live in San Antonio, TX. My raw soil is crushed limestone rubble (pure white as the driven snow) from 0-18 inches deep on top of solid limestone. My neighborhood is in full shade of live oak canopy that spreads for a mile or more in all directions. The dominant grass here is St Augustine species. Bermuda is choked out by the St Aug as is buffalo grass. Bermuda can be grown if mowed at 1/2 to 1 inch. Fungal problems usually scare away the zoysia growers. One week of fungus in zoysia gives you a 5-10 year recovery period.

January - do nothing
February - fertilize with corn meal at 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Insect control with beneficial nematodes. (our last freeze is in March sometime).
March - mow/mulch the spring leaves into the turf as needed.
April - mow as needed at 3 inches plus (always, Always, ALWAYS).
May - mow as needed.
June - mow as needed.
July - fertilize again with corn meal at the rate above.
August - mow as needed.
Sept - preemergent control with corn GLUTEN meal at 40 pounds per 1,000.
Oct - mow as needed.
Nov - yes, we still mow as needed.
Dec - mow/mulch the autumn leaves into the turf.

You'll notice that there are not many high profit months there. July and Sept are the only months where you both mow and fertilize. The reason I fert in Feb is that we have real grass growing, not just weeds, by late March. Organic fert needs to be in the soil and working three weeks before the soil temp gets above 50 degrees for it to start to work.

Notice also that there is no money to be made in aeration or dethatching. $:cry:$ With a happy microherd under the soil surface, thatch is literally eaten up by the microbes; and they also dig millions of aeration holes for you. Water penetration is much improved with a combination of deep watering and organic fertilizer.

So due to the lack of paying work involved, I don't see a wide acceptance in the professional turf management industry for organic care. You can do it but I would think you'd be embarrassed to charge more for it, or even the same, when you do less work. You'll have to make your money on mowing, leaves, and snow removal. I'm trying to be practical about this and provide as much education as I can for y'all to absorb and process. I'm certainly not going to come through the screen and twist anyone's arm to go organic. I just would like to answer a few questions and correct some fallicies I see here and abouts.

i have been using more organics but at the end of the day it smells like i rolled in a cesspool and the lawn smells for a week after application. other than that i have been getting good results If you do what I do you never touch anything that smells remotely bad. I compost rats, squirrels, and possums with no hint of smell. My dog can't even find his own kill in my compost pile. If your organic materials smell bad, you'll lose customers. There are three reasons why most homeowners shy away from organic materials. One is the cost of the commercial brand names. I've solved that by shopping at the feed store. The second reason is the smell. They've bought manure at some time in the past and were embarrassed for weeks as every watering brought back the smell of fresh horse hockey. Spend the money and get real compost, not fresh manure. Third is that they once killed their lawn by over applying compost (or worse, manure). They were embarrassed again by having a dead lawn when everyone else had green lawn. Compost goes on at 1 cubic yard per 1,000 square feet MAXIMUM. Even then you have to sweep it off the grass blades to keep from shading out the grass. But I also think you don't need compost if you fertilize with organics regularly.

GroundKprs
08-20-2003, 07:01 PM
This is interesting info for warm season grasses. But where is there a study on cool season turf? Since soil temps must be elevated for organics to function in food delivery, a purely organic approach to management of C3 grasses does not seem practical.

For those concerned about EPA registrations, fertilizers do not require registration, And corn gluten meal (used as a preemergent) has been exempted from EPA regs. However, CGM is a root inhibitor, and may have the same negative effect on turfgrass roots that most chemical pre-ems have.

The use of natural enemies or parasitic organisms is not new. Been studied in this country for over 100 years. The problem with this approach is that the enemy or parasite must have a population of the pest to survive itself. And most things in nature do not ravage their life support like humans. So a natural control, using enemies or parasites, requires an acceptance of cyclical activity of the pest: as pest population builds, the predator organism population also grows, bringing the pest under control. But as the pest population is decreased, the predator population also decreases (food supply reduced), and the pest is allowed to prosper again. Using natural controls will never eliminate your pest - but then chemical controls never will either, LOL.

dan deutekom
08-20-2003, 11:55 PM
Nothing to add at the moment but this is a great thread and kudo's to all that participate. :)

Dchall_San_Antonio
08-21-2003, 02:45 AM
Originally posted by GroundKprs
This is interesting info for warm season grasses. But where is there a study on cool season turf? Since soil temps must be elevated for organics to function in food delivery, a purely organic approach to management of C3 grasses does not seem practical.Not sure what C3 is but it seems to reference cool season grasses. Be gentle with me, I'm new here. :D

I'm not calling my post a study. I'm just saying what works for me on one lawn. It would help if the pros using organics on 50 lawns would weigh in. And since there is interest, how about all y'all Yankees weighing in, too.

For those concerned about EPA registrations, fertilizers do not require registration, And corn gluten meal (used as a preemergent) has been exempted from EPA regs. However, CGM is a root inhibitor, and may have the same negative effect on turfgrass roots that most chemical pre-ems have.This would be a great topic for people with experience using CGM on 50 or so lawns for 5 years.

The use of natural enemies or parasitic organisms is not new. Been studied in this country for over 100 years. The problem with this approach is that the enemy or parasite must have a population of the pest to survive itself. And most things in nature do not ravage their life support like humans. So a natural control, using enemies or parasites, requires an acceptance of cyclical activity of the pest: as pest population builds, the predator organism population also grows, bringing the pest under control. But as the pest population is decreased, the predator population also decreases (food supply reduced), and the pest is allowed to prosper again. Using natural controls will never eliminate your pest - but then chemical controls never will either, LOL. I like to test out theories by checking at the limits of applicability if I can. Here's an example testing a low limit and a high limit. If I drop one coyote into a fenced herd of sheep, the single coyote might be able to leave some sheep alive for the future. What happens at the other limit of the scale? What happens if I drop 10,000 coyotes into a herd of sheep? My guess is there will be no survivors inside the fence within one month. Once the sheep are gone (in about a day), there's no more food and the coyotes will starve too. This is more like the example of using beneficial nematodes or milky spore. You're dropping millions of microbes to kill maybe 12 grubs per square foot.

GroundKprs
08-22-2003, 01:41 AM
It's interesting to see people have success with plants. But the library is full of misleading books written by just such people. Because one has success in his own speck of the planet does not mean that this is the answer for the rest of the planet. It is better to depend on research that deals with many environments.

For example, NTEP (National Turfgrass Evaluation Program) tests grasses at numerous land grant universities across the country - these tests are graded locally and results are published. Want to know about a certain cultivar of a certain turf species? Just go to www.ntep.org and find the answer.

Another: I've seen numerous discussions on control of ground ivy (creeping charlie) over the years. Eric Kohler just finished his grad work at Purdue, doing a study of control of ground ivy. And he didn't just pluck ground ivy out of someone's yard. He collected samples from 8 states and Canada - and found that ground ivies vary dramatically depending on where they are from. He found that a combo of 2,4-D and triclopyr was the most consistent - just the combo I found ten years ago, but Eric's scientific study carries a lot more weight than my success. I'll trust Eric's observations much more than the guy who claims his dog's urine controls ground ivy, LOL.

If there is really going to be advancement in organic landscape care, there has to be some real research done. Not just hype from sellers of "organic" products, or chest beating by radical tree huggers. And that means organic people putting their money where their mouth is, in funding research, just like many other ideas were proven (or disproved) in the past. A practitioner may participate is such a research program, but if someone says he does something fabulous on 50 lawns, I'll clap for him, but will probably not seriously weigh converting my program to match his.

And anyone who is seriously into turf management, whether with organics or synthetics, will always say that the best pest control is a healthy turf. And of course, there is the number one rule of plant care, that few follow: "Always put the right plant in the right place." People are aghast when you tell them to start over with a lawn - "$1800, you're crazy!" But they'll spend hundreds a year, plus all the work, and still have a sick lawn, LOL.

And D_S_A, C3 refers to the metabolism of cool season grasses growing in the USA, and C4 refers to warm season grasses. In grossly simple terms, they actually make their food differently. Lot easier to type C3 or C4, instead of "warm season" or "cool season" all the time. And there is a big difference in managing C3 and C4 turf.

Randy J
08-22-2003, 09:40 AM
Simply put, I think anyone who refuses to consider an organic program is going to miss out. More and more people want to do better for the environment. And no matter what, there can be no doubt that natural organics are better for the environment. I'm not saying that synthetics are necessarily bad, but that natural organics are better. Keep in mind I'm saying for the environment. And while I believe organics can work better or at least as well as synthetics, there is still some debate concerning the vitality of the lawn itself. The only way you'll know if organics will work better for you, is to try it. However, I do see an organic program as an awesome chance to upsell. Doesn't mean you have to use all organics on all lawns, or that you have to use organics at all for that matter, just that as more and more customers appreciate it, we'll all need to be able to offer it or lose out. I'd be willing to bet a good LCO offering organic programs will be able to take some work from a good LCO that refuses to offer organics, anywhere in the US.

Randy

GLAN
08-22-2003, 09:48 AM
Thanks Jim, nicely written. I like your comment about putting your money where your mouth is.


I have advocate volunteers for the environment knocking on my door a couple times a year asking for donation to help their cause. For a couple years they have been a proponent for the abolishment of landscape pesticides.

Every time they came to my door I asked them for proof, show me the scientific study proving your accusation. All they could show is a couple news articles. I would again ask for the documented proof. (by this time I becoming enraged) I would quickly run up to the office and bring down a folder of copies of published studies and hand it to them. Do you or any of your organization of any scientific studies to back up your cause? Nope not one. I actualy had one kid hand me all the paper work he had and tell me to throw it out, he quit.

GLAN
08-22-2003, 10:10 AM
I am sure that many of you know, or at least I would hope that you know of the hot news item that "Breast Cancer" was at it's highest rates on Long Island, New York. And that the undisputed cause was landscape pesticides.

Oh yeah. For years lawn chemicals were causing "Breast Cancer" and "Asthma" in children. It was a well know fact, everyone talked about it. Political figures road the band wagon for reelection on the cause to ban pesticides. News media drove their ratings up at the expense of lawn care profesionals.

New State environmental laws were passed and regulations tightened. Chemicals were removed from the market. Prenotification was enacted. Chaos and mayhem was strewn throughout the industry and officials everywhere.

Protests in the streets, at government offices. The news media covering the topic from every slanted angle to inflame the topic.

And all this based on an accusation. Not on any true fact. Not one dime was spent to prove. But it must be true cause it's in the news and politicians don't lie.

The GREEN INDUSTRY mobilized en mass to fight for their livelihood. We staged protests on the steps of the State Capitol and local Government offices. We hired lawyers and advocates to be our legal warriors for our cause.

We would not stand to be accused of such malicious slander. For we knew the FACTS. We had an entire INDUSTRY with us. We had millions of dollars spent by chemical companies and Universities, also Government Grant money used to test, study and probe the issues facing us. Years and thousands of hours spent. Thousands of pages written documenting the findings.

A FACT FINDING MISSION was enacted. The TRUTH would be told.

As it turns out. NOT ONE SHRED OF PROOF was found to justify the accusation that pesticides was a direct cause of "Breast Cancer" or "Asthma"

Scientific study proved point blank the indisputed truth that pesticides has no direct affect. After years of Hype in the media, all it got was one small paragraph on page 18. This revelation did not get front page, nor was it ever mentioned on the 6 o'clock news.

In the end it was then found that an area of New Jersey actualy reported the highest incident of "Breast Cancer" and you want to know why?

It is because that particular area of New Jersey is affluent. More women do the necessary screening for the disease. In that context the higher rate of incident means nothing, only for the fact that more women do and have access to the necessary testing.

Dchall_San_Antonio
08-22-2003, 12:38 PM
Once again, Randy J makes a great point that hits the heart of the original poster's question. If you refuse to offer an organic alternative, you might be missing out on the upsell. I'm not exactly convinced it is an upsell or just an alternative, but it is missing out on a client(s).

The people who want organic turf are quite often Volvo driving, quiche eating, chess playing, salad eating, hairy armpitted nursing mothers, Whole Foods shopping, tree huggers. You don't have to like them or what they believe in. You don't have to believe in it yourself. But the fact is they are an economic force to recon with. If you choose to ignore them and their money, that's between you and your family. All these people want you to do is stop delivering synthetic ferts and synth-icides and start spreading organic fertilizers. And they will LOVE you for it. But don't EVER make a mistake and spray a chemical or you will be toast. If they are willing to pay for it, is that so hard?

Somewhere it has been discussed that the organic materials weigh a lot more to get the same benefit. The large scale logistics of the extra weight management for 100 clients might just be a reason to charge more for organic yard maintenance. For example if you have 100 organic clients with 1 acre each, you will need 1,000 bags (50,000 pounds) of corn meal or alfalfa to fertilize once (10 bags to the acre on average). I know a baker who uses a lot less than that and he has a mill to grind his own corn flour from whole corn kernels.

But if you are going to offer an organic alternative, you absolutely must stick with it. In order to do that, you need to know (with some authority) what to do, what products to use and not use, when, and how much. It helps to know why you're doing it so you can explain it to them if they need help. There will be times when all their neighbors will be applying some product from Home Depot and they will think you should be applying something. You need to explain to them that you are deliberately NOT applying that product (1) because it is not organic, and (2) more importantly because it is not called for in their situation (organic turf seems to take care of a lot of its own issues).

I happen to think organic turf management is completely hassle free once you know what you're doing. Application timing is rarely an issue, amounts are not critical, pre- or post-application watering is rarely an issue, smell is not an issue (once you realize that manure ALWAYS smells and you stop even thinking about it), and cost really isn't an issue (cost is about the same or less for organic). Pest and disease diagnosis is never trivial but there are only a few organic products that work well against a wide spectrum of pests, so pest management is relatively easy. Plus if you stop spraying with the -icides, the wasps will return to help you out.

Oops, I said wasps. Many people want you to poison wasps. Well, the organic people won't. They will probably already understand that wasps are the first line of defense against all caterpillars (including web worms and tomato hornworms) and spiders (including black widow and brown recluse). If you leave the wasps alone, a balance will be reached where spiders and caterpillars will live in much reduced numbers but won't be gone forever. Wasps are part of your hassle free organic offer. You might offer wasp nest relocation services (extra - by the hour).

From my year or two of surfing gardening websites and forums, I think I have learned a few things. One thing I've recognized right away in my short time here is that this lawnsite.com is the premier site for industry professionals to learn about their business. You guys and gals have developed an excellent professional resource library for yourselves. Imagine life without this resource. :dizzy: Another thing I think I've learned is that there is an opportunity waiting for y'all with the ability and willingness to fulfill it. Many of you are ready to make the jump but you lack a few pieces of the organic puzzle. I'm convinced if you start helping each other to learn about organics instead of spending all your energy circling the wagons around Lesco, there will be more and more money in if for you. And when that happens, even Lesco will start selling corn meal in 1,000 pound lots. Just watch!

GLAN
08-22-2003, 12:45 PM
Circling the wagons around Lesco


That's cute..............;)

dan deutekom
08-22-2003, 07:03 PM
All of the last 6 or 7 posts make excellent points and I really like Jim's post. I need good proof before I commit to any new method whether organic, chemical or mechanical. Then I try it in my circumstances and if it makes sense for my operation I use it.

dvmcmrhp52
08-22-2003, 10:14 PM
Lets see......The chemical companies have LOTTTTS of money to make facts,They have LOTTTS of money for lobbiests,Their in the business of making money from selling chemicals......I think they have some incentive for providing information to back up their point of view.
I'm not so sure the EPA is the organization I want to put my trust in.
Synthetic ferts are cheaper,easier and more profitable to use for lco,s.
I'll let you all talk to some farmers that have constant sickness.
We as humans think we can improve on what nature has been doing for eons but this old earth has done quite well without our "help."
I'm not a tree hugger or a liberal,in fact I'm about as conservative as they come,But dig up a customers front lawn that has been chemmed for years and tell me how many earthworms you find?
Why?
Not looking for any argument,just like to learn more and get other views.
My kids deserve that much.

timturf
08-23-2003, 07:16 PM
More interesting material to read!

What is an organic fert?

Who's diffinetion are we using?

I apply urea 46-0-0, and claim I'm using an organic fert.

heritage
08-23-2003, 09:12 PM
urea is a synthetic organic....which is a chemical. yes it has carbon so you are telling the truth when you tell your customers that you are using organic fert. I think many lawn care companies do what you do. if i were to sell a synthetic organic to my customers i would use nitroform 38-0-0 as it is in my opinion a better product with better long term results than 46-0-0.
(it feeds the soil too.)

Pete

timturf
08-24-2003, 11:39 AM
Yes, you are correct pete!

I don't use urea, but was trying to make a point!

Somebody needs to define organic fertilizer!
Is it anything containing carbon?
Is it anything of plant, animal, or mineral orgin?
Do we allow industrial manipulation?
Do we recognize that the ecological profile of a material --
the effect it has on the soil health and evironment, is more important than whether it was dug from ground or an industrial by product.

Remember, the plant doesn't know the difference!

"feed the soil, not the plant"

What is an organic fertilizer???
It can mean differtent things to different people!

Dchall_San_Antonio
08-25-2003, 02:06 AM
Good point about urea. Unfortunately the government has already defined organic fertilizer for us. From what I'm told, synthetically manufactured urea is not allowed to be used by certified organic farmers. Urea taken from animal urine is allowed but who could afford it? The chemicals are identical, but one is allowed and one is not. Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger. Lots of people are using synthetically derived urea in their "natural" programs which are not certified organic.

Another related point, if you are giving "organic lawn care," do you have to comply with any federal organic regs for certification? I think not but I certainly haven't read the entire organic guidelines. If your clients were selling their produce as organic, then that would be different, but they're just enjoying their grass for the most part.

I disagree that the plant does not know the difference between chemical and organic fertilization. The plants have evolved with living soil microbes providing external digestion for at least 200 million years. I'll keep to the short version of this essay, but the way the symbiotic interaction seems to go between plants and soil microbes is this: Plants supply sugars to the microbes who cannot photosynthesize below ground. In turn, the microbes return the favor by supplying fertilizer in the exact chemical composition, at exactly the right time, and in exactly the correct quantity. No chemical application program can duplicate any those three aspects. Chemical fertilizers provide only 3 of the 13 nutrients commonly accepted as necessary and they do it when WE think is the right time. Soil microbes have defined the 13 nutrients, if that is how many there are. There are between 25,000 and 45,000 different species of microbes all working together to perform these feats. There are literally billions of individual microbes in a tablespoon of soil so if you're going to count for your acre, have at it. I think the NPK approach is a cheap approximation of nature's plant feeding program. But I think using natural materials and following nature's schedule for application, you will be in pretty good shape. And I don't think it has been proved yet in plants, but there are many biological examples of different species signaling each other when they need something by providing a biochemical signal through cell walls. I would be shocked if the plants and at least one of the tens of thousands of microbial species did not have such a relationship.

Sorry if I sound preachy. I'm trying to be informative. This is much toned down from years ago when I was outright belligerent.

timturf
08-25-2003, 05:38 AM
wHAT IS THE DIFFINATION of "natural organic fertilizer?

Let's assume it't not the chemist diffination of anything containing a CARBON. That eliminates urea, nutralene, ureaformalyde, and others

Do natural organics release nutrients when soil temp is below 50 degrees?

NO! WHY NOT?,
Because soil micro must break down nutrients into a usuable form!! Same thing happens to some of the sythetis organic fertilizers, like uf and nutralene! Most of the sythetic fert are in a much simpler form, that is one in which they are almost available to the plant
Hope my buddy Ric helps me out in explaining, otherwise out comes the text book, so I can better explain!!! That won't happen from me for 2-3 weeks!!!

GLAN
08-25-2003, 07:54 AM
Dchall

"if you are giving "organic lawn care," do you have to comply with any federal organic regs for certification?"


It is not so much the federal aspect as it is the local governing parties.

County east of me. You have to have a pesticide applicators license and certification in the use of "organics" to apply "organics"

Dchall_San_Antonio
08-25-2003, 11:40 AM
Do natural organics release nutrients when soil temp is below 50 degrees?

NO! WHY NOT?,

Because soil micro must break down nutrients into a usuable form!! Same thing happens to some of the sythetis organic fertilizers, like uf and nutralene! Most of the sythetic fert are in a much simpler form, that is one in which they are almost available to the plant This is correct. Soil microbes must be above 50 degrees to be active. Below that you don't get much activity to speak of. Luckily in many parts of the country soil temps below one inch remain above 50 degrees for quite some time into the fall or even winter. If the roots are deep into the +50 degrees zone, so are the microbes. So if you can spend the summer developing deep roots (mowing high and watering deep), then you have an excellent shot at green grass all year (in some parts of the country depending on the grass type, soil, etc.). Not only that but some microbes, being living creatures, generate their own heat. Look at hot compost piles. Because of that, organic yards tend to have soil temps slightly above the surrounding yards. This would lead to a longer mowing season.

"if you are giving "organic lawn care," do you have to comply with any federal organic regs for certification?"

It is not so much the federal aspect as it is the local governing parties.

County east of me. You have to have a pesticide applicators license and certification in the use of "organics" to apply "organics" Jeeze! :cry:

heritage
08-25-2003, 07:37 PM
DcHall,
Often I will do a soil test and Tissue testing before I begin a fert program on Trees, Turf. Are there organic amendments for all 13 essential elements. I do use sul po mag if these 3 are low, This I know is approved by O.M.R.I. Could you name organic sources for the other 10 elements.
I thank you in advance,
Pete

dan deutekom
08-26-2003, 07:02 PM
For imformation and comment http://www.allaboutweeds.com/page9.html

Sounds like a salad dressing to me because the results that I have gotten with this is about the same.