Does anyone run an organic lawn service?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by jmartmel, Jul 28, 2001.

  1. earthcare

    earthcare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    <p>I've operated a non-toxic lawncare service since 1995 in northern Indiana and have found that for the vast majority of cases, materials that pose virtually no risk to the customer, his kids or his pets are available, effective and affordable.

    <p>Insecticidal soaps & oils are extremely effective but require operators to do more than show up and hose down the landscape. Weeds in lawns can be an insurmountable problem if the turf is thin and the customer insists on a 2" mowing height. But then again, that same lawn would still have constant weed problems even with the use of standard herbicides.

    <p>My approach of providing optimum growing conditions for the desired plant and treating pests with materials that pose minimal risk to the customer and his family isn't for everyone. Some people won't tolerate anything but the lowest price. I've found they aren't on my customer list very long regardless at which point I price them.
  2. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    Dear Sir,

    The reason life expectancy has increased is due PARTLY to improved PRODUCTION, transportation, & storage of food. At the risk of sounding like I actual enjoy eating pesticides, I must share a secret with you. The post WW2 population explosion (myself included) would have starved to death years ago were it not for sustainable high yeild agriculture. (In other words, I'd rather eat pesticides than die and so would you if you knew more about what you're saying.) Agriculture relies on pesticide treatments for production, prior to & often during transportation, & just prior to storage in the case of virtually all grains. While I certainly agree that refrigeration is important, it is primarily a benefit to beef & other meats. Vegetable and grain crops are not refrigerated at the grower/wholesale level. Vegetables are shipped quick & cooled very near and in market. Grains are never refrigerated. Although I'll admit that if it were economically feasible to refrigerate grains, then pre-storage insecticide treatments would probably not be needed. The improvements in Citrus production in the Southern United States has absolutely improved the health of all North Americans & modern freight/commerce is a critical part of it I agree. Indeed part of the standard of living improvements in South America, are the direct result of North Americas demand for year round Citrus availablity and the financial rewards that come from it.

    I'm sure that some third world nations have seen improvements in their mortality. (But 1000%? Show me that one in writing.) But only after they have been taught by westerners how to engage in proper modern agriculture practices. Neither Europe nor Asia have contributed much in the lines of significant ag-chem advances (although watch Japan) when compared to the USA. Seems as though they've learned a few things about manufacturing & high-tech from us while they were at it too.

    I'm not sure about Canada, but in the US we have more homes hooked up to clean, potable drinking water than & other nation on earth. I certainly won't debate the advantages. I even irrigate my occasionally pesticide treated lawn with potable water. Hey, I pay the bill so...

    At this point I will admit that one currently registered fungicide is capable of breaking down into a suspected carcinogen. Mancozeb (one of several EBDC pesticides) can, usually when heated, break down into ethylenethiourea, a probable carcinogen. The FDA has limited its uses for this reason and I'm just as pleased as you. If you have data which proves that a currently used turf & ornamental pesticide is a known carcinogen, please respond by linking us with the data in this forum. I will provide references to my claims.

    It is still worth noting however, that the quality of life as we know it today is partly made possible by the continuous production of high quality produce & vegetables. The proper & discriminate use of pesticides in their production is a fact whether you like it or not. At least here in the US, consumers have a choice. If someone wants to purchase Organic Produce, they are free to do so. If a consumer wants conventionally produced vegetables, they are free to do that to. (Interestingly, the liklihood of a non-meat food poisoning incident increases dramatically when organic produce is compared to convential produce) Please see :
    Freedom to choose is what the United States is all about. Please see the following:
    Here in the US, ALL cancers are on the decline. Thank God. If you know of one that isn't. Name it. Never in my entire career have I been made aware of the parent of a child recently diagnosed with cancer, being asked by the pediatrician if pesticides are used in their neighborhood. Never. I would then ask you to substantiate your claim in this forum. Please quote or link a credible source for this data. From this point forward, as I present my veiwpoint, I will try to do the same for your benefit. Please review the National Cancer Institute annual report which covers the study period 1992-1998.
    Childrens leukemia cases are being detected earlier than at any time in history. This is because treatment beginning at or around age 4, results in a very high success rate. Delays in treatment can be disasterous. Therefore more early detection is taking place. I cannot confirm your allegation that more cases are occurring. If this is the case, then please document your claim in writing from a credible source. Not a liberal Special Interest Group. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the only environmental issues being considered are the mothers prenatal exposures to various forms of radiation. There may be a link here to childhood leukemia. I hope the cause is found myself, as I grew up with a victim who is no longer with us. I do not believe that pesticides are being considered as a credible potential cause. Prove me wrong.

    You allege that government as a regulatory body, should be held accountable for any wrongs done anyone by anything they regulate. Not on my vote they aren't. While I cannot speak for anyone other than myself ( and my party), a government that is by the people & for the people, is not responsible for the acts of CORPORATIONS even if the corporations products are regulated by the government. It is a corporations responsibility to insure the safety of its products. It's insurers then financially underwrite what is believed to be the safety of the consumer. The consumer is and should be able to decide for themselves what they feel is in their best interest. Government should keep itself out of these decisions. Particularly when those individuals who claim harm is being done cannot even prove it. As you pointed out, one of the most dangerous things we do is drive an automoblie or truck. Would you then have your precious gonernment take away your choice to drive because you might hurt yourself? Or would you embrace the new law & profit from it by selling horses?

    Listen up now, this is where the Star Spangled Banner starts playing.
    Since I live in a free society, I will decide for myself if I want my lawn to be pretty by treating it. If someone dosen't like it, they are invited to stay off of it. If I don't want mosquitoes in my yard biting my friends & family, it is my decision to fog it to eliminate said mosquitoes, as long as I don't contaminate anyone else's property in the course of doing so. If I do contaminate someone else's property, I then must assume responsibility for my actions. If the product I used is deemed defective and I used it in accordance with law, then the manufacturer is responsible. Why should Congress pay anyone? I don't want congress to have one more dollar than they need to get by.

    With respect to West Nyle Virus, I did indeed check with the three hospitals that I deal with, though there are many, many more in metro NY.
    Columbia Presbyterian Hosp, St. Agnes Host, & St. Vincents Hosp.'s are all customers of mine either by means of in house staff or long term contractual relations. I have the contacts at all three and checked them. I doubt I ever needed to. If you know anything about Liberal New York Media people, you'd know that they were snooping around almost constantly and the world never would have heard the end of it had a pesticide poisoning taken place.

    I often equate pharmaceuticals with pesticides. Both were born around the same time and both came of age as a direct result of the US (& other) military efforts during WorldWar2. Both products are designed to kill something to beneifit another. Both are the result of chemists & micro biologists usually working together. And both will benefit from the still infintile field of Genetic Engineering. Indeed many pharmaceutical companies also manufacture pesticides. Bayer, Monsanto, Aventis. Not to fuel the paranoid conspiracy theorists, but rather because the fields are nearly identical in research & manufacturing requirements. Labling laws, government approvals, insurance requirements, marketing needs, & distribution are all too similar to overlook.

    Amazingly we do agree that a bad landscape is a good bet that some sort of corrective action will be required. Weather organic, bio-rational, or chemical, some form of help will be adminstered (hopefully by an educated, liscenced, & insured professional) to prevent the premature death of plant material.

    Please note that I respectfully request you provide links to major U.S. universities, Government agencies, or other VALID concerns to substantiate claims made in the prior post. If no link can be provided. A valid phone number or address will suffice. Or fax data to below.

    Thanks in advance,
    Fax 203-378-7087
  3. OrganicLawnGuy

    OrganicLawnGuy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    I just wanted to quickly commend you for a very well thought out letter. Too often environmentalists and industrialists just yell at each other. Unfortunately it pretty much ends our discussion if you are restricting studies to ONLY the New England Journal of Medicine! Also, it should here be stated that I'm in Canada and not the United States, so I know nothing about happenings in New York. Before heading off to work I just wanted to reply to some of the biggie's of your letter.
    When I mentioned government I did not state what you reiterated in your letter, and keep in mind our government is far different than yours. Here in Canada the government is not only in charge of testing applicant's pesticide products, they have also heavily invested in the research of most companies. Even government labs are now mainly doing work in partnership with private corporations. I think you'd agree that somebody with a financial interest in a product doesn't make for the most objective party in its testing.
    The big argument here is one that we cannot really resolve because it is based on an ideological difference. You claim that South America's current 'prosperity' is based primarily on our need for citrus and other fruits (bananas, plantains, etc.). Here we differ since I do not see South America as particularly 'prosperous'. I think five centuries of colonialism is the worst thing that could have happened to them, and most SA countries are barely teetering on their 'developing country' status. However, this is a difference in interpretation. However, using the case of bananas as an example, a quite healthy item I'm sure you'd agree. Bananas are shipped prior to maturity and then treated chemically by a chemical which is available in apples. If you wanted to accomplish the same thing organically you can simply put bananas with apples and they will ripen. My runabout point here is simply that every chemical is not the same, and so blanket statements about ALL chemicals somehow being bad is not often used. You may use pesticides and pharmaceuticals in the same sense since they each provide a benefit, but then taxicabs provide a benefit as well-I don't think we'd use them in the same sense.
    Finally, I have not been referring here to chemicals used in agriculture. That is another whole issue, however I will disagree with you that developing countries have bettered because of their reliance on 'modern agricultural practises'. The main issue in 'banning' (and most agree that even in banning, all chemicals won't be discontinued) from municipalities is simply the use of chemicals in keeping weeds and pests off a lawn. As far as sites go about this simply go to the american Environmental Protection Agency site and it lists all the chemicals and then side effects. Diazinon has been discontinued, as have many others ('phased out' in their parlance). The idea that such poisons should be used to control a less than 1/2 acre piece of land is surely one of the silliest. As has been said before, such chemicals really are not necessary. If they are not necessary then I think that those who are claiming their ill effects should get the benefit of the doubt. As far as looking at sites to see their possible effects, instead I'll just recommend you go look at the symbols on the bag/bottle. That skull and crossbones doesn't mean it was imported by pirates.
    Again, time to get to work but I will add again that it was a very good reply letter that you wrote. As you say, it is your business what you put on your lawn, but I think the times are changing when you can say "prove that it harms you", to the community saying "prove that it doesn't". If runoff were not a problem the city of Guelph nearby wouldn't have twice the synthetic chemicals that even Toronto does. Also, in Canada we do not have the legal recourses to hold people accountable that you do in the states.
  4. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 424

    This is a great thread!:confused:

    HBFOXjr. "Any suggestions how to sell good irrigation systems to people who want to regard them as a commodity where all are equal and to be purshased at the lowest price?"

    I agree about irrigation and the importance for the maintenance of turf. This got me thinking about ways to promote irrigation systems and it always seems to stick on price. I wonder if leasing the system to the client is a viable answer. Just about everything else can be leased and if done right it could be quite profitable.

    Tie in with complete lawn care?

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