new to organics but doing my homework

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by hotwired, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. hotwired

    hotwired LawnSite Member
    from maine
    Messages: 49

    HI Gang
    Well I've done some more research with moving to organic program and this is what I'm going to try but I have a question or two.

    1. foregoing the "nutrients plus" program. By the time I got thru my initial price jumped 60% because I wasn't buying a full truckload. I really don't like the whole "tractor trailer, pay extra for a drop ramp, pay extra for making appt., etc." anyway. I do 400,000 sq. ft. of turf 2-3 times per year.

    2. Going with lesco dimension for my early app. My reasearch on Corn Gluten tells me that there is about a 90 second window of opportunity to put this stuff down and the jury is still out as to whether it even works period.

    3. Going with Espoma "turf tone" which is 'enriched' with organic material but still some chem fert and also 100% espoma turf fert. Checked home depot but there stuff is made from "activated sewage sludge" which , well, I don't know, need I say more??

    4. I will reduce my lime use a bit as a result of the calcium in this product as well as the fact I've been wacking 50lbs per 1,000 sq. ft. 4-5 years in a row on most of them now.

    5. Will continue to spot spray for weeds with backpack sprayer vs. weed n. feed. (Ah, the glory of not having to get up at 4 am, and rush around while the dew is on the grass!!)

    Now, my questions: I've heard about 2 products in particular. Cracked corn and Alfalfa pellets as well as lessers like feather meal, etc. that are supposedly high in protein and will indirectly add nitrogen, etc. to the lawn as well as organic matter. Does anyone have input regarding these products vs. a commercial product???

    Thanks all! I'ts been very educational doing this research!! It strikes me that this info is VERY spotty and difficult to nail down in one place, though if I keep looking I might just find a "central" informational site that suddenly has everything.
  2. nocutting

    nocutting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 530

    Now thats a way ta make a real Bizness dec:hammerhead: ision
  3. nocutting

    nocutting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 530

    I'd go with the corn, than at the end of the season I'd make Pop corn to compete with the local movie theater:laugh:
  4. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 720

    nocutting - why so cruel? The guy has given some good thought to his program. He's fertilizing 400,000 sf of (I assume) customers and wants to make a transition at a reasonable economic level for him and his customers.

    Here's a chance for you to critique and point him in a few more directions; instead you give him this. Twice! Too many threads on this forum degenerate into name calling or worship of compost teas. Here's a guy putting a commercial program together and wanted comments, but he gets the wise-ass treatment. And give the guy credit for at least reading the research on CGM.
  5. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    I am probably going to get jumped on here but what the heck

    To go totally organic you must know the nutrient values of the organic materials you are using. You should start with a soil test that give you available nutrients in your soils, not just total lbs. Organic materials will contain only the nutriens that where available in the soils that they where grown on. If the soil was low in P, the organic materials will be low in P also. Soil low in sulfur, the material will be low in sulfur also. Most nutrients that are found in organic materials are eaiser for the plants to take up simply because thoswe nutrients have been process once already. this means they are easier for microbes to digest and for the enzymes from the exudates of the plants roots to absorb. Simply buying organic materials like alfalfa pellets or corn gluten meal doesnt insure that you are getting all the nutrients your soil needs. You need a balanced organic material that contains all the nutrients necessary for plant growth before you can actually improve your soil. Yes, you might get some short term results, but if you keep adding the same nutrient deficient organic materials, your soil will evenually get out of balanced and you will get nutrient tieup, even tho you have been using totally organic nutrient sources. One organic material will not supply a balance of plant usable nutrients simply because some plants take up more of one nutrient than they will of others. This means you must mix and match your organic sources the same way you would choose a fertilizer. You must also match your organic nutrients to the nutrient needs of the soil. If your soil need P, you need a high organic source of P, you need K, an organic source of K. Cow manure and chicken manure are higher in K, hog manure is higher in P. Turkey manure also contains copper, buckwheat has a lot of calcium. Mix and match your organic materials until you build your soils nutrient levels. Just applying organic materials that are high in N will only leach out the calcium levels in the soil and cause nutrient tieup of the other nutrients the plants need. You might get good results just adding high N organics the first year or two, but sooner or later, you will find that your magic N source will stop working because the soil is lacking other necessary nutrients.
  6. lilmarvin4064

    lilmarvin4064 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 757

  7. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 720

    Mudd - why would you think you'd get jumped?

    You're greatly advancing this thread (and forum) by reminding us of the complexities of soil science and it's interrelationship on fertilization programs (organic or not). You are greatly contributing to our knowledge base and understanding of this vastly complex industry.

    You're helping people "elevate their game"!
  8. hotwired

    hotwired LawnSite Member
    from maine
    Messages: 49

    Thanks for those responses. Yeah, I had to read the first two posts 3 times in disbelief. I just couldn't understand why someone would actually take valuable time out of their day and make those replies. Made me a little sad for them and their families. I say that because NOTHING shows up in one place that doesn't show up EVERYPLACE in one form or the other.

    Thank you very much for the advice on moving around a little with the organic sources. That's partly why I'm also supplementing with a "proven" if you will "off the shelf" product like espoma turf tone. It actually gets much of it's NPK from plain ol' regular sources as well as the organic material. I'll probably offer soil testing as I get going as well to really nail down the micronutrients.

    I am also looking at sustane myself and comparing products there. My theory is get out there and try something first and see what happens, tweak as you go.

    Any other thoughts would be very much appreciated. Even the smart @ss ones!!
  9. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    I suggested a soil test to start your organic program. The reason behing that suggestion is two fold, first, you cant fix something if you dont know whats wrong with it. Second, using the proper chemical fertilizers to get the nutrient levels in the correct ranges before starting organics is a much faster way of building the soil. There are a lot of standard fertilizers that are acceptable for a organic program.

    Once the soil available nutrients are in the proper ranges, you can go totally organic and never have to buy chemical fertilizers again. Maintenance levels of nutrients are a lot easier to apply using organics than building nutrient levels in your soil. Once the nutrients are present in the proper ranges and if you are not removing clippings, the nutrients will continuously recylce themselfs. Each time those nutrients are recycled, they become easier for the microbs and the plants to use. Never needing chemicals is a big statement, nutrients can and do leach from the soil and must be replaced. Using the wrong organic materials can increase the possibility of and actually increase the amount of leaching of different nutrients, depending on which nutrient you are applying to much of. Testing your organic sources for actual nutrient values helps insure that you are not applying something you dont need or not applying something you do need. A lot of commercial organic fertilizer are following the chemical fertilizer companies lead. They just list NPK and dont list the the amount of micro nutrients that they contain. You can get to much npk and be way short on other necessary nutrients that the plants need. Leaf analysis show just as much sulfur content as Phosphorous in healthy plants, NPK is made available to plants with calcium. Magnesium is needed for chlorphyll production. Plants need a lot more than NPK, and until people realize this, the chemical and orgainc fertilizer companies will continue to push NPK.
  10. OrganicFert

    OrganicFert LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Nutrients PLUS is a value... I must disagree with your "60%" comment. Truck load pricing for 16-2-3 is $10.75 bag...per pallet order is $14.35 for Maine. For a product that has 40% organic matter and gives your customer results, sounds like a bargin to me. Please post your compariable product decision and it's realized cost for all to see.

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