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ecoguy
08-10-2011, 02:01 PM
Hey guys/gals. I own an organic lawn care company and I'm thinking of adding small amounts of liquid urea (23-0-0) to my program to help increase colour and bulk and ultimately customer satisfaction and less weeds. Up until now I've relied on topdressing, effective micro-organisms and other nutrients but have stayed away from fertilizers believing it wasn't "organic" and would do damage to microbes. The problem is, I'm not achieving the colour I want and there's still many weeds and "underwhelmed" customers. To be honest, I've been going through so much Fiesta I can't help but wonder if it would be more sustainable to use a chemical fertilizer to thicken the grass and outcompete the weeds rather than continuing to soak the lawn with Fiesta.

I have no experience using liquid urea and so I had a few questions:

1. Is urea safe for pets/people? For instance, could they go on the lawn immediately after spraying with no negative health consequences?)

2. How long does urea last (could I keep it in my garage for a year, do I need to mix it periodically?)

3. Will urea damage microbes or undo work I've done with topdressing and adding in microbes?

4. I recently won "Green Business of the Year" in my local area. I am very sensitive about not green washing or selling out? Am I? Someone said to me "well, will the customers lawn still be safe for bare feet?" That is our tagline..."go ahead, take off your shoes." I assume it would be safe so perhaps it's fine. I don't know. What do you think?

Thanks,

John

ecoguy
08-10-2011, 02:43 PM
Actually, I think I 've found even a better option. It is a new product and called N- Sure. It's 60% controlled Nitrogen. Here's the link...http://www.growercentral.com/index.cfm?siteAction=showFamilyDetails&familyID=111882&CFID=6214139&CFTOKEN=89640169

ChiTownAmateur
08-10-2011, 04:27 PM
I don't think you should compromise your principles or mission to be green with that sort of shortcut.

Two ideas...one is Milorganite. Wouldn't that provide you with a natural, recycled product that will provide a long-lasting green?

2nd is ICT Bill's organic program compost tea. Wouldn't that give you the nitrogen boost you are looking for? Not sure if you had looked into his program or not.

Smallaxe
08-11-2011, 07:42 AM
Dried sewage on your barefeet... Milorganite is 4-2-0 + Fe4, which is organic but is still dried sewage, not composted sewage and it really stinks when wet even though it is 'safe' on your bare feet, becuz it is sterilized...
The Urea question is debateable in that I wouldn't bother with liquid ferts at all...

HayBay
08-13-2011, 03:04 PM
Eco-guy you are contributing to the Failure of the Lawn Care Industry.
Your Green Award should be taken away from you.

All you did was try and be different (save the world) but failed. How will you and your fancy Black Tie Chamber of Commerce repay all the persons that were affected by your lack of true understanding when it comes to protecting the Environment from so called TOXIC chemicals.

Shame on you.

Urea will not solve your weed problems.

You will have to torch and kill all of your unhappy customers to prove that Organics are the answer. Even though you are wrong.

Just like Greenpeace does.

http://www.duncancc.bc.ca/chamber-events/black-tie-awards/about-black-tie.htm

ecoguy
08-13-2011, 03:36 PM
You're a classy dude Haybay. Thanks for the helpful advice.

ecoguy
08-13-2011, 04:25 PM
Haybay, thanks for introducing my business to everyone by providing that link. If you could do the same now for your business, we can converse like men. I'm assuming a lot in that last statement.

phasthound
08-13-2011, 04:41 PM
Congratulations on your award! :clapping::clapping:

HayBay
08-13-2011, 06:34 PM
Your Welcome.

You provided all the info.

Go ahead and exploit me, its already been done here before. No loss

Stop pandering to the enviro wankers and people profiting off the fear. They are bottom feeders.

Remember 2 things out of this

1.) I didnt take your money and lie to you

2.) Health Canada Approved Pesticides are not TOXIC

ecoguy
08-13-2011, 08:17 PM
HayBay. Anyone this fired up about the industry is either scared about what's coming, feels guilty about what has occured or has been burnt. You assume a TON in your analysis of both me and my business. You have constructed a straw man and called him Ecoguy. I am not, have not and will never use fear in my approach. I always focus my terminology on health and use a VERY positive approach. I won the award not because all my lawns are weed free but because we work with integrity to grow the best lawn while avoiding products that compromise the health and well being of my customers. My urea question was genuine as I've never used it before and wanted to remain honest. Sorry if my question hit a nerve.

So....what's your business? We'd love to learn from your approach.

Smallaxe
08-14-2011, 09:20 AM
So now that the philosophy jabber is out of the way, what are you going to do to get more colour?

Tim Wilson
08-14-2011, 01:22 PM
Unfortunately the very large boat which most people miss, concerning pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers is the effect on the balance of life in the soil, surrounding vegetation and ultimately other creatures which feed there. Most emphasis is placed on whether a substance is overtly harmful to humans. I believe this is where the misplaced fear angle originates.

ecoguy
08-14-2011, 01:58 PM
So now that the philosophy jabber is out of the way, what are you going to do to get more colour?

I've never wanted to be the business who hooks up all its customers lawns to an IV of colour. Despite the enormous pressure from all fronts, I will never sell out in that way. My urea question was just that, a question. It was never meant to be a replacement for my soil building program but only a supplement at times for struggling lawns in transition. Most of my lawns recieve monthly applications of a brew I make myself full of 100% organic certified nutrients that infuse the soil with life and balance. That being said, when a lawn is very unhealthy it often needs to get over the hump before the organic nutrients can be very effective. My first preference is to replace the weed/moss ridden lawns and bring in soil rich in organic matter then immediately get them on my program of organic goodies. We've had great results with this approach. Where we struggle is transitioning the unhealthy existing lawns. I wonder if urea could be a good addition to our nutrients in the lawns recovery - not a silver bullet but an aid in helping the lawn get over the hump.

I will be conducting some trials with a few different things and I'll see what works best. I have mixed feelings on the use of biosolids in my program although I'm sure it would help with the green. In many ways, life would be much easier if colour was my main goal. But it isn't. It's always been about health first. The problem is consumers who have been brainwashed into thinking colour = health.

I have used Alfalfa meal and Corn Gluten meal and they seem to have their place. I really believe I can achieve health and maintain the colour at the same time, that is the cat's meow.

phasthound
08-14-2011, 06:47 PM
ecoguy,

IMO, you're not a sellout. Nothing wrong with adding a little urea for some green-up. It is not harmful to pets or people. The amount of urea you are talking about will not undo any of the good work you are doing.
But if you do start using urea, make sure you are up front about it and call your program something other than "organic".

Smallaxe
08-15-2011, 08:36 AM
I've never wanted to be the business who hooks up all its customers lawns to an IV of colour. Despite the enormous pressure from all fronts, I will never sell out in that way. My urea question was just that, a question. It was never meant to be a replacement for my soil building program but only a supplement at times for struggling lawns in transition. Most of my lawns recieve monthly applications of a brew I make myself full of 100% organic certified nutrients that infuse the soil with life and balance. That being said, when a lawn is very unhealthy it often needs to get over the hump before the organic nutrients can be very effective. My first preference is to replace the weed/moss ridden lawns and bring in soil rich in organic matter then immediately get them on my program of organic goodies. We've had great results with this approach. Where we struggle is transitioning the unhealthy existing lawns. I wonder if urea could be a good addition to our nutrients in the lawns recovery - not a silver bullet but an aid in helping the lawn get over the hump.

I will be conducting some trials with a few different things and I'll see what works best. I have mixed feelings on the use of biosolids in my program although I'm sure it would help with the green. In many ways, life would be much easier if colour was my main goal. But it isn't. It's always been about health first. The problem is consumers who have been brainwashed into thinking colour = health.

I have used Alfalfa meal and Corn Gluten meal and they seem to have their place. I really believe I can achieve health and maintain the colour at the same time, that is the cat's meow.

So what have you decided on for watering schedule and what changes have you observed in your soil...

jonthepain
08-15-2011, 11:04 PM
I couldn't help but notice that urea is listed as an organic compound...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urea

phasthound
08-16-2011, 08:49 PM
I couldn't help but notice that urea is listed as an organic compound...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urea

Chemically, anything that contains a Carbon atom is organic.
There are many other meanings for the same word. This is one reason why we will be changing the name of our company soon.

ted putnam
08-16-2011, 11:46 PM
I'm no organic based lawn business but I have looked in to some things. Are these microbes that are contained in these CT's not meant to have a symbiotic relationship with the root system of the turf wherein they actually fix nitrogen for the plant to use. It seems to me that you have to have some nitrogen there for them to "fix", other than what is just floating around in the atmosphere. I realize that some of this nitrogen is provided by the top dressings of various things such as composts, but is this really enough? I mean really? I can see where this can reduce the need for additional inputs such as Urea but I really have doubts as to whether it eliminates the need alltogether. I'm thinking in order for a lawn to outcompete weeds, it needs to be thick and it must have a steady supply of ALL of the right nutrients available for this to happen. N is a very important part of this strategy especially since lawn are under a rigorous maintenance/mowing schedule. Can this really be accomplished by merely adding organic matter and spraying it with microbes? Then the question is, can it be done in a cost effective manner affordable for customers other than just the wealthy and done on a scale that makes it a viable business to operate and actually make a living? All of these are questions I've had for a long time and never seem to get a clear cut answer to when I read in this forum and some other places also. The basic plan seems to be firm. Organic matter, Compost, CT's for adding active microbial life. Some even recommend using protein meals. But then after that it seems to be a lot of guesswork and a lot of conflicting viewpoints and information. I haven't even mentioned the sustainable argument that comes up when someones product usage and techniques are "scrutinized" and separated according to personal definitions of what "Organics" encompasses. It can get pretty heated around here and...for the most part... I remain confused and therefore very doubtful...

I think Haybay would like to be able to provide a virtually weed free lawn using products that actually work and have been deemed safe when applied correctly. I see why. That's what my customers hired me for more than anything. I'd say 95-97%. Green= Healthy is not the equation most of my clientele operate under. Don't get me wrong, occasionally there is the customer that has that stuck in their head, but very few and I usually don't keep them for long because I refuse to play that game. Most of mine use the Weed Free= Why I hired you principle. Having a thick lawn is just ONE of the ways I can reach the "Weed Free" part of that equation a little easier. It is impossible for it to be the ONLY way. If it were the only way I was allowed to, there's no doubt in my mind that my customer base would dwindle.

vencops
08-17-2011, 06:50 AM
because we work with integrity to grow the best lawn while avoiding products that compromise the health and well being of my customers.

So do we!

Maybe we're not so different. Did you buy Y2k ins.? Me neither! Vote for Gore?

Well.....you lost me, there.

(just kidding......kinda)

Smallaxe
08-17-2011, 08:24 AM
I'm no organic based lawn business but I have looked in to some things. Are these microbes that are contained in these CT's not meant to have a symbiotic relationship with the root system of the turf wherein they actually fix nitrogen for the plant to use. It seems to me that you have to have some nitrogen there for them to "fix", other than what is just floating around in the atmosphere. I realize that some of this nitrogen is provided by the top dressings of various things such as composts, but is this really enough? I mean really? I can see where this can reduce the need for additional inputs such as Urea but I really have doubts as to whether it eliminates the need alltogether. I'm thinking in order for a lawn to outcompete weeds, it needs to be thick and it must have a steady supply of ALL of the right nutrients available for this to happen. N is a very important part of this strategy especially since lawn are under a rigorous maintenance/mowing schedule. Can this really be accomplished by merely adding organic matter and spraying it with microbes? Then the question is, can it be done in a cost effective manner affordable for customers other than just the wealthy and done on a scale that makes it a viable business to operate and actually make a living? All of these are questions I've had for a long time and never seem to get a clear cut answer to when I read in this forum and some other places also. The basic plan seems to be firm. Organic matter, Compost, CT's for adding active microbial life. Some even recommend using protein meals. But then after that it seems to be a lot of guesswork and a lot of conflicting viewpoints and information. I haven't even mentioned the sustainable argument that comes up when someones product usage and techniques are "scrutinized" and separated according to personal definitions of what "Organics" encompasses. It can get pretty heated around here and...for the most part... I remain confused and therefore very doubtful...

I think Haybay would like to be able to provide a virtually weed free lawn using products that actually work and have been deemed safe when applied correctly. I see why. That's what my customers hired me for more than anything. I'd say 95-97%. Green= Healthy is not the equation most of my clientele operate under. Don't get me wrong, occasionally there is the customer that has that stuck in their head, but very few and I usually don't keep them for long because I refuse to play that game. Most of mine use the Weed Free= Why I hired you principle. Having a thick lawn is just ONE of the ways I can reach the "Weed Free" part of that equation a little easier. It is impossible for it to be the ONLY way. If it were the only way I was allowed to, there's no doubt in my mind that my customer base would dwindle.

I don't believe that any of the CTs have N-Fixing bacteria... The value of the CTs are innoculating the soil with favorable microbials and their dead bodies, along with the digested OM provide the N that is talked about...

A healthy, living soil with lots of OM and good structure can do very well w/out additional P, in that AM Fungi is symbiotic in the root system and extract P from any and all soils...

"N", of course is difficult to keep in steady supply, which is why the additional synthetics are desireable at times... But understanding that a soil rich in OM with good structure and enough life to be providing some N all on its own requires very little additional to give it that extra colour...

Weeds and Ferts are not in the same discussion... They need to be killed chemically, by pulling, burning but not by magic in the NPK... :)

ted putnam
08-17-2011, 09:01 AM
I don't believe that any of the CTs have N-Fixing bacteria... The value of the CTs are innoculating the soil with favorable microbials and their dead bodies, along with the digested OM provide the N that is talked about...

A healthy, living soil with lots of OM and good structure can do very well w/out additional P, in that AM Fungi is symbiotic in the root system and extract P from any and all soils...

"N", of course is difficult to keep in steady supply, which is why the additional synthetics are desireable at times... But understanding that a soil rich in OM with good structure and enough life to be providing some N all on its own requires very little additional to give it that extra colour...

Weeds and Ferts are not in the same discussion... They need to be killed chemically, by pulling, burning but not by magic in the NPK... :)

OK, maybe I misunderstood. I was under the impression that the CT's contained mycorrhizae. These are nitrogen fixing bacteria, are they not? As far as the "mining" that happens, ALL of the essential nutrients need to be present to be mined, otherwise they need to be added in some form or fashion...again, in some practical way. Am I wrong?
C'mon Smallaxe, You're not talking to some greenhorn rookie in the lawn business. I'm well aware that weed control is not some magical compound contained in NPK. I do know that when these are available in sufficient quantities the lawn is healthier and in most cases thicker because of this health. Nobody can argue that a thick lawn aids in weed control.
Weed control and ferts may not be in the same discussion for you but to me they go hand in hand. My customers are looking for a healthy, hopefully green, WEED FREE lawn. In their minds, these are all tied together and are what I'm there for. If I ask them to lower their expectations because I've decided to do the "right" thing and "Go Green", I still need to be able to maintain pretty close to that level of expectation. Otherwise, like I said before, my customer list will surely dwindle.

Smallaxe
08-17-2011, 09:27 AM
If there is an AM fungi that fixes N, then it is news to me... discoveries are made all the time...
AMF has always been big on mining P, and it was noted they become inactive whenever a fresh supply of P was applied to the soil...

I understand that a thick healthy lawn is going to prevent weed growth, but will never kill weeds on it own... I think we both know that...

The biggest question is,,, How... Dumping fert and water on dead mineral hydrophobic soils is not even part of the discussion. Niether is lowering expectations...

I thot we were discussing CT's effects on soil and how it actually functions... :)

phasthound
08-17-2011, 09:37 AM
Just a quick reply due to time restraints.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycorrhiza
http://soils.usda.gov/sqi/concepts/soil_biology/bacteria.html

As for CT, mycorrhizea are added after the brewing process. I'm not sure about N-fixing bacteria growing in the brew, Tim can answer that better than I can.
ICT 123 Instant Compost Tea does contain N-fixing bacteria.

NattyLawn
08-17-2011, 10:23 AM
OK, maybe I misunderstood. I was under the impression that the CT's contained mycorrhizae. These are nitrogen fixing bacteria, are they not? As far as the "mining" that happens, ALL of the essential nutrients need to be present to be mined, otherwise they need to be added in some form or fashion...again, in some practical way. Am I wrong?
C'mon Smallaxe, You're not talking to some greenhorn rookie in the lawn business. I'm well aware that weed control is not some magical compound contained in NPK. I do know that when these are available in sufficient quantities the lawn is healthier and in most cases thicker because of this health. Nobody can argue that a thick lawn aids in weed control.
Weed control and ferts may not be in the same discussion for you but to me they go hand in hand. My customers are looking for a healthy, hopefully green, WEED FREE lawn. In their minds, these are all tied together and are what I'm there for. If I ask them to lower their expectations because I've decided to do the "right" thing and "Go Green", I still need to be able to maintain pretty close to that level of expectation. Otherwise, like I said before, my customer list will surely dwindle.

Mycorrhizae translates to "root fungus". It forms a symbiotic relationship with roots of plants and helps them extend further for additional moisture and nutrients. The trick is it needs to make contact with the root to form this relationship. The debate is whether you can apply myco. in a foliar spray to get down into the root zone. Most believe that it's not cost effective to spray myco. in this manner (including me), but I'm sure there are studies that refute this claim. I think it's best to apply myco. on turf at the time of renovation, like slice seeding where the myco will make contact with the seed or young root of the seedling. Myco are a fungus as far as I know.

I think what you're talking about Ted is nutrient cycling that AACT promotes. The microbes will multiply and release exudates which will make more nutrients plant available.

ted putnam
08-17-2011, 11:30 AM
If there is an AM fungi that fixes N, then it is news to me... discoveries are made all the time...
AMF has always been big on mining P, and it was noted they become inactive whenever a fresh supply of P was applied to the soil...

I understand that a thick healthy lawn is going to prevent weed growth, but will never kill weeds on it own... I think we both know that...

The biggest question is,,, How... Dumping fert and water on dead mineral hydrophobic soils is not even part of the discussion. Niether is lowering expectations...

I thot we were discussing CT's effects on soil and how it actually functions... :)

I think lower expectations is part of the discussion. In the OP's own words, he has to "soak" the lawn with Fiesta. How is that better than using a weed control that actually WORKS in an IPM fashion instead of continually pounding the entire lawn with something that fits into the "Organic" definition and must NOT be working. As far as NPK and other nutrients go, he himself says he's using pretty much everything he can think of and some lawns are just not responding. If that is the case, then it seems to me something needs to be added that WILL work, even if it is only a temporary thing to help get the lawn "kick started". If something doesn't change, customer expectations will have to be lowered or they are going to start wondering why they are sending him a check. Is he "selling out" because god forbid he might be thinking outside the "organic box"?? In my opinion NO. He's worried about customer satisfaction as well as the environment as any LCO should be.

Tim Wilson
08-17-2011, 12:23 PM
Hi Ted;

Others have pointed out that mycorrhizal are fungi and not bacteria but specifically it is endomycorrhizal fungi which are symbiotic with grasses. Some myc. fungi do inject N into the root system. These do not grow in brewed ACT but there are spores in products like ICT as well as spores of bacterial N fixers.

The majority of N is derived fro the activity of flagellates and naked amoebae (both protozoa) and bacterial feeding nematodes consuming bacteria and archaea. They utilize only 30 to 40% of the energy consumed and the rest is expelled as pure ionic N. Because of this it is optimum to use a brewed ACT which is comprised of a large compliment of bacteria/archaea in a ratio of at least 10,000 to 1 of flagellates and/or naked amoebae.

Providing a small amount of organic matter and ACT has worked okay on my lawn but for sure it does nothing against weeds. In the new part of the lawn we put in, the grass is outcompeting the weeds so far.

Smallaxe
08-18-2011, 07:31 AM
I think lower expectations is part of the discussion. In the OP's own words, he has to "soak" the lawn with Fiesta. How is that better than using a weed control that actually WORKS in an IPM fashion instead of continually pounding the entire lawn with something that fits into the "Organic" definition and must NOT be working. As far as NPK and other nutrients go, he himself says he's using pretty much everything he can think of and some lawns are just not responding. If that is the case, then it seems to me something needs to be added that WILL work, even if it is only a temporary thing to help get the lawn "kick started". If something doesn't change, customer expectations will have to be lowered or they are going to start wondering why they are sending him a check. Is he "selling out" because god forbid he might be thinking outside the "organic box"?? In my opinion NO. He's worried about customer satisfaction as well as the environment as any LCO should be.

I thot we were discussing AACT and N-fixing bacteria... I agree with you, that IPM being the sensible way to go...

My primary concern is always with the soil... It appears to me that all the stuff being put on is either tying up more N than is being released, or, the N isn't in the soil in such a way as to feed the root zone...

Address those 2 issues and the expectations are right where they should be...

If we imagine that "Organics" is inferior to building healthy turf, then we don't understand what we're doing... That is like saying fresh fruits and fish in the tropics is fine for hiumans, but to have a real healthy body you'd want some canned tuna and pineapple from a can, and wash it all down with the 'energy drinks'...

Everyone seems bent on too much water and too much N and not allowing the soil to build up structure, Therefore synthetic N at the surface of the grass is the only way to keep the stuff green...

americanlawn
09-02-2011, 06:46 PM
We have some accounts that we treat with "pre & post emergent weed control only", and they still look better (in the long run) than some properties which are fertilized 5 times a year. Reason is the difference in soil quality (soil profile)

It all depends on the soil profile of the plant involved.......I don't care if it's turf, trees, or what.

We do our best to follow land grant university recommendations cuz they ain't gunna sell us a line of BULL. Our LG Univesrity has hundreds of plots in a 640 acre field station, and they have done hands-on research for many decades which allows them to observe the results of all kinds of nutrients, etc, etc. Bottom line: "There is NO miracle product" (other than nitrogen). ie: If one buys stuff to apply on the soil surface just cuz "it's organic", it's a RIP OFF. One must address the entire soil profile of the plant (s) involved.

Sure plants like clover, soybeans, etc can "fix" NITROGEN, but guess how deep the roots are needed to grow in order to provide long term benefits. Any farmer will tell you that unless one incorporates organic matter into the soil profile, he's wasting fuel & time.

Adding organic matter needs to be applied into the "soil profile" -- NOT ON THE SURFACE. Thats why they sell plows, disks, etc that farmers use every year. Common sense. my 2 cents

ICT Bill
09-03-2011, 08:29 AM
We have some accounts that we treat with "pre & post emergent weed control only", and they still look better (in the long run) than some properties which are fertilized 5 times a year. Reason is the difference in soil quality (soil profile)

It all depends on the soil profile of the plant involved.......I don't care if it's turf, trees, or what.

We do our best to follow land grant university recommendations cuz they ain't gunna sell us a line of BULL. Our LG Univesrity has hundreds of plots in a 640 acre field station, and they have done hands-on research for many decades which allows them to observe the results of all kinds of nutrients, etc, etc. Bottom line: "There is NO miracle product" (other than nitrogen). ie: If one buys stuff to apply on the soil surface just cuz "it's organic", it's a RIP OFF. One must address the entire soil profile of the plant (s) involved.

Sure plants like clover, soybeans, etc can "fix" NITROGEN, but guess how deep the roots are needed to grow in order to provide long term benefits. Any farmer will tell you that unless one incorporates organic matter into the soil profile, he's wasting fuel & time.

Adding organic matter needs to be applied into the "soil profile" -- NOT ON THE SURFACE. Thats why they sell plows, disks, etc that farmers use every year. Common sense. my 2 cents

actually "no till" is becoming the standard, the reason being when you plow or till you are gassing off organic matter and destroying the fungal hyphi and bacterial colonies that have gotten established in the soil. these "guys" are the ones that make soil fertile, lessen compaction, make aggregates and help hold moisture

Smallaxe
09-03-2011, 08:32 AM
We have some accounts that we treat with "pre & post emergent weed control only", and they still look better (in the long run) than some properties which are fertilized 5 times a year. Reason is the difference in soil quality (soil profile) ...

... One must address the entire soil profile of the plant (s) involved.

Sure plants like clover, soybeans, etc can "fix" NITROGEN, but guess how deep the roots are needed to grow in order to provide long term benefits. Any farmer will tell you that unless one incorporates organic matter into the soil profile, he's wasting fuel & time.

Adding organic matter needs to be applied into the "soil profile" -- NOT ON THE SURFACE. Thats why they sell plows, disks, etc that farmers use every year. Common sense. my 2 cents

I'm glad to hear someone actually talking about soil... there is a real difference between sand, clay, drainage, structure, SOM rich, SOM poor, puddling etc., etc.

There is a separate way to farm and another to turf, though I agrees plants are plants and all needs healthy soil to thrive... Does N from the N fixer legumes share the N with there neighbors or do the legumes have to die then the N is utililized by other roots???

We don't want to plow up our lawns every year, but we can use pluggers an spread in compost, However: a lot of beneficial soil structure can be built from the top down becuz it is usually built by fungi, not machines...

The problem is that LCOs are too busy growing real thatch over the surface of the soil and removing the mulch from the grass that actually might serve to do some good for the soil...

Has your LG-U told you about any research regarding thatch and how the clippings and dead grasses are beneficial to soil building and reclamation of nutrients?
What is their take on that? ... :)

Smallaxe
09-03-2011, 08:41 AM
actually "no till" is becoming the standard, the reason being when you plow or till you are gassing off organic matter and destroying the fungal hyphi and bacterial colonies that have gotten established in the soil. these "guys" are the ones that make soil fertile, lessen compaction, make aggregates and help hold moisture

There are a lot of factors in deciding what is the best way to go, and the no till guys are going back to plowing and/or discing, in this area... The layer of 'black dirt' gets thinner when plowing stops... different parts of the rotation can get by w/out tilling, but for corn it is tilled at least once... the jury is still out and here again, One Size Does Not Fit All... :)

where do decaying organic matter gasses go when they are rotting on the surface?

ecoguy
09-04-2011, 01:44 PM
I think lower expectations is part of the discussion. In the OP's own words, he has to "soak" the lawn with Fiesta. How is that better than using a weed control that actually WORKS in an IPM fashion instead of continually pounding the entire lawn with something that fits into the "Organic" definition and must NOT be working. As far as NPK and other nutrients go, he himself says he's using pretty much everything he can think of and some lawns are just not responding. If that is the case, then it seems to me something needs to be added that WILL work, even if it is only a temporary thing to help get the lawn "kick started". If something doesn't change, customer expectations will have to be lowered or they are going to start wondering why they are sending him a check. Is he "selling out" because god forbid he might be thinking outside the "organic box"?? In my opinion NO. He's worried about customer satisfaction as well as the environment as any LCO should be.

You get it Ted. That's exactly how I've been feeling. I'm Organic but what does that mean practically? That I use Organic products or that I strive to build a healthy soil environment that the grass can sustain itself. Who knows, maybe the lawns will always need me or us (it's definitely better $) ha, but in the big picture, I would imagine our job as organic lawn professionals is to reduce the inputs and/or ensure when there are inputs they are as toxic free/safe as possible. Perhaps we need to approach our work as doctors. We prescribe a program of health (and for the rich we physically do the work) but we are often only called when there's a problem. The rub is always between the money side of the business and the principle side of the business. The doctor approach may be a pure approach but it's less money especially if we train our customers well. I think the principles of our business should always inform the money side and not vice versa. We all know companies who continue with "inputs" whether they are needed or not. The chemical lawn IV may be the most brilliant and dishonest lawn care approach of our time.

I think there's a better alternative. Perhaps as organic business people we can have our cake and eat it too. Perhaps the inputs don't have to decrease (so we don't lose money) but they are just changed to a focus of building the lawns immune system. In other words, our monthly/seasonal visits are for health and disease prevention rather than color and weed reduction. Just a thought. I'm sure you've had it too.

Smallaxe
09-04-2011, 04:03 PM
The money side is: though you may try more expensive ferts, they can be used less often... the principled side is: watching the soil for progress and problems...

I am using synferts in the Fall now, just to be more confident that the winterizer is being utilized by the plant before it is too late... Depending on moisture and temps any 'meals' may not even be broken down to the point of usability b4 the ground freezes...
If you don't have the color and the vigor that you want by now, synferts maybe necessary... as a matter of principle, give the client what you're being paid to do... :)