Commercial Organic Lawn Care Program

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Hamons, Sep 15, 2003.

  1. Would the moderator please define organic!!!!!!!!!!!

    I think this needs to be defined for this thread and this forum

    Organic means many things to different people

  2. yardmonkey

    yardmonkey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 341

    If it means many things to many people, then there are many definitions.

    If it means many things to many people and there are many people participating here, then there will always be many different uses for the term here.

    Each of us can define what it means to us, and use any info in that context. There has been a lot of talk here about synthetic chemicals. Not usually considered "organic", but the discussion has been very useful and interesting. Plus many people may define their own organic lawn care program as including some chemicals when necessary. Some may define it as no chemicals ever. In either case, it seems like anything discussed here should be of interest. It would not serve any purpose to limit the discussions or prohibit certain topics. And it may be impractical to include disclaimers and definitions with every post and thread.

    Just my opinions......
  3. If we are discussing organics, we need to define them, so everybody is on the same page!!!

  4. If we are discussing organics, we need to define them, so everybody is on the same page!!!

  5. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    If someone will define vegetarian, I'll define organic :D One of my uncles was a vegetarian. He ate cheese, eggs, milk, and used leather products. Other vegetarians will not eat any of those but will eat chicken and fish. Others will not eat any of the above but will eat foods tested on animals. Others will not eat any food tested on animals or use any product that an animal had a hand in bringing to market. Get the drift here?

    Here's my take on organic as it applies to gardening. If the product was once living, and is "relatively unprocessed," then it is organic and safe to use on a lawn. An example of good ones are ground seeds, beans, and nuts. An example of bad ones are pyrethrum extracted from chrysanthemums and nicotine extracted from tobacco. These might be safe for the microbes, but not for people, in my OPINION. You and your customers may have a different opinion. Ground bones, animal organs, and dried blood are also organic fertilizers, but I prefer to stay away from them because I don't know how to use them without getting that funky smell. Personal preference. I think of vinegar and alcohol as being borderline organics. They are both distilled from organic sources, but the distillation process is a LOT like chemical processing. The government allows them. I wouldn't use alcohol because it definitely kills microbes.

    Inorganic chemicals, synthetics if you prefer, include ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate, potassium sulfate, ammonium phosphate, urea, methyleneurea, 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, 2-(2-Methyl-4-chlorophenoxy) propionic acid, Calcium acid methanearsonate, monoammonium phosphate, ferrous sulfate, manganese oxide, manganese sulfate, Permethrin, Bifenthrin, Diazinon, Sevin, carbaryl, Thiophanate-methyl, picloram, clopyralid, and many, many more including synonyms for the above. There are some chemicals which are allowed to be used in organic programs. I'm not sure why. Magnesium sulfate comes to mind.

    Now, trying to reattach this discussion with the original post, maybe I've already said some of this, in my opinion you can use selective herbicides on spot applications and not do any serious damage on acreage. Broadcast applications will do more damage to soil microbes over the entire area, but recovery is relatively easy using compost with an organic fertilizer. Using herbicide does not mean you may as well use Lesco's synthetics. If you're looking for an excuse to not use organic fertilizers, this is not it.

    If you want an easy way to see how organic fertilizers work, take a handful of your wife's corn meal and sprinkle it on an area about the size of a dinner plate in an unfertilized field somewhere. Do the same with a handful of Lesco and mark the two spots. Come back every two days for a month and see what happens. I'm not trying to say that the corn meal will out perform the chemical, but you will find it does a credible job simply by feeding the microbes. Then go back in two months and again in three to see how the spots are doing. You don't have to fall in love with the stuff, but you should at least acknowledge that it does work so you can sound convincing when selling to the client.

    One more point from the original message about using "cheap" Lesco fertilizers. If you are comparing Lesco's prices against commercial branded organic fertilizers, you have an excellent point that the organics are more expensive. But when you compare Lesco's prices against buying alfalfa pellets or corn meal in bulk, the race is almost neck and neck. Then if you get the results I think you will with the organic war on weeds and insect pests, the cost starts to favor the organic program because the organic program will have fewer problems. I think the pros on this list who are already using organic fertilizers will confirm this finding. And if you do have problems, the organic solutions are less expensive than the chemical ones and do not lead to other problems requiring repeat applications or different products used in a serial fashion.

    "Other problems?" For example, when you spray an insecticide to kill aphids, you will necessarily kill any ladybugs, ladybug larvae, trichogramma wasps, and/or any other natural predators on the plants along with the aphids. It turns out the aphids have a more efficient reproduction system and can return in 7-10 days with another generation of offspring but the ladybugs cannot. If left completely alone on organic fertilizers and no insecticides, the natural insect controls will give you 100% control. But this is only an insect issue, not a weed issue.
  6. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    tim, it has been pretty much decided that "organic lawn care" can only be defined by each person at this point, to suit his own ideas. What Dave is saying is that we must draw out a potential organic client to determine what his perception of "organics" is. Does client absolutely prohibit any synthetics? If so, is he ready to have some blemishes in lawn that cannot be controlled organically?

    I had a good client for 10 years, but he succumbed to the synthetics/pesticide fears, even though I explained what I was using. Did nothing for him for 2 years, but this spring he called because he was hammered by grubs last year, and I treated with Merit for this years' crop. Again late July he called, was having an event in 2-3 weeks and lawn was really bad. (Property is on the river, and with all the rain this year, in one section of lawn there was hardly a leaf not infected with DS or RT.) I've got some old jugs of Daconil and Fungo, so I could knock out the problems, and gave lawn a shot of fert, and lawn was great for his event.

    With the info from Dave here, I just suggested to him that he could manage his lawn organically, and he was gung-ho about the idea. But when I offered to bring him the printed info so he could start now, he said I had to do it! Dang, I guess I'm organic now, Dave! But not until next year if I find I can operate legally and solve the logistics of application.
  7. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    Well how about that?!? I guess all good things must come to an end, Jim. :D
  8. woodycrest

    woodycrest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 435


    THe logistics is the easy part...glad to hear it!!

  9. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Messages: 833

    For properties that are ON a river or in an obvious drainage system organic and low-impact processes make extreme sense!

    In my town ALL of the street gutteres eventually drain into our local river. I love to fish. But I do not eat the fish from downstream of town basicly. If I want a fishy dinner I go upstream of town for obvious reason.

    So if you are interested in marketing a new organic program to potential customers, those in riparian areas are easy customers when they stop to think to about it. They like being on a river, and they will want to protect it if possible.
  10. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    Good grief, is organics just a cult? Lots of babble, no fact!

    Logistics is easy, but no one has given a clue to how to spread cornmeal or any other pure organic product. And how about the legalities. Is all organics just under the table work?

    The runoff of lawn chemicals has long been a bone picked by anti-whoevers. Been tested and studied many times, both vertical leaching and lateral runoff. If you are maintaining a healthy lawn, there is very little runoff of any kind. But the uninformed still rag about runoff.

    The half life of clopyralid in soil is 40 days. That is longer than most turf pesticides, but hardly indicates that it persists for years. The recent clopyralid scare was because it was found in supposedly finished compost. The question was not asked why some fool bagged his grass right after a lawn spraying, nor was it asked if the compost facility was processing properly. Nor was it asked if some radical activist poured clopyralid into the compost, LOL. Clopyralid was a Dow product, and the patent was just about to run out, so the maker did not wish to argue. (Dow is ultra conservative: as soon as the radicals banded together years ago to find a problem with 2,4-D, Dow dropped 2,4-D from all their product line.) Clopyralid use will not be allowed on residential turf in the future. A much more harmful common herbicide is worth worrying about: dicamba is root absorbed by woody ornamentals, but you have a hard time finding any manufacturer that does not use dicamba in some major product lines.

    And I apologize for the error above about 2,4-D being an aging hormone. Was trying to remember from class in the 80s. It is technically a plant hormone (auxin) mimic. OMG, auxin has an "x" in it, and so does dioxin, so auxin must be some horrible chemical?

    Is Dave the only one to give any sensible info in this forum, and everyone else is just here to rage about their feelings about chemicals and spout misinformation?

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