what is it all about

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by deltascapes, Aug 31, 2006.

  1. deltascapes

    deltascapes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 123

    chemical applicator wanting to know a little more about organic and does it really work. have heard the smell is unbearable.
  2. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,342

    Delta, organics is a completey different aproach than spraying chemical, do organics work, yes and very well, but often the results dont meet the customers expectations. Most people are accustomed to seeing results NOW! and are not willing to wait for the organics to work. With spraying chemicals, you are treating the symptoms of a poorely managed lawn and landscape. An Organic approach treats the sources of the symptoms. There is only one real way to treating the problems and that is thru correcting the reason for the problems in the first place. For this one has to feed the soil and forget about feeding the plant. Once the soil fertility is restored, the problems will take care of themselfs and the plants will have the nurishment they require.

    Restoreing the soil fertility is a lot more than just adding NPK fertilizers, or even organic fertilizers that are selling NPK. You have to take care of the entire chemical makeup of the soil. There are some 92 elements that make up the atomic chart. NPK is only three of those elements and you can never get a complete balance of nutrients if you only add NPK, wont work, aint never going to happen, period. Laws of Chemistry and Physics cant be changed with simple NPK applications. Most fungus and disease problems can be contributed to an inbalance of nutrients in the soil. Continued application of just three elements will insure that the chemical balance of the soil is never corrected. Certain plants and microbes thrive in soils that are higher in NPK, grass isnt one of them. Most weeds and woody plants like higher levels of K in the soil, most fungus like higher N levels. While it true that your turf needs NPK, there are at least 17 other elements that the grass likes as well. High levels of P ties up most of those elements. It takes a correct chemical balance in the soil to insure good physicial structure in the soil, and the combined chemical and physical properties will insure a good diversified biology.

    Using organics doesnt have to be smelly or hard to do. It just takes a little knowledge on the part of the applicator and a willingness of the customer to wait on the progress. The better you can educate your customers, the more willing they are to wait on the progress.
  3. hmartin

    hmartin LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 590

    I read though the stickys. I am in the chemical heribicide and fert side. I am much less familar with the Organic methods. My lawn is low in OM and it is 1 acre. What is the best and econmical way to increase my OM.
  4. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,563

    organics as the term is used here are still chemicals... they are just produced by mother nature instead of by us...the word organic really means that a chemical has a carbon backbone or center, lots of man made products are organic.. propane, methane, gasoline, etc...

    the business will continue to grow slowly, but unless you are in a liberal urban area, good luck with a profitable business..
    cost is too high and results can be marginal.

    there is nothing wrong with it, but then again there is nothing wrong with synthetic applications if done correctly... and take it from a formally trained biologist.. you can still really screw stuff up with "organic" materials, it's just a little harder to do....
  5. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,342

    I have to agree with Yardpro. Organics are just chemicals withou all the refinement. but it isnt all just chemical, you also have to consider the biology. The chmeicals in the organic materials are the same ones in the fertilizer, just because you add a compost doesnt mean you added the right amount of organic chemicals to your soil . When the chemical balance of the soil gets out of wack, the structure of the soil suffers, and when the structure suffers, so does the biology.

    the best way to add organic matter to your soil is to simply correct othe chemical blance, this can be done with regular chemical fertilizers, but chemical fertilizers are less forgiven if you make a mistake. the addition of microbes doesnt hurt either, most organic matter is madeup of dead microbes that have lived, fed and died in the soil.
  6. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,563

    mudstopper has good advise..

    the biggest benefit to organics is that you can get a cycle (ecosystem) set up that will self propagate and will no longer require any additional work from you.

    Adding a lot of organic matter and microbes to the soil will create a situation where the soil microbes will break down the fish meal, manure, etc... they will eat it and produce NH3 as thier waste product This can then be taken up by the plants... these bacteria, etc. are called nitrogen fixing microbes.

    The main drawback to this scenerio is that it takes quite a while to get things going, and does not produce much NH3, so if you have verry heaver feeding plants or turf (ie bermuda, etc....) the microbes cannot produce enough nitrogen in useable form to the plant material. Bermuda for example can extract from the soil 2 lbs nitrogen per 1,000 sqft per MONTH while actively growing.....

    that is far more than any organic system can produce.

    the slow cycle of organic systems are the biggest benefit, they act slowly, so it is harder for us to screw up...

    there are organic practices that make me cringe... manure applications.. DE useage, and a few others.

    Manure is extremely easially washed away by rainfall into rivers, lakes, etc. It will add not only a nitrogen load to these water supplies, but also has the potential to introduce e.coli, fisteria and many other pathogens, that are very bad for those that rely on these water sources.

    DE is a very nasty microbe skeleton that if inhaled can very easially become lodged in the alveoli of the lungs, just like asbestos, and fiberglass.

    i sometimes come off as anti organic, byt that is simply not true...

    I do at times get very short with people that make claims based soley on emotion and without even the slightest bit of accurate information.

    I call these knee jerk reactions...

    like those that freak out over roundup when it is as safe or safer than table salt, etc....
  7. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,342

    I was told a story about a farmer in Ohio or Missouri or somewheres that had a low organic matter content in his soil, He had been on a chemical fertilization program for years but he had approached the fertilization from a specific nutrient balancing program of getting all the nutrients in their correct proportions, not a program of just adding NPK. Each year his yeilds had improved, but he still wasnt satified. One year a organic salesman told him that if he would just add a biostimulant he could forget about the fertilizers. Well he tried the stimulants and his crop yeilds jumped way up. Not only that but his organic matter improved by 2 percentage points in just one year. The farmer stopped using the chemical fertilizers and went strickly biostimulants. The next year, yeilds where still up, but not quite as good as the last year, the following year his yeilds went down a little more. The organic salesman couldnt explain it, but an argonomist did. As long as his fertility levels where adequate, the microbes had a perfect area to thrive. The constant life cycle of the microbes, living and then dieing, is what built up his organic matter so much in one year. The reason that the crops started suffering after that first really good year is simply because the nutrient levels where going down as the crops where removed from the soil. The addition of the microbes without replacing lost nutrients resulted in a mining of nutrients from the soil. As the Nutrients where mined, the organic matter went down also. The loss of organic matter was a result of the microbe environment being reduced to levels that could only support a smaller number of microbes. Less microbes being born and dieing resulted in less organic matter. Now the guy is back to using chemical fertilizer and bio stimulants, he test his soils yearly to insure he is just adding the nutrients he is loseing thru crop harvest. His organic matter is good, and his crops are good and he is using less fertilizers than he ever did before.

    You can believe this story or not, it was told to me as the truth and I believe the guy that told it. It is my belief that you cannot treat the soil with biology and maintain a proper soil nutrient balance. You also cannot just treat the soil with chemicals and maintain a diverse microbial balance, it takes both.
  8. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 720

    :usflag: :hammerhead:

    There we go!
  9. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,563

    i don't believe the story. Not at all questing YOUR credibility, just can't see it happening for this simple reason......

    ORGANIC MATERIAL WILL NOT build in soils by itself. Organic material in soils comes from decomposition of more complex organic material. It is mother natures way of recycling elements. The only way for organic material to increase in soils is for it to be added by something else decomposing. If left alone with nothing dying and being decomposed into the soil, the soil will eventually become barren. This is why before the industrial revolition farmers would always till in the old dead stalks, etc...

    a biostimulant cannot create organic material... all it does is stimulate microbes and help them to break down more complex materials in the soil.

    remember a very basic scientific principal... the law of conservation of matter...
    it states that matter can niether be created nor destroied, it can only change form....

    keeping this in mind there is no more carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, etc on the planet today than there was 100,000,000 years ago... we just manipulate it, wether it be by biological processes (organic) or mechanical means (synthetic).

    with good soils, and adequate microbial activity, the need for conventially fertilizers can be reduced or even eliminated...this is the ideal situation.
  10. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,342

    Yardpro, I have no way of validating the story, but consider this. Microbes feed on the soil for their nutrients, they are the first customer up to the dinner plate. As long as there is an abundance of a food source, the microbes will continue to multiply and thrive in the soil. It has been said that one acre of soil contains as may lbs of microbes as one large cow. Now supposed that we killed the cow, ground it up and redistributed it all across the filed. We would be adding a pretty large amount of organic material and a pretty big source of carbon. Well the same applies to the microbes. As each generation of microbes lives, eats, breeds and dies, we are adding a recycled source of carbon to the soil. The microbes have a much shorter life span than the cow and therefore thru regerneration will add more organic material to the soil than just one dead cow. Microbes exude many enyzmes that dissolves rocks into collodial particles for plant uptake. Plant roots also use exudates to dissolve nutrients. As long as there is a ample supply of nutrients, in the proper balance, the microbes will continue to thrive and multiply. To see how nutrients effect microbial population explosions one just needs to add a high nitrogen fertilizer to the soil when the weather is hot and humid and watch as the turf fungus consumes ones lawn. On the other hand, take a bare patch of subsoil and treat it with just microbes and see how long the microbial life cycle continues, or how well you can get grass to grow. Whether the story is true or not, I believe it is possible.

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