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Core aeration vs. earthworms

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Organic a go go, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. Organic a go go

    Organic a go go LawnSite Member
    Posts: 211

    I get a lot of blank stares whenever I bring
    this up but here goes......

    Reading about the amount of soil a healthy earthworm
    population can burrow through in a season I've
    become less sold on the idea of aerating as
    a matter of course.

    If I've got a new customer or a lawn with a
    lot of kid/pet traffic then I'll certainly aerate
    if I think it needs it but it seems to me that
    aerating does essentially the same thing
    that earthworms do and in a lawn
    with a good population it isn't always necessary.

    Crazy talk??
  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    go go,
    I agree with you completely. There are lots of other critters down there in the soil that increase the porousity, arthropods, nematodes, worms, protozoa, etc.
    The issue is getting the soil running on all cylinders. You have to take the time to analyize where the soil is currently and how to put a soil fertility program together for that particular site

    On sites that are not running on all cylinders for some reason, Core aeration, over seeding, compost and compost tea applications are all a part of getting the soil food web going. This increases soil fertility and in the end makes a great lawn for everyone involved. The biggest issues for the lawn are compaction, if there is hardpan 3 inches down you will never have very good results with any program synthetic or organic. Especially new construction where the dozers have moved all of the soil around and have run over it a bunch of times, most of the water is just going run off or pool just under the surface, it has no choice.
  3. Organic a go go

    Organic a go go LawnSite Member
    Posts: 211

    This is one of the "over time" benefits I sell potential customers on. I tell 'em
    given the opportunity the soil can largely, though not completely, take care of
    itself. I tell 'em we're going to start working with nature rather than against
    it. People realllly respond to that line of thinking. I haven't met anyone yet
    who is really passionately pro-chemical. They're really primed to be sold on a
    different way.
  4. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    I agree too and I have the proof. I have a client for over 10 years with 10 kids and I have a fertilizer injector on the place. I run a bridge product that is humate based with a lot of enzymes and a slight bit of synthetics to give it some pop. We have never aerated and you can sink a shovel into that ground no problem. Ii have an old picture with a cross section of the soil when I was doing a valve repair and you can see Bermuda roots for 10" needless to say the lawn looks great.

    Ironically the product was initially called "Liquid Earthworms"
  5. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,362

    Does the mechanical process of aeration help encourage the propagation of more nightcrawlers? Does aeration noticeable harm the nightcrawer population in any way. I'm sure it's not nearly as destructive as rototiling. :nono: :laugh:

    I'm 100% in favor of the organic approach for healthy lawns. Especially since I get noticeably sick when ever I'm down wind of the big name commercial sprayers. I have no choice but to go the organic route.

    My grass is loaded with night crawlers. I believe this is the reason I don't have any thatch issues. I have never used any chems on it since I've lived here.
  6. Organic a go go

    Organic a go go LawnSite Member
    Posts: 211

    I have a client for over 10 years with 10 kids and I have a fertilizer injector on the place.

    Hey Az could you talk a little about that injector? Are you using
    for the whole lawn or shrubs and trees? If its you're using it
    on the lawn how do you figure app rates and spacing and
    such?? I've just custom mixed my own foliar sprays and used
    a siphon pump to apply. Seen the injectors but never used
  7. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    I believe the process is called fertigation, at least in Ag it is.
    Rototilling in new developments and on soils that have little to no organic matter is the only way to go.

    Rototilling does however chew up all of the beneficial microrganisms and put them all back to square one, if you will. They have to start all over building soil aggregates and getting their colonies going, this can take some time to get things back in balance. Rototilling especially effects the hyphi of fungus that are in the soil, the fungus do a lot to hold the soil together, provide porousity and supply nutrients to the roots of plants.

    Core areation does tear things up a bit but when you are trying to get organic matter down into the soil it is a better way to go.
    On sites that have low organic matter (less than 3 percent) we recommend core aerration, over seed, spray compost tea, cover with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of good to great finished compost, in that order.
    This gets the biology and the organic matter down in the root system where you want it and starts to establish a good soil food web.
  8. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    I am no worm specialist but I understand that nightcrawler establish a tunnel that they use all of the time to go to the surface and get organic matter like grass leaves that are on the ground.
    Apparently in soils that are rich with them they consume all of the thatch and leaf particles from the lawn.
    Thats why when people tell me they have thatch issues I normally respond with "I'll bet there are very few if any beneficial microrganisms there" essentially dead soil
    Where I come from they call that DIRT not soil
  9. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    All of mine do the whole property I hook them up right after the back flow. This one is a LMI pump with a flow switch and a 50-G tank, about a 1-K set up.

    Do a search with fertigation or fertilizer injector as key words. I have used them for nearly 15 years at all price points from $200.00 to 12-K per unit. Just too much info to go over again.

    The short version is if you want to stick your toe in the water and give it a try grab a Fertile Earth unit and try it. Cheap to buy at about 200 bucks and easy to install. Don't use their product for too long though they use anaerobic bacteria and it will consume the 02 in your soil rather than add to it.
  10. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    This is a contradiction, clarify?

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