Compost Organic Lawncare vs. Organic Fertilizer L/C

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by c2weech, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,298

    I have to disagree here. When we are looking at increasing SOM, bulk is king. Compare the cost of any other organic based product you can find on the market, buy it in bulk, compost it and measure your end quantity, then see where you come out financially in comparison to a comparable amount of compost.

    Around these parts, Feather meal costs $35/50 lbs before shipping and tax, CGM at $60/65 lbs as opposed to $35/yard for high quality compost. If I need 2 acre-inches of stable organic matter (C:N of ~13-15) to bring my SOM to an acceptable value (5-10%), I think it is pretty clear which one of the three will be the most cost effective and marketable.
     
  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,298

    Availability is a key factor obviously even if compost is a universal product. As you know, some people have access to cheap bulk sources of feed meals, others do not. Same applies for compost. There are those that might be able to break even on the bulk to cost ratio problem .... but most cannot.

    Personally I feel if people are not selling a "program" that is designed to build a more fertile soil and move the site towards a more sustainable and closed system (i.e. reduced inputs), then you are not really "organic" regardless of what product you are using.
     
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    Agreed... we are just selling "A Program"... that's all the thinking we are capable of... :)
     
  4. Tim Wilson

    Tim Wilson LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 795

    I agree. This has to be the direction in the Americas and other areas where resources have been wasted. For some it may be about pure money, no matter the ethics involved. It is a choice.

    I'm sure Dave knows that it is primarily microbes which deliver nutrients from organic fertilizer to grass and other plants. In certain cases one may need to bolster the soil microbial population in addition to using the sorts of fertilizers mentioned by Dave. Quality (vermi)compost is one of the most complete and rounded 'fertilizers' available. As Kiril has mentioned it has the benefit of adding organic matter in larger amounts than the other fertilizers listed but it also carries with it the dormant and active forms of the microbes necessary for mineralizing the nutrients.

    I understand the whole cost issue and (vermi)compost becomes highly cost effective when one is able to make it themselves. As for applying it inexpensively, if one is resourceful, a mix of (vermi)compost and water can be applied through a hose using a gas or electric trash pump. You can apply molasses or fish hydrolysate, etc. at the same time (I know these are not sustainable). This is similar to liquid compost extract (LCE) except without separating the solids from the liquids. The farmers in my area apply manure using this method. Dave: this does stink but compost does not.
     
  5. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Platinum Member
    from zone 6
    Posts: 4,013

    Can you help me out here. Dealing in sq ft(1000sq ft) how many yards of compost would it take to raise the soil from 3% to 4%. Also short of doing a soil analysis is there a government or other site that would list SOM for soils in a particular county or region.

    Not to debate which is better or even suitable,just noting your pricing above, those who search hard will find 5-3-2 chicken manure around $6/40lbs or 300 a ton.
     
  6. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,560

    Compare the cost (product, shipping, labor) to a large LCO:
    22 tons of biologically active (tested by SFI) composted poultry manure, air dried and in spreadable granular form delivered at $8.50/50lb bag applied at up to 20lbs/1000 with the amount of compost (tested?) delivered and labor costs to topdress the same area at 1/4 inch.

    I know the results of both (if it's good compost properly applied) will be similar.
     
  7. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,298

    http://virginiadot.org/business/bu-compost.asp

    http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/HomePage.htm

    Those numbers were simply an example of pricing for several meals available from an organic supplier in my area.
     
  8. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,298

    Go ahead and crunch the numbers for us Barry. My source of compost is organic certified at $35/yard delivered.
     
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,298

    Barry .... do you have anything yet?

    It will cost me $28 in materials (delivered to the site) to cover 1000 sqft at 1/4" application depth. That is 0.8 yards of material.

    How much will it cost me to get 0.8 yards of the product you mentioned delivered to the job site?
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011
  10. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,560

    It will cost nothing to bring the 20lbs/1000 needed as it will fit on the seat of the vehicle that also has one man and a push spreader to do the job.
     

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