Organic or Not

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by cpel2004, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. cpel2004

    cpel2004 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,416

    Hey guys everything I hear about organic pest control and fertilizers are positive. I want to know from the professional opinion about the down side if any of organic pest control and why more companies haven't converted to organics only. Thanks in advance.
  2. upidstay

    upidstay LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,346

    Cost is one huge factor. A 2500 sq ft bag of good organic fert is around $20. A 12000' bag of good synthetic fert is $5 less.

    Availability can be limited for organics. Hard to start a business if you can't get supplies

    Do they work? The ferts work great. Not so well if you are starting with bad soil. They feed the soil which then feeds the plant. If you have junk soil to start, they are not so hot. The "pest control" end of organics is so-so. Soaps and oils have been used for decades with great effect. THey are awesome on shrubs and trees, but can they be used effectively on turf? There is Conserve, which is a biological control, but it doesn't really work that well. It WILL kill bugs, but does not have a very broad label, and in my experience, works about 1/2 as well as your bifenthrin products.

    There is no effective organic herbicide. All of the existing post emergants are burn downs. I do not like burn downs, find that the weeds just grow back when used alone. I believe Green guardian has an organic fert/boroad leaf herbicide out, but it is reeeealllly $$ and the label is not bery broad. The only pre emergant is corn gluten, and its effectiveness at controlling crab grass is still under debate. I used it a few times and had lots of crabgrass.

    Lastly, going organic is a big burden on the property owner. You are forced to actually care for your lawn properly. This means mowing when it needs it, watering properly, aerating regularly, making sure you have the right plant in the right place, etc. Chemicals allow us to cheat nature, forcer her to do what we want. You don't/can't have that luxury with organics.

    I use organc ferts myself with excellent results. My own lawn receives solely organic ferts (sustane). I use 0-0-7 dimension for pre-emergant, and spot spray for CG and broad leafs as needed. I have, by far, the nicest lawn in the neighborhood. Nice and thick, good color. Everything in my yard is getting a good dose of mycorhizae in the spring.
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,231

    Upidstay is correct.

    Broadleaf weed control is problematical. However--you may wish to use something like "Dismiss" with sulfentrazone. Toxicity is very low--they couldn't kill the rats. Also, you use 80 times less than if you used Weed-B-Gone. You only need 4 ounces per acre. In theory, you could eat an acre of treated grass and not reach the danger point. Kills nutsedge, too.

    AND...if you spot sprayed, that would reduce the dose per acre to a tiny fraction of the amount when spraying all the grass.
  4. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 720

    As Upidstay says, organic fertilizers are expensive on a cost/1000 sf basis. That makes the volume of product to be applied and transported to the site huge. And the results are slow.

    But too often the debates here are "either - or". The "Completely Organic" crowd disdains the rest, while the "Lesco Lovers" swear by their results.

    There is a middle ground; fertilizers that show excellent response, and have soil enhancing properties: the "synthetic organics".
    And many manufacturers make products that have a percentage of organic based fert mixed with "synthetic organics". These are top quality fertilizers. They're on the pricey side, but less expensive than organics and they show excellent response.

    Find suppliers near you who supply golf courses in the area, and they'll have a variety of blends that GC supers require for addressing specific needs and problems they encounter. Know what's in a bag of fertilizer. Know what different N sources do. Know your soils in your area. Understand P and K requirements for your area, and what to look for in the turf's response to see what's needed. And then start to get a basic grasp on micros.

    Then shop until you drop.

    Fertilizing is fascinating!
  5. WildLake

    WildLake LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 368

    Natural organic fert is just to slow, needs warm soil temps to begin the microbial breakdown before anything is even plant available. Nutrient uptakes are only late May to maybe early November. I don't hardly even fert during that period as it is not beneficial to root growth and will end up decreasing my heat and drought tolerences. What would the point be.
  6. NattyLawn

    NattyLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,643

    Actually using organic fertilizers will increase your heat and drought tolerances.

    You don't apply late spring, summer or early fall fertilizers?
  7. WildLake

    WildLake LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 368

    No, not N, soluble N in later fall twice, and low rates of slow release N along with measured amounts of potash to counter excessive shoot growth, applied in very early spring. I completely emphasize root growth. If you have a great root system, everything else will look more than acceptable. I need to be able to mow all turf that I apply to as well, so anything that increases shoot growth too much must be avoided. My view is, organic doesn't do exactly what I need it to, when I need it(less control, with its release characteristics determined by several other factors including temp,moisture,microbes, etc) and it increases costs probably around 4 times. I am in no way opposed to others using organic and I know there are benefits, but for me, it just doesn't fit.

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