Fert blends with organic enrichment?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Victor, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,637

    For those of you who like me use fertilizers that have some organics blended into them, what's been your take on the results you've gotten out of them? When it makes agronomic sense, I use a 25-5-10 blend that has Milorganite blended into it. The stuff sure stinks to high-heaven, but I seem to be getting good results out of my lawns with it. One of the motivating factors behind my decision to use this product, was the poor soils present at most of the properties I service. Most of my lawns are fairly recently sodded lawns. Obviously, by improving the quality of soil on my lawns, I'll be making it that much easier to grow high-quality stands of turf.
    I haven't been using this product long enough to be able to expect to see much of a difference in soil quality, but I was wondering what impressions those of you who have been using blends like this for several years had. After all, improvement of soil quality is one of the reasons a lot of applicators use organic products.
  2. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,720

    I don't use very much granular anything anymore.
    But much of what I DO use is for my organic minded customers.

    The term "bridge product" has always been used when referring to fertilizer blended with organics, in the circles of sales people I've been around.

    And for the little bit I go through a year (less than a ton) I use the SustanE 18-2-8 w/iron.

    I agree about your statement about the potential of the organics helping poor soils...only over lots of time though.

    I limit the SustanE applications to between May and September, approximately. I've found that the stuff loses it's punch as the thermometer drops.

    I have 3 customers that insist on 100% organic all the time.
    For them I use the really stinky and expensive Sustane 5-2-4.
  3. green_mark

    green_mark LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 494

    We have found that most customers have little to no interest in having their lawn smell like s#@$.

    We use materials from Farm by-products that while are getting to cost more money of late are still less expensive than most and don't provide that lasting unpleasant odor.

    This year we have never had such high customer satisfaction as this. The best part is this was a terrible drought year and all other lawns just fell apart around us and our lawns stuck out in a good way.
  4. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Posts: 6,057

    Green Mark,

    What type of by products are you using off the farm?


    Like your take on adding the fert with organics! What is the name of the product and how does the cost compare to a conventional program? I am thinking at adding a "somewhat" organic program but still use some chem for weed control. I will never go ALL organic!

    It takes TONS of organic material/acre to actually make much change in a soil. Although you may see some advantages of using this product on the turf (which is still a great thing)...there will probably be very little change in the soil when adding at small amounts over time!

    There is some other good things that come from that though such as increased microbial action etc.
  5. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,637

    It's 25-5-10 w/2%fe made by Spring Hill. If I remember correctly, I paid around $12.50 a bag for it. As you can see, it's not high on price at all like organic ferts are.

    Check your PM by the way Rodney.
  6. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Organic matter inputs drop over time. You may have to put TONS of material on at first, over time it becomes very manageable.

    This is one of the big reasons organic programs are more expensive for the first 3 or 4 years.

    Fertilizers, synthetic or organic, are expensive to ship all over the place although Marco's may be using a great product, it may not be cost effective for me to use it where I am because of shipping. My point is, often you need to find a local supplier for organic products if you want the best price.
  7. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Posts: 6,057

    When I say putting on TONS of material I mean large volumes (1000-4000# or more/Ac to add 1% OM) of product to make any significant changes to a soil. Therefore adding a product at 3-4#/1000 isn't going to do much!

    That is all I was trying to say!
  8. green_mark

    green_mark LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 494

    We are using some of the old standards such as CGM, Alfalfa, plus Beet extracts both liquid and organic, Soymeal.

    My liquids cost between 1.50 - 3.00 /1,000 depending on volumes.
    This liquid is ideal for those who want to stay with chemicals also but would like far better results using less chem.

    The 14-0-5 and 5-0-3 both have weed killing properties but when you combine 25% - 50% of your chems normal rate you can see the big difference. Many weeds that were not on our label or the chems are taken down also.

    The bonus is also the color of the lawn. I have yet to find a company near me with lawns as green and thick as ours.

    We also add some interesting twists to lawn care that you can incorporate into your own clients. Generally, with the proper sales/information provided the customer purchases more services from us that their old service making price a none factor.

    We got a call from a customer whose next door neighbor who had been using Chemlawn for over 10 years and he said we were about double in price but the lawn was so much nicer it was apples and oranges.

    I have always said customers are not price shoppers if you show what they are getting for the value. Oh yes, our services are not double it's that we provided additional services such as Lime, CA, Over Seeding, Organic Matter top dressing, 6 ferts whereas they were getting 5 weed and feeds from Chemlawn and nothing else.
  9. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,720

    Also remember that you don't have to rely strictly on the pattern of applying organic fertilizer to "fortify" the soil.

    Organics aside, the ideal soil makeup is 33% silt, 33% clay, and 33% sand.

    Having heavy clays here in S. Ohio, I've run in to customers who asked me about the prospect of applying gypsum to their established lawns.
    I don't recommend that any more, unless there's a (rare) calcium deficiency.

    (FYI-The practice of gypsum application used to be widespread years ago, but it's been found that the gypsum actually contributes to sheet wash issues when just 'broadcasted' and not incorporated in to the soil.)

    So... if / when that point comes up I'll often quote the annual broadcasting of 100 -150 # of course sand per 1000 sq ft, in conjunction with soil aeration.

    And if they are really HARE CORE I'll get the manure spreader (that I use on soccer fields) out on their lawn and spread some really well decomposed compost for them !!
  10. MaineFert

    MaineFert LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 115

    We are using fertilizers that are blended or, exclusively organic matter. We have had tremendous results with using them here, and we find that budgeting for the organic matter is very beneficial as opposed to budgeting for only Nitrogen. We have had no complaints of odor from our customers and the pricing has worked out very well for us. Most of our customers didn't even know or care that we switched from conventional fertilizers, and they see the results on their lawns.

    Jim Allen
    Nutrients PLUS

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