View Full Version : Organic program or chemical program

01-02-2001, 07:43 PM
I'm starting out on my own this year after working for with Dad's company for several years, helping with mowing and trim jobs. My question is do you feel it is a must to provide a chemical program to a customer as well as mowing and trimming? I have a problem with it personaly and so does my wife but, I don't want to give up my customers to another company that will use chemicals so I thought I would get some feedback on organic based programs as well. Any help would be most appreciated. Thank you in advance Ryan

01-03-2001, 01:58 AM
Organic programs are extremly expensive. They can be successful if marketed to people who are as anti-pesticide as you seem. The average Joe will not pay the amount it will take to make it profitable. Try doing a search on LawnandLandscape. Corn Glutten Meal has become a popular organic pre-emergent. Post emergent broadleaf weed control can not happen organically in my opinion. You can use various organic fertilizers and the above mentioned pre-emergent, sucessfully. Organic lawn care programs give killer results, but they will be more difficult to make $ at. "The Turf Doctor"

01-03-2001, 02:19 AM
It seems to me with only one other company that I can think of doing organic in my area that I might be able to stay clear of price wars that seem to be cutting everyone in the industries throat, that I know of anyway. I've been trying to feel things out with current customers without going into too much detail and have had a beter responce than expected. I know that chemicals are more profitable otherwise everyone would be organic but if I could find a good program that someone is using I would try it. Thank you for any posts on this subject.

01-05-2001, 01:30 AM
Why are you so against chemicals? You don't seem to have a problem running gasoline products which contain Benzene (an incredibly toxic, cancer causing chemical). Your body uses chemicals everyday in the form of Oxygen, Nitrogen, NaCl (salt) etc. Just because something is a chemical does not mean that it is bad.
Lowering our use of harmful products is a good plan, but I think that you might want to research this topic more. It sounds a bit like you are not seeing all of the information. Ecoterrorists use mis-information and fear mongering as much as the manufacturers.
I don't want to appear to be too harsh here, but I see this topic way too often and it gets me a bit edgy. Sorry.


01-05-2001, 03:44 AM
Alan, No offense taken I'm sure it's just a side-affect of excessive exposure to pesticides, just kidding. It's not that I'm just dead set against a "chemical program" I'm just wanting to provide a safer option. Even though the chemical companies spend big money on blocking every attempt to clean up the industry I feel organic will be the only option in time. I have talked to several lco's including my Dad's company who use chemical programs that agree that it is something they will have to face down the road, but how do they tell the same customers they have told that organics don't work or they all smell or whatever else to get them to still use a chemical program that they are now going to use organics? Most of the lawns I mow that have chemical applications put down have 2-3 times as much thatch as the yards that don't have a thing done to them. Why so much thatch? Too much nitrogen, absence of benefical organisms and bacteria, and most of these yards are hard as a rock. I'm not trying to change anyones mind I'm just interested in hearing from companies that are using organics. With the biggest chemical company putting together a land care company I don't think I'm the only one looking to the future. Ryan

Island Lawn
01-05-2001, 05:01 PM
Changing minds = a tough thing. Forum minds as well as client minds. I believe that there must be people out there that would prefer organics in their lawn. It probably involves a whole other level of expertise, as even organics can be overdone/toxic.
Organic lawn care definately seems to be a niche market with little competition,and passionate clientele that may be willing to pay extra for the "perception" of helping to save the planet and enjoy the presence of more songbirds and frogs and...
As for me, Im in Rome doing as Romans. But, I might add an "organic option" to my list of available extras after sufficient study

01-05-2001, 09:42 PM
Just to put things in the right light here, I am for responsible use of pesticides as part of an Integrated Pest Management Program, therefore reducing pesticide applications. I am also in favour of licences for ALL pesticide applications. I am also in favour of educating the public (and other professionals) about the real versus perceived threat of pesticides.
The big problem that I have is that the Ecoterrorists (that is not to say that anybody who has a concern for the environment is an Ecoterrorist, but rather these are the extremists) have done an excellent job brainwashing the public into thinking that if it is natural it is good. This is not necessarily true IMHO.
Case in point: Cotton. The wonder fabric, perceived by all as the only fabric that a truly environmentally friendly person would choose to wear. Cotton attracts more pests than just about anything else. Pesticide use to grow cotton is required (except for some hew hybrids, I think). Now is cotton still such a wonderful fabric? Maybe more people should look at hemp (I truly think that hemp is a wonder plant, and not for the drug aspects).
Another point: Salt (NaCl). If I wanted to market salt as a soil sterilant, I am sure that I would not be allowed to because of it's toxicity to just about everything growing on land. Yet it is a naturally occurring CHEMICAL. It could be classified as organically sourced! Highly toxic, but perceived as safe.
Fertilizers can be overused and misused. Research has shown that smaller amounts of fert applied more frequently (even if the total # of N is the same) can eliminate leaching. Lower levels of N can still give a lush looking lawn without the forced top growth that leads to high levels of thatch. The availability of slow release 'hi tech' ferts can give a lawn everything it needs nutritionally, with almost no impact on the environment. And remember, the plants can't tell whether the N is organically sourced or not. N is N is N.
Maybe what you should promote instead of the organic only approach is the IPM approach. A combination of cultural practices, perception changes (ie a few weeds are OK) and yes, chemicals. I do not spray herbicides except when required to eliminate severe infestations. When I am mowing the lawn and I see a dandelion that is about to flower, I reach down and pick the flowers off. Easy, no special equipment, no residues.
I agree that herbicide use should be kept to a minimum, and that research needs to continue to find better and safer products for us to use. One of the first things that needs to be done is to educate ourselves and the public about the real risks and real hazards of the many products that we use on a daily basis (and not just on our lawns). If you really want to scare yourself, research Benzene, one of the main components of gasoline.
Stepping down from the soapbox.


01-05-2001, 11:47 PM
Alan, I'm glad to see your not one of the many that apply chemicals without making sure of the need. One of the problems I have is that of the 3 companies chemical plans I'm looking at right now every program has a planned application of insecticide, 3 post emergents and a grub control. These applications will be done reguardless of need, you can bank on it. Even though I do have insurance it was a warning sign when I found this in the pesticide general manual with reguards to being sued when applicating. "Legal scholars have found that except for UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES, the plaintiff will almost always win." I feel sorry for you guys that do practice safe handling and such it seems the rest that don't practice safe applicating have made it very easy to sue you for everything you've worked for. I also don't like the fact if you get licensed you will be policed by the extension office which, at least mine, appears to be clueless. When I asked them about storage they said just stick it in the garage and that's good enough. That's funny, that isn't what the manual says they gave me! How many of you have your windows and doors marked with warning stickers? Does it have fire-proof walls? " the storage building or area should be located away from where people and animals live." How many of you store this in a residential area? After looking over this manual several times 1. I think anyone with enough brains to remember to breathe could pass this test and still be clueless. 2. To run a legal pesticide operation, at least in Kansas you have to live in a rual are and still be away from animals. Is everyones laws reguarding this the same? These laws made very very nervous with reguards to whitch laws are they going to enforce that week. Ryan

01-06-2001, 02:41 PM
I think you hit the nail on the head with the "Which laws are going to be enforced this week". I have no trouble with a reasonable amount of government rules and regulations regarding what can be lethal products. However, the enforcement of the rules has to be consistant, and the enforcers should also have to be licenced so they know what is what.

Blanket spraying of any pesticide is so stupid unless the infestation is severe. Why put down product if there is no pest? Dumb, dumb, dumb. It costs you $, for no benefit.

This may be an urban myth, but I heard of a liquid fert operator around here who used Roundup instead of Killex one day. He killed all of the lawns but the licencing people said that he had learned his lesson and that they would not pull his licence because it was his livelyhood! His punishment was having to repair the lawns. What else has he screwed up on?

In regards to the suing bit, I think that if you had a very well documented IPM program, and evidence that you do not just slap chemicals down because it says you are supposed to, this would give you a very good defence.