Getting employees to put out fertilizer

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by MudslinginFX4, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. MudslinginFX4

    MudslinginFX4 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,170

    For you guys that get your employees to put out the fertilizer, how do you get them trained? I will be on the property with them, and will be watching them, but no longer want to be the one pushing the spreader and pulling the hose. With me supervising, it is not necessary in NC for them to be certified.

    I am having a hard time teaching them the correct width or spacing between passes with the spreader, and the correct speed with the spraying. Is there anything I can tell them to make them understand, or do i just need to be patient and let them learn by experience?
  2. teeca

    teeca LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,202

    you could look for help that has experience. not sure of how techs are tracked in NC, but in indiana, you can look applicators up by name and also by company. using this you could look at other lawn companies and get the names of employees and then look them up in phonebook and set up an interview.
  3. Seacoast

    Seacoast LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 56

    When spraying out of a hose, you want to walk at your "normal speed" and calibrate you equiptment to this. Measure how long it takes to cover 1000 sf then calibrate sprayer to deliver your desired gal/1000 in that time.
    As far as granular apps, it takes practice. The more they do it, the more comfortable they'll be. When they seem confident and ready, let them fly.
  4. MudslinginFX4

    MudslinginFX4 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,170

    Teeca and Seacoast,

    Thanks for the replys. I guess I'm not being patient enough with them. I just dont want them over applying because it is expensive and could do damage, but also don't want them under applying becuase of obvious reasons. I am just having a hard time getting it almost perfect, because I have always done it in the past. It's just beginning to be too much for me to handle by myself, 7 times a year. We apply about 2- 2.5 pallets of fertilizer each application. All of this plus managing the maintenance and landscaping is just becoming too much for me.
  5. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,476

    Training Cameron.

    Liquid Apps - Parking lot training with water for as long as it takes.
    Granular - Pelletized limestone at fertilizer rates.

    Scales, stop watches, video cameras, etc. Use mason string & stakes to insure they walk straight lines. Teach them to stare at thehorizon & never look at the ground. Measure their overlap over & over & over.

    You & they will need to be patient.

    The option is to find trained & experienced certified applicators & pay them what they're worth. I'll wager the cost is about the same either way.
  6. Seacoast

    Seacoast LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 56

    Training new employees can be difficult. It forces you to stop and think about what you do and why you do it so you can explain to them. Things you don't even think about and just do. Training a new employee also does not end when they learn how to "push" and spray. Dealing with customers can take some time to get comfortable with (esp. the unhappy ones):hammerhead: IMO it takes a solid 1-2 seasons for a green employee (rookie) to be proficient and comfortable. Best of Luck!
  7. LawnTamer

    LawnTamer LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,988

    I would double check on that idea that your employees don't need to be licensed applicators, there were a lot of guys doin that around here and they all got busted, EPA regs do allow for unlicensed people to apply under direct supervision of a licensed applicator, but in most cases only for agriculture apps. Just be 100% sure. For fertilizing, I have the trainee walk right by my side for a day, watching how I do everything, the whole time I'm pointing out overlap and speed and any obstacles. I let them practice the spreader controls with it empty till they are comfy with them. Then I turn the spreader down to about 1/2 the normal rate and I let them do it, walking by their side, I have them go over everything 2x at a 90 deg angle. Once I am confident in their abilities, I turn up the spreader to normal. It takes 1 to 2 days to get someone where I am confident in their abilities to spread fert.

    For spraying, water in the parking lot as was mentioned. Measure off 1000 sq ft and have them go over it again and again until they cover it evenly and use the correct amount of water. The first few days they are spraying keep a close tab on the amounts they use for each lawn, I know the size of all my lawns so I will know instantly if they go too light or too heavy.
    I've trained 10+ guys, all very different but it nearly always takes about 2 days to get them really comfy with the process.
    Good Luck.
  8. MudslinginFX4

    MudslinginFX4 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,170

    Thanks guys for the info and suggestions.

    I just got back in from the shop, I fixed my ride-on spreader so I'm going to try that again tomorrow some. Maybe it will help me a little until I decide what to do about the guys.
  9. naughty62

    naughty62 LawnSite Senior Member
    from iowa
    Posts: 368

    Training a person with poor math skills is going to cause more worrys than it can be worth.If you can legally send him out with a applicator , do so . a person can train almost anyone ,But they shoud be capable of knowing when and how adjust application rate in abscents of spreader setting .After a couple of weeks of O.J.T. , it will be obvious if they will be capable and willing to do the job with out a 24/7 babysitter.

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