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Getting started in organic

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Woodland, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. Woodland

    Woodland LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 207

    Next season I'd like to start offering a more defined organic lawn care program. This year I've tried to steer my customers in that direction but without a whole lot of materials to back up the push. I plan to spend the winter season researching and getting some stuff together. In the meantime I have a few questions.

    1. There is a lot of material, printed and online, about Milorganite, including a lenghty thread on this site. My old employer used the stuff quite often as did I. My local turf supplier, however, does not carry Milorganite but rather a product called Baystate Organic Fertilizer. It is the same type of product - made from biosolids, but does not have nearly the research paper trail that Milorganite does. Knowing the controvery or concerns that have surrounded Milorganite, I am a little concerned that this Baystate might not be as "safe". Does anyone else use this Baystate product that could offers some insight or know of more research that is available for it?

    2. There was another post in this forum concerning starting an organic program in which nocutting replied "you need a program that matchs the chemicals guys program, app for app" From my limited experience in OG this summer, I can certainly see the importance of this. I had two customers that cringed when I told them that they wouldn't see an immediate response to the organic fert. Add that to the fact that it is more expensive, they aren't really listening when you get to the "better in the long run" part of the pitch! Has anyone tried spiking their organic apps with a high nitrogen source such as urea or bloodmeal to give the customer a more immediate green up? I realize that as the program progresses, this shouldn't be necessary because the lawn will never have a down period from lack of fert. I am thinking about on the first few apps.

    3. Any suggestion on books to read this winter? I have a copy of Paul Sachs book which is excellent but tends more towards general theory than practical application.
  2. NattyLawn

    NattyLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,643

    I didn't find much on Baystate via the web, except it looks like its made by the MWRA. If you want organic ferts with a little kick, take a look at http://www.nutrientsplus.com. The 7-2-12 and 16-2-3 might be good starting ferts, as they have added urea.
    I would just go organic if that's the route you plan to go. You sell safety (environmental and familial), and the in the long run organics will save them money, as they won't need as many apps as often.
  3. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 720

    Considering a "bridge" program to start off new accounts? Many, if not all, fertilizer manufacturers sell a few blends that contain a percentage of biosolids. There are some outstanding products out there that give excellent results, but now you're getting into the "greens grade/golf course quality" category. Top shelf fertilizers - with prices to match! A good example is Lesco's Novex. It is an excellent fertilizer with 30% biosolids. It is expensive but gives excellent results. A bad example is Lesco's 15-3-7: 50% biosolids, SCU and MOP. Again, pricey but you see results.

    You may also wish to talk to a distributor in your area. They work with custom blenders that can blend any combination you wish, though you may run into prohibitive minimum qtys required; 2 tons or even 6 tons. But custom blenders will mix you a "dream blend analysis" of whatever you desire.

    But your checkbook - and your ability to make a good margin in a highly competitive market - may be the most limiting factors here.

    Do more searches. Know the turfgrasses and soils for your area. Fertilizing is a fascinating and highly complex subject. There are a lot of good things to be gleaned from this forum as well as the Fertilizer and Pesticide forum here.
  4. AlpineNaturescapes

    AlpineNaturescapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 149

    "A bad example is Lesco's 15-3-7: 50% biosolids, SCU and MOP. Again, pricey but you see results."

    Is this a bad example because of the MOP? I would think 50% biosolids and the rest SCU is a good example of bridge fert. I might look into it for next fall.
  5. jimmdenver

    jimmdenver LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    My hat off to you woodland! I don't know much about organic myself, but I admire your efforts to keep our planet clean!
  6. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Fanatic
    from zone 6
    Messages: 6,118

    Miorganite is around 7% N if my memory serves me correct. IMO you can get plenty enough go with this number without subsidising syn. N especially if you bump the fall rate .

    I see turf response using organic materials in two to three weeks, planning for this is no problem IMO. I would save any syn N applications for when soil temps drop below 50 degrees for cool season turf.
  7. nocutting

    nocutting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 530

    #1, both the same product, but you may note that the Micros may differ as its from a different region [ as states are becomeing more aware, some are retailing / wholesalein out there sh_t] NY for instance has a 24-7 plant that makes bio-solids fert in the Bronx, all that wonderful fert goes to Florida by the train load to feed the citrus trees [ sheds a whole new light on fresh squeezed, doesnt it?]...........................................................................#2,Urea, as commonly found is not really organic[ urea and bio-solids have never been approved by any Organic Horticultural group or any organic food producers, for use in a "Organic Lawn / Landscape Program"].....but with alittle research "Knocking it up" as you say?.......how about iron, epsom salts or chealean nitrate? [ to speed that deep dark green we all love so much?]....if its color your after, itstead of giveing it a quick fix like our chemical competion, look for improved turf varieties?[ seems logical doesent it]...Not as fast?.....More expensive?......"These are words from somebody that needs to do more research".....sure if you buy everything with a "Brand -Name", you're gonna pay more for it!!!!!!..................................................#3.....Book names?...ahhhhh old age has set in and the mind is alittle weak?....But I'm sure somebody in the "Organic Forum" will come to my rescue?.....Good Luck and:bday: lol,lol,lol.::cool2: :alien: :rolleyes:
  8. NattyLawn

    NattyLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,643

    Sorry, didn't get a chance to edit my post, as the little bit of urea in the Nutrients Plus ferts means they aren't organic...We used iron in the spring to green up some lawns as well....
  9. Woodland

    Woodland LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 207

    I'm not really concerned with what "they" deem to be organic. The way I see it, we produce alot of biosolids and need to find something to do with it. Obviously you need to treat that with chemicals to eliminate pathogens, etc. but whether it gets turned into compost/fertilizer or not, those chemicals will still be used so why not find a consistant use for the end product. (I will admit that I do not use any biosolids products in my vegetable garden and I don't disuade my customers from skipping that as well. This is in spite of knowing that composted biosolid products harbor less pathogens than most other animal manures.)

    As far as urea is concerned, I'm not sure what it is or why it isn't "organic", but there are other alternative, as you mentioned (epsom salts or chealean nitrate).

    That color that I'm after, is a first year fix. Lets face it, up front costs for organic are more than traditional chemical applications. I can buy a balanced turf fertilizer from my wholesaler for $5 or $6 while an equivilant organic fert is nearly $10 per bag. Plus the effects are not as noticable as quickly. My problem or concern is in convincing a customer that more money upfront will be worth it in the long run. My thought is, and maybe I'm wrong, if I can show them a green, lush lawn like they are used to seeing after a chemical fertilizer application, I can more easilly persuade them to give organic a try. Once the program is in place and the lawn begins to respond to the organic benefits, I can eliminate the "chemical boost" and they will be none the wiser.
  10. nocutting

    nocutting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 530

    Hi Kevin, just wanted to keep you above board if possible?.....sure you can be an "Organic Based or Organic Approach" Company if you choose, than you can use anything you want? and for as long as you want?lol,lol,lol,.....Good Luck in your endeverors:waving: :alien:

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