charge more for micronutients?

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by americanlawn, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,956

    Yes. We submitted soil sample from just over 200 properties. It was free because we were a volume buyer from Agro-Culture liquid fert (Michigan).

    Loams soils pretty much just lacked nitrogen.

    Clay soil tests revealed a lack of several nutrients. Sulfur was a major one followed by Fe, Mn, Bo, Mg, Zn, copper, and sometimes one or two more. The pH in nearly all clay samples didn't vary much, but they were very high.

    The other thing clay soils lacked = "organic matter". But incorporating organic matter down into the root zone is .................
  2. FdLLawnMan

    FdLLawnMan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,253

    Well the high PH is locking up some of those micronutrients. I also have high PH, 7.2 to 8.0 and I have custom blended all of my fertilizers to contain Ammonium Sulfate. What was helping lower the PH in soils was the acid rain from the coal burning power plants. Now that they have removed the sulfur the soil PH is starting to rise. Farmers have started to notice this in the alfalfa fields.
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,810

    I am not sure I would charge extra--but you could include it as an extra feature. Good sales point.
    "And our exclusive formula contains iron and 4 other micronutrients essential for healthy grass. Only available from Our lawn service. Limited time offer. Call now. "
  4. Skipster

    Skipster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,086

    How could you say that it's an exclusive formula? Is it something proprietary that is made specially for your company only? Is it patented? If not, you can't claim that it's an exclusive formula. The law is very clear on this. Similarly, you can't use a different rate of herbicide than everyone else and say that it's exclusive to you.

    How do you know that it's only available from your paticular lawn service? Is it possible that someone else could use it? Is someone else using it that you don't know about? Do you have the sole rights to it in your market, such that you could sue anyone else who might use it? Could someone else enter the market mid-season and use it? If so, you can't claim exclusivity, either.

    I fought something like this in court and I won. A competitor claimed that his fertilizer was an exclusive formula that was better than what anyone else had and produced better results. I had been using the same product for many years, but he thought he had an inside angle on selling it, so he said that he was the only one using it.

    When looking at this, the courts will assess acessibility, copyright, trademark, patent, and exclusivity agreements. If other people are able to buy it, you don't own the copyright, trademark, or patent, or if you don't have exclusivity agreements with the patent holders, you can be sued. The legal bills alone put the new guy with a $1 million operation out of business.
  5. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,810

    Good point Skip. You are correct.

    I was talking about a "tank mix" rather than a bagged product available from a supplier. Your ratios and micronutrients have to be different than anyone else, of course. Use a different herbicide mixture and surfactant--hopefully better.

    Its always wise to pay him a few dollars and have another company treat your brother-in-laws house--so you can keep an eye on the competition and their formula. (See as much as their paperwork will reveal.)
  6. Skipster

    Skipster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,086

    According to the courts, a tank mix is still not enough to make this claim. The question is not about who is already using that mix, but who *could* use that mix. If anybody could buy the same stuff your buying and mix it in any ratio possible (including the one that you're using), you can't claim that its exclusive or only available from you. It must be a patented product available to no one else. Using different fert ratios, different micronutrients, a different herbicide mixture, or a different surfactant than anyone else in your market is not enough to make those claims, unless you own legal rights to be the only one to use it.

    In the 5 different states I've operated in, I've been required to list on a paper invoice or summary for my customers the products I've used, how much of it I used, and how much of the lawn I treated. They haven't required brand names. If I apply a urea product, I have to list 46-0-0, the pounds used on that lawn, the N rate, and the area covered. If I use a product with slow release, my invoice must say % slow release and source. If I apply herbicides, the active ingredients, CAS #s, EPA reg #s, rates, and area applied must b listed.

    Competitors get this info about us by either taking invoices off of doors while people aren't home or by asking customers for it. We see the competitors' invoices when customers ask us if their current company is doing things the right way.

    When applying chemicals to people's lawns, there is a homeowner right to know (and a public right to know), so there aren't any secrets about the applications like there was 30 yrs ago. If you own a patent on a process or a product, you can advertise it as exclusive. A tank mix is not considered exclusive. You're opening up the OP to a lawsuit with that advice.
  7. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,956

    Holy cow -- sounds like a legal battle here. lmao I'm sorry folks, but we can see "the bags" in lawn care trucks.

    What's the deal about "tank mix"??? Sounds like a liquid program. (reason I say is cuz it's difficult to spray granules out of a tank).

    BTW FD -- Our clay soil pH samples ranged from 7.7 - 8.2. ouch BTW, I like your input (as usual).

    "Chemicals + right to know". Somebody's blowin' smoke (guessing you meant "pesticides" instead of "nutrients"). At least in most states. Whatever.....

    So why can't a hard working outfit boast (inform) customers that he is going out of his way for them? I'm not talking about patents, etc. Merely telling folks we ain't applying the regular/standard stuff. Instead we did research and now are treating their property based upon the most recent scientific data. Then let them know they are getting what experts recommend. Make sure to point out that "specialty products" cost more than "run of the mill" products. A heavy load of micro's costs more for me. Not sure if it's with anybody else's case. Just sayin.
  8. Skipster

    Skipster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,086

    In the 5 states I've operated in (FL, MI, AR, TN, MT), the state dept of ag has required me to list everything I apply to a customer's lawn -- nutrients included. Even if it weren't required, I just think it's the right thing to do. People have kids and pets that play in the lawn. I want them to know what their kids and pets are playing near.

    Going out of your way for them? Most customers already expect that you’re giving their lawn what it needs. While you think that you’ve gone out of your way, your customers view it as simply doing your job. Just like you expect your electrician to figure out and fix electrical problems and you expect your plumber to figure out and fix plumbing problems, your customers expect you to figure out and fix lawn problems. They don’t care if it takes micronutrients, soil amendments, or space aliens.

    I think the best way to sell this would be to tell customers that you’ve noticed soil conditions in the area that result in poor lawn quality. These conditions require special applications to get your lawn to peak performance. We will soil test each lawn and prescribe only what is needed. You sell your expertise to the customer. Anybody can buy a product. Anyone can buy the product you want to use. But, your expertise in recognizing when it’s needed is something the other guys don’t have. They don’t have you.

    But, you can’t say that competitors are using inferior stuff. Chances are that someone out there is using the exact same stuff that you are. Saying things like that is a great way to land yourself in court. Sell your knowledge and your expertise. Don’t play schoolyard shouting games.

    BTW, if you have pH issues that are contributing the micronutrient availability problems, are you doing anything to address pH?
  9. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,956

    Good points. "Going out of our way"?? We never phrase it this way. Badmouth competition?. We have never done that. Never. In all our television ads, radio spots, brochures, etc, etc >> we never even speak of completion. Never have. Never will.

    Regarding pH/nutrient issues >> we are doing our best to stay ahead of most LCO's throughout the Country. We utilize needed nutrients as needed based on the latest scientific data. I will match our company against any other in my area for sure. Our land grant university has helped us alot, but other sources have too (often times more up to date info).

    "Simply doing our job". That's a blanket statement I would expect from a liberal. We rely on facts & current expertise. Like "graduate horticulturists on staff". Wondering how many others this site have them??

    I'll walk away now, but I want you to know we are not simple.
  10. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,162

    Larry, as Skipster said, what are you doing to address your pH problem? That should be your first line of action. Correcting that will make more micronutrients that are in the soil more plant available.

    Increasing soil organic matter is a long term solution that should be incorporated in your program.

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