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Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by DeepGreenLawn, Sep 27, 2008.

  1. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,372


    I have been frequently visiting the synthetic forum more and more intrested in how the prices of fert and stuff are going. Now they are saying that it is looking more and more bleak as time goes on especially with todays economy. I believe that this is a lot of "THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END!" mentality but there is still some truth and probability to a lot of it.

    SO, this also comes back to next year.

    I am wanting to get my compost going and CT, starting with CT and then working towards compost. My question/concern is...

    How much more complicated is it to make/apply compost than synthetic fert. I understand that they are two different things... but we are looking at it with this frame of mind.

    Next spring we are doubling our marketing and bringing on help to sale it. This then will result in a major influx in business. This ofcourse is a good thing. Now... the problem comes with the fact that synthetic bagged ferts appear to be much simpler to apply and manage. Application wise you throw it in tank/spreader and go. Compost you have to make it (in my case), screen it, transport it, and spread it with heavy machinery (or by hand, I am not vouching to spend the money for the "heavy" machinery).

    What I am trying to ask is how hard/predictable is compost. I know Tree is and has been doing this down south and I am still awaiting the time to be able to go down and see this all in person. I attempted to make my own on a local horse farm but it got to be more of a hassle than I preferred tiptoeing around their operation to make mine and then the fear of them kicking me off the property at any time was not very fun to have on my shoulder.

    My plans for when we do get it going, and we will get it going, is to have some land just outside of town, or inside, I figure the way things are going that there might be some good locations cheap, that will be easily accessible for LCOs to drop off their vegetative waste. Charge them to dump the said waste and then turn it into compost on site. Have the operation working so that I can do it on a small area of land and then ship it out to other storage sites strategicly placed throughout my routes (this is another story). Ideally the income of the waste coming in will supply the production site and the income going out will run the main business.

    Problems/issues to think about...

    • It takes money that we don't have and we don't want to go further in debt with the economy the way it is.
    • It is going to cost a bundle to get this up and running.
    • I have a feeling that a lot of LCOs will be going out of business due to the economy.
    • It is going to require a lot more workers = a lot more money.
    • Time... it will take time to get the compost finished...

    I don't know... if you noticed from the list the big problem is money... maybe we do one more year bagged organics and synthetics until we can raise the money to start the operation with cash? But then there is the issue of fert prices/availability next year...

    any thoughts/suggestions would be appreciated.

    I know I have gone through this before... just seems to be a big step and want to have all my ducks in a row.

  2. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636

    Haha, you could always follow my process..

    Try something half @$$.. post pics.. get ripped... get mad.. leave.. come back.. try it a little better.. get advice... adjust accordingly..

    Money on the other hand.. yeah, about that...
  3. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,372

    Bill made a good point on another thread... the cost of running my compost operation would probably be pretty close or less even than the cost of buying bagged fert next year... this year we have been buying as needed... bought a pallet from Barry and that was our biggest purchase this year. Still have a little left over but not too much. Next year with the growth of the business we will be spending a WHOLE LOT more on fert and the cost of the operation to make my own will probably be more of a blessing than a burden I would think...
  4. wallzwallz

    wallzwallz LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 361

    DGL do you have a topdresser yet? If you plan on composting all these yards I would think a topdresser is a must have to make any money. I found some compost and did a topdressing by hand, F that S. I won't do any more till I buy a topdresser LOL. Me personally, I would make the compost making the last part to take place. Get the customers, buy the compost for now ,get a brewer and topdresser and when you have most kinks worked out in the system and the customer base established then get your compost facility going. Just my 2 cents, good luck whichever way you go.
  5. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    This is a business decision plain and simple

    What is your cost on the current program, this should be broken down on a per customer basis? Meaning, 100 customers, average yard 3000 sq ft,equals 300,000 sq ft, cost per 1000 is? It should also be broken down into segments, fuel, man hours, product, equipment needed, insurance, etc

    You now have a cost to do business at each site, an average. You then break it down into changes in the program, what costs go away and what costs are new

    You can then compare profit margin from one to the other, long term you will be well ahead on profit by changing your model to your own inputs, short term you have a lot of one time costs to change the model

    What you are trying to do long term is build assets and customers, these are tangible sellable things. Property right now is getting towards affordable, 20 years from now it will be paid for and a great asset. A composting facility and the equipment to do it with will lead you to many projects and small businesses that you could not even imagine right now. These are businesses that create more assets

    Small business is not for the faint at heart, Hand wringing never created anything but worry, know what you costs are, project them out, look at the bottom line, can you break even and build assets that will be worth much more later

    I own part of a bar/restaurant with a buddy, it has never made money but has always broken even more or less. The property that it is on and the business that it does is worth much more than when purchased 7 years ago, it is almost paid off and has become an asset to build other businesses with, think long term and know your costs
  6. growingdeeprootsorganicly

    growingdeeprootsorganicly LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    good advise bill.

    deep ur complicating this much more then it is, keep learning, go visit tree and see how simple she makes her compost, im assuming she has a front end loader of some kind to turn it? unless she has a real turner to do it

    you need a tractor to make any type of volume, you should pull enough material off your lawns/property's to get you started?

    i would take only seasonal clean up materials from other landscapers
    not grass clippings only

    find a small free/ cheap piece of land somewhere? and start piles, stay away from the manure till you know how to properly blend/compost it, you don't need acres yet

    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 5,134

    never bet the farm on anything as u will lose have a backup plan
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Right now I buy 40lbs bags of compostted manure from the local box stores instead of syn ferts.
    Not a risky business decision for me at all. As long as the results are there and no big price tag everybody is happy.
    It also supports the local farming community. Just as Milorganite has the potential to keep Lake Michigan cleaner, and defer the costs of new water treatment plants.

    Compost Works better on sandy soils than synthetic ferts because it holds moisture, provides feed and habitat for the necessary microbes to feed the plants.
    Syn ferts on sandy soil can actually be dangerous without irrigation, and it will still leach and evaporate, while adding nothing of permanent value to the soil. Compost is not permanent perhaps, but is long lasting enough to be considered that way. :)
  9. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,372

    we have a back up plan established... got that taken care of a few treatments ago... our back up plan is our main plan and the compost is the backup plan? I can't buy compost as there is only crap around here to buy... no pun intended. I have to make my own to get a quality compost...
  10. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,372

    that can't be cheap... that seems to me like buying bags of mulch rather than bulk...

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