Semi-Organic fertilizer program

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Kevin1, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. Kevin1

    Kevin1 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 20

    Well...this is my second year in business using a synthetic 5 step fertilizer program. I have been using a liquid program by putting down 3.72%N and
    .78% soluble potash on all five apps. Its the bare minimum that I want to put down for my program, but I'm currently at or above 80% of competitors for the quality of the lawns. I have used organics in the past with poor results (corn gluten meal and kelp meal) before I started my business. I will say that they did work, but the cost was ridiculous! Its probably a bad time to start a semi-organic program with the economy, but I want to go 100% or not at all! I have been considering using a synthetic R1 and ICT(Instant compost tea) on R2-R5. Will that work in my area? I stress using IPM on all of my properties so thats one reason I want to get more into organics. The other reason is that only a couple competitors in a 30 mile radius offers organics. I know the program works OK that I have now, but not sure on turning it over to 100% organic and not have the same results. I can't afford to piss off the majority of my clients. Has anyone had success using a semi-organic or organic program in the mid-west? Has it been feasible? I do NOT target high end residential. I am looking for some help on starting a program. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks, Kevin
     
  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    The Beginning And The End ............. COMPOST.
     
  3. NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC

    NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,268

    I'd truly love to see some before & after pictures of some lawns where Compost Only was spread out.
    I just don't see how compost only will make a lush, thick, green lawn?
    Unless the NPK ratings are equivalent to standard fertilizers?
     
  4. NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC

    NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,268

    I found this section from an article about compost topdressing:

    With respect to fertilization, the application of only one layer of compost fulfills between 50 and 100 percent of the annual fertilizing needs of your lawn. Compost is the only slow releasing soil amendment containing all of the necessary nutrients to maintain balanced levels of :

    * Macro-elements : nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium
    * Micro-elements : iron, sulphur, manganese
    * Oligo-elements : copper, boron

    Kinda interesting, but I guess it solely depends on the compost & its source!

    Do you think there's a certain time of year or temperature that's best suited for compost topdressing?
     
  5. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

    Compost usually does not provide "balanced" nutrients IMHO...

    You used the keyword... depends...

    It depends on the compost inputs, compost maturity, and needs of the soil...
     
  6. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    This lawn has been essentially maintained with compost only for many years.

    [​IMG]

    oh, and what it looks like prior to composting (about 2 weeks ago).

    IMG_0179a.JPG
     
  7. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

    Kiril,
    Did the preceding years have alfalfa, or any other non-compost, inputs?
     
  8. NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC

    NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,268

    If I purchased compost from a local landscape supply yard, would they be required to provide me the chemical breakdown or soil sample results upon request, or would that be something I would need to do on my own? This particular site states the PH is 7.8 and screened to 3/4" minus, is this suitable?
     
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

    Not really. Only use whatever ferts are laying around extra, and for this particular lawn, the amount of ferts that have gone on it over the past 10 years is probably equivalent to 1-2 years of your standard 5-step program. Beyond that, and the left over alfalfa (big ass pellets) earlier this year, nothing but compost.

    I will point out here that the success of a compost only solution will depend largely on the type of soil you have.
    In short, just because I can do it with my soils does not mean you can do it with yours.
     
  10. NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC

    NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,268

    You composted it 2 weeks ago? Oh yeah, I see your in Zone 9 CA, must be nice, we had snow here today in Southern Oregon, LOL!
     

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