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Crunching the numbers (there is no way organic costs =or< synthetic costs)

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by lawncuttinfoo, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. lawncuttinfoo

    lawncuttinfoo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,010

    For all of the people who are saying, "I switched over to organic and my customers don't know since my costs are the same"

    Please explain in detail.

    Go for it. Let's see some figures. :)
  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    I can speak for beneficial microorganism or compost tea part

    Our compost tea has an NPK of 2-0-2 with micronutrients, we claim 0.1% iron on the label, mycorrhizae, trichoderma, Mycorrhizae Helper Bacteria, at a cost of $0.67 per 1000 square feet at list price

    some one correct me if I'm wrong but I believe nutrients plus 4-3-3 comes in just over $1.50 per 1000 square feet treated for tractor trailer load commitments

    I am unsure of the Bradfield Organics cost for their bagged 4-3-3, I'll try to find out

    $0.67 + $1.50 = $2.17 per 1000 at list price

    this however is not an apples to apples as it does not include spot spraying for weeds
  3. Elden

    Elden LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    I've been reading the organic site for a while and haven't heard anyone say that you only have to go to a yard two times a year if you treat it organically.

    I think your price is low. For a 10,000 sq ft lawn your price would only be at $230 for the year. The company I used to work for had a synthetic program and they would charge $650/yr for a 6 application program on a 8-10 k lawn. All be it things are probly a little different in Fl.

    Personally I think there would have to be more than two applications. When I start my program next year I will probly be doing a 8-10 visit program. May seem like alot but I want to be able to catch any problems and resolve them quickly. Going every 6 months there's no telling what could happen in that time span.
  4. lawncuttinfoo

    lawncuttinfoo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,010

    Ya i'm only talking pricing, so whatever applications you need to make it work.

    Oh sorry I am refering to single bag pricing, (nutriants plus has a 1 pallet 1 ton min.) But lets go with it.

    For your $2.17 number, how many applications of this per year? Also remember to figure in brewing labor (Let's say $0.40 per 1K that would be $6 for a 5 gal brew to cover 15,000 sq ft)

    After all my costs are figured, my organic program comes in at an average 1.8 times my synthetic price.
  5. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    Lawn cutting info
    There is no brew time with our product you simply add Instant Compost Tea to water in the field and spray immediately. Its our 1-2-3 Mix & Spray system

    These are difficult apples to compare to each other. The organic program is trying to raise Soil Organic Matter to 5% to 7%, once this level is reached there are no more inputs needed until soil testing shows that the SOM reading is slipping, what? maybe every 5 years or so. Compost teas are applied maybe 2 or 3 times a year at the desired SOM level.

    So an organic program has more inputs and cost up front, say the first 2 years, maybe 3 but long term there are fewer and fewer inputs. Because disease suppression and less weeds in the lawn is typical with a healthy soil, pesticide inputs are cut dramatically.

    With a fertilizer program you will weed & feed every year ad infinitum

    But lets play the game and analyze costs over 5 years on one property

    The suggested program for a transition property is
    Soil Sample
    Core aerate
    Spray Compost Tea
    (you could add a Bradfield Organics or Nutrients Plus product here)
    cover with 1/8 to 1/4 inch of compost
    In that order
    This is done each fall (you could do it spring and fall) until SOM levels reach at least above 2% hopefully nearer to 5%

    But I digress, let me put some figures together I have been meaning to do this for a while. Could we agree on some pricing for the transition program above, what do you charge for the services above
  6. lawncuttinfoo

    lawncuttinfoo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,010

    my average: per 1K

    Soil Sample $XX per prop
    Core aerate $XX-$XX
    over-seed $X-$XX
    Spray Compost Tea $XX per ap up to 15K sq ft
    (you could add a Bradfield Organics or Nutrients Plus product here) I'm applying CGM @ 40 lb per 1K at ~$32 per 1K
    cover with 1/8 to 1/4 inch of compost: too labor intensive

    (warning for lurkers planning on using this info to start a business(I've been there), these prices are what works for my supply/labor chain, it would be VERY easy to lose money just by punching these numbers into your plan. Take the time and figure out how much you want to make and how much it will cost you, 75% of start up lawn companies go out of business within 3 years for a reason.)
  7. lawncuttinfoo

    lawncuttinfoo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,010

    That was my COST for a smaller lawn, actual price with profit included and larger lawns would vary.

    I was actually trying to demonstrate that there is no way a lawn can be transitioned to organic at that cost, like people are saying "my costs are the same" ya right
  8. lawncuttinfoo

    lawncuttinfoo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,010

    ICT bill

    I can see how an organic lawn can eventually be cheaper. I was mostly refering to those who claim:
    "I switched to organic this year and my customers don't know because my costs are the same"

    Thus saying that a transition program is equal to the cost of synthetic, would you agree that this is false?
  9. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    That's fair and I understand where you are coming from, you are talking about a granular to granular swap out, one synthetic and one organic based.

    We will have to wait for a Bradfield organics or Nutrient plus or someone else that does organic based ferts to chime in.

    I will still put together cost over time analysis of both procedures, I may not get it done tomorrow but I'll get it here as quick as I can

    I think this is a great exchange of info, thanks for bringing the subject up
  10. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    10,000K of lawn -> reduced to 1,000K of lawn = significant savings + more sustainable solution. :)

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