1. Missed the live Ask the Expert event?
    Not to worry. Check out the archived thread of the Q&A with Ken Hutcheson, President of U.S. Lawns, and the LawnSite community in the Franchising forum .

    Dismiss Notice

Perfect Opportunity

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Smallaxe, Dec 21, 2007.

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    My wife was reading the weekly local paper this morning and discovered that our legislature is considering the "Stinky Lake" bill for the next session.

    This bill will put an end to Phosphorus fertilizers being used in our state. With some exceptions of course!

    To stimulate discussion on such a highly controversial subject I intend to use the 'Letter to the Editor' section of this paper to introduce the idea that AM fungus supplies P to the plants when it is very low in the soil.

    However as the P increases in the soil several micronutrients become less available. With this in mind the professional lawn care man should be able to discern whether the soil supports AM fungus and whether or not a particular piece of ground warrants an exception for new application of P.

    Looking for an opportunity to educate the masses? Stir up some discussion that many folks may pay attention to?

    My articles need to speak with authority and have plenty of good science to back them up, so if there are any solid ideas out there let me know. Thanks.
  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Smallaxe, I like it, I like it
    just remember that most articles written in the paper are written at a 6th grade level so that people can read it easily. If you get to technical your points may not get across.

    The issue is Money and lots of it, If the lakes, wells and streams become undrinkable because of contamination, local and state governments will have to move huge populations to municipal water systems. The expense would bankrupt most municipalities

    We passed legislation in MD in 1989 to take phosphorous out of laundry dish washing soaps, last year a law passed that will phase out phophorous in ferts in 2 years. Zero phosphorous is happening in most states that have a lot of water around them.

    If you would like some backup look at the NOFA site www.organiclandcare.net , they have copies on their site of legislation that they have gotten through MA and CT.

    Did you know that there are several references out there on using a compost tea that is high in P solublizing bacteria on lakes. obviously the size of the lake becomes an issue as they get bigger
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    Thanks Bill, that is another something I would like to introduce to the average homeowner with a lawn.

    Not only AM fungus, but P solublizing bacteria. My business promotional article is to leave the reader with one idea on his mind:

    "I don't have to worry about the P ban for my lawn as long as I have the good AM fungus getting P for me. :) Then as a bonus many micronutrients now are now available to make my lawn even healthier."

    Where , in the organiclandcare is the best article on P solublizing bacterias? I will bookmark and start looking.
  4. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    NOFA is an excellent group for training and back up legislatively, there is not a lot of research on their site. They do have great reference books though

    If your google "P solubilizing bacteria" or "Plant Gowth Promoting Rhizobacteria" you will find more info than you can read over the holidays

    Enjoy your family over this wonderful holiday
  5. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,342

    The P ban is a joke and not based on real sicence. As with most other problems, the controlers are looking at the symptoms and not at the real cause. P is highly immobile in the soil, problems are caused by over use and mis-application and not caused by the product itself. Educating the public on the proper use of P would provide a better benefit than imposeing a ban on P fertilizers. Further, Am fungus will pick up trace amounts of P from the soil, but only if specifc conditions are met. One problem with relying on AM fungi as your sole P source is that in a crop removal situation, you will mine your soil, so much in fact that the AM fungus cant survive or do its job efficently. At this point, crops will suffer as well as the benefitual microbes you are trying to re-establish in your soil. Most microbial soil innoculants only work if there are sufficient P and calcium levels already present in the soil. In soils where sufficient levels of Ca and P are not present, AM or other microbial inncoulations simply dont work, or how well they work is severely limited. Limiting water pollution by P is a great goal, and I agree limits should be imposed on who uses P forms of fertilizers, but an outright ban is not the answer.
  6. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,342

  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    Great article Mudstopper,

    Short and to the point. Saved me more research on leaves and clippings being part of the P count. Part of my promotion is going to be recycling the clippings into the grass and introducing the idea of soil mining.

    I agree with the legislation being an agenda not a scientific solution. Glad to hear someone raising that point. I plan to capitalize on it though :)

    Another point of interest is that available P in the soil was high at the same time the plate count of P eating bacteria was low. This was from an abstract measuring the 'seasonal availability' which may mean the dead bodies of the bacterias from the winter are providing nutrients for the plant first thing in the spring.

    With the problem of loosing P and Ca, thus starving the beneficial microbe population, was good to tell me, before my article. I need to be prepared to address this situation once the ban occurs.

    Would a regular topdressing of compost with a little bonemeal be a good system to address the problem?
  8. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    I would stick to general alternatives and methods of managing soils and avoid specific solutions. People have a tendency to run with whatever they read, be it an appropriate action or not.
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    That is a good point about specific procedures.
    As a lawn care man that supposedly knows all about natural care for lawns that is a question I need to have an answer to, for myself.

    As an editorial - it is a detail, that the reader should consult a lawn care man about.

    So far - I believe the editorial needs to begin with the idea that there are ways to maintain a great lawn without additional P.

    Follow-up with a simple example such as mulching the clippings vs. mining the soil.

    Next, introduce the function of AM fungus.

    Lastly the concept that every lawn is different, but no lawn should really suffer from the P ban if handled correctly.
    Oh, and one final note: perhaps it would be a good idea to stop mining your soils now in case this ban really grabs hold.

    Mention the mining issue twice, because without basic food in the soil the concept of microbes is useless.
    Sound ok? Not a self promoting sales pitch?
    Just enough information to start people thinking sensibly?
    Enough info to irritate my landscape buddies for raising the bar on natural lawn care? :)
  10. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,342

    You mentioned topdressing with compost as a solution. Not really, you know the old saying, if a little is good, then a lot has to be better. To much compost can cause excessive runoff, just the same as a chemical fertilizer. Also different compost sources will contain different levels of nutrients, without testing the compost, you have no way of knowing what you are adding to the soil. Also, yard clippings have already been mentioned as a huge P pollution source. Recycling the clippings by mulch mowing is a good first step, but lots of people dont like the looks of a mulched lawn. In this situations, bagging and composting the clippings would be great, but with all the toxic residues applied by the weed and feed crowd, it makes it impossible to reuse those clippings safely. For that reason, tons of bagged and collected lawn clippings end up in land fields, or they are just tossed in the woods behind the home, or curbside pickup, and eventually endup in the lakes, streams and ground water. Thats OK tho, because we can just ban P fertilizers and cure the problem, Right?

Share This Page