Fledgling Organic program outline

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by GlorifiedLawnBoy, Feb 10, 2004.

  1. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    Look here


    to get the NPK of most organic materials. Unfortunately CGM is not included, but you can find sources of potash if you feel a need to include it. Grass is a nitrogen hog, not a potash hog, so I'm not worried at all about the apparent lack of potash.

    One of the cool things about organic program is that nutrients do not leech out of the soil. Instead they bind with organic "sponge" elements called humates. When the plants need nutrients, the nature of the sugars exuded by the roots will change. These sugars activate different microbes to provide a sugar/nutrient exchange as GlorifiedLawnBoy has explained.

    I would change a few things. I don't see any need to mow at 2 inches ever, unless you are seeding. And if you are seeding, then CGM is incompatible. So if you need seed, you'll need to reconcile the use of any corn products as fertilizers. I would change the nematodes, too. I applied mine two weeks ago to take care of fleas, ticks, grubs, and thrips - all of which are living in the soil over the winter. So I would move them to early spring with another app late in the summer.

    One thing that is important is to get control of the client's automatic watering devices. If they think they can sustain a healthy lawn while watering for 5 minutes twice a day, every day, they need to be retrained.

    Just because something comes from a living plant, that doesn't make it valuable in organic gardening. Some examples include ricin, anthrax, mycotoxins, rattlesnake venom, nicotine, and alcohol.

    So how should you price the program? As a starting point I would use the hourly rate that plumbers get in your neighborhood and use that for my wage rate. Then for materials, assuming you're buying wholesale you charge retail at the going rate in your neighborhood. Out of the wages and markup, you should be able to pull a normal profit that allows you to pay yourself, provide maintained equipment and fuel, and save for retirement. If you know you can cut 5,000 square feet at a plumber's rate for $25, then that's a good place to start the bidding. I don't see any reason this plan would cost significantly more than a complete synthetic program. The CGM is the only thing that costs a lot more than the synthetic product it replaces.
  2. GlorifiedLawnBoy

    GlorifiedLawnBoy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    TimTurf points out that at the rate we will be applying GCM the nitrogen content will be at 2# in the first month of spring. I infer he expects the grass will grow like crazy and that this growth will be blade growth at the expense of root growth leaving the plant weak in the summer.
    Will the grass demand excessive amounts of nitrogen and/ or will soil microbe’s breakdown the organic matter providing excessive nitrogen to the plants?
    The nematodes for grubs, sod webworms and chinch bug larvae are only viable between 65 -78 degrees or there about - that will not happen here in Maryland until late spring. Also they require damp conditions to move around in and our soil is still frozen. Texas springs start earlier.:D
    As for mowing @ 2" to remove most of the blade in spring as grasses begin to come out of winter dormancy may promote healthy new blades (Grasses are Tall Fescues with some mix of Bluegrass and or Rye). Also this may also help by removing any diseased or damaged blades.
  3. GlorifiedLawnBoy

    GlorifiedLawnBoy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    As for cost of program.
    We have found based on the costs of materials and application this program will run $200 dollars more for a 5000 sq. ft. lawn then our full service program that also includes mowing. We are still struggling to find product and prices to lower the costs. (Note: the cost of materials and labor do not total $200 that is how much more we need to charge to match profit margins of the regular program - this is a business after all.:D )
  4. I believe turfgrass needs between 65 and 75% of total nitrogen!!!!!!!!!

    I wouldn't exceed the cutting height of 3 inches for cool season turf! I USUALLY mow between 2.25 and 2.75 INCHES, but their are some exceptions!

    Why don't you use a product low in n, p, but high in k ( sulfate of potash ), with a pre emerge! Example 5-5-20, or 8-4-34 Almost all of this product would fall under YOUR definition of organic!

    Use an organic program on a high sand soil, and you will have leaching. Soils with a low CEC can't hold the nutrients!!!

    I think a totally natural and organic program will not give the necessary results, BUT a program that use a very high % of natural and organic fertilizers can give desires results at an high but acceptable cost!!!!!!!!!
    Please list a web site that I can learn about the following.

    When the plants need nutrients, the nature of the sugars exuded by the roots will change. These sugars activate different microbes to provide a sugar/nutrient exchange as GlorifiedLawnBoy
  5. GlorifiedLawnBoy

    GlorifiedLawnBoy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37


    Tall Fescues are the happiest @ 4" last year we never cut below 3.5" and we had one lawn that we maintained at 3.75" that was in the best condition we ever seen a lawn of Tall Fescue. Of course we had a ton of rain here as well.
  6. Tall Fescues are the happiest @ 4"

    ARE YOU talking about tall fescue or turf type tall fescue?
    A lot of the newer tt tall fescue are being breed to be dwarf!

    Tall fescue growin as a forage grass, then 4" maybe allright, but for tt tall fescue, that is too high
  7. G lawnboy,

    Took a quick look at http://www.soilfoodweb.com, looked under SFI approach, under 12 steps to improve soil, under step 4

    "Often soil tests will indicate that some nutrient is in low supply, but merely by adding the appropriate bacterial or fungal species, these organisms will convert plant unavailable nutrients into plant available forms."

    A SOIL TEST TELLS YOU WHAT IS IN THE SOIL, NOT WHAT THE PLANT IS TAKING UP. A plant tissue test will better inform you what the plant is taking up! Now if soil test says nutrient level are in proper balance ( base saturation is correct), that eliminates nutrients and ph, so maybe the soil will need to have additional fungi or bacteria add to the soil. Again, I wouldn't think this would be a problem unless om of soil is very low or soil was imprperly fertilized. ( grossly mis applied, or irrigated with sodium water)

    The creatures of the soil need food, water, air to survive. soil creatures thrive on om with a balance of carbon to nitrogen, 30-1, and carbon in the form of carboyhdrates is the main food source for soil organisms. The complex carbon comes from existing om in the soil, fertilizer containing carbon or from the continueing process of the turfgrass roots dying off.
  8. GlorifiedLawnBoy

    GlorifiedLawnBoy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    Please note the following excerpt from The 12 steps

    "The FUNCTIONS of a healthy foodweb are:

    Retention of nutrients so they do not leach or volatilize from the soil. Reduction or complete deletion of inorganic fertilizer applications is possible.
    Cycling nutrients into the right forms at the right rates for the plant desired. The right ratio of fungi to bacteria is needed for this to happen, as well as the right numbers and activity of the predators."

    The organisms in the soil retain the nutrients so that they do not leach or volatilize. You should be able to dump as much organic matter into the soil and have no problems of excess nitrogen being released. Else where in this site I read perhaps in the publication section there is information an how the organisms keep nitrogen to themselves until the plants ask for it. Also there was mention of how the plants will only ask for nitrogen up to the point that it stores enough for seed production at which point demand stops and microorganism populations begin to reduce from lack of sugars from plants. In effect there also will be less consumption of organics and the consequent production of nitrogen.
  9. GlorifiedLawnBoy

    GlorifiedLawnBoy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    Inoculating the FoodWeb is accomplished by the use of composts or better by Compost Tea. Once established the FoodWeb needs to be "fed" by the application of organic matter.

    It is interesting to note that nutrients and elements may not be readable by normal soil tests as they are locked away in the bodies of the microorganisms. As a industry we have been adding elements that may already exist in the soil if it contains a healthy population of microorganisms. Normal soil tests may need to be upgraded to include the testing for organics as well.
    One indication of a healthy FoodWeb is large populations of earthworms. If you find your turf has large amounts of earthworms it may be that all you need to maintain it is organic matter.
    This is all interesting but It will take experimentation on my part and further study until I can say with confidence and authority that maintaining a balanced foodweb only requires organics.
  10. G lawnboy,
    Quote"s from G lawn boy
    "Normal soil tests may need to be upgraded to include the testing for organics as well." ALL MY SOIL TEST STATE % of organic matter!!!!!

    The point I was trying to make was that a soil test tells you what is in the soil, but for numerous reason, it may not be available to the plant?
    WHY? Improper base saturation, ph not correct for turfgrass planted, rock powder to slow in releasing, soil can't hold nutrients due to low CEC

    " begin to reduce from lack of sugars from plants " WHERE DOES THE SUGAR FROM PLANTS COME FROM?

    Aren't we adding organic matter from decomposing roots and leaf tissue, especially if you don't remove clipping. We are always applying organic matter from mowing if clipping returned.

    "should be able to dump as much organic matter into the soil and have no problems of excess nitrogen being released. " THAT STATEMENT IS FALSE

    I don't think using organics is bad, in fact My program usually contains @ 50 % organic for the season!

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