Organic bridge lawns that are less total cost on fert inputs compared to synthetics.?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Exact Rototilling, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    For homeowners who don't have to have a hyper green lawn all season, may have health concerns in the household and are okay fine with higher mowing and heavy deep watering is okay fine with them.

    Any input on these types of properties...?
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  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Most N is wasted when put on cool ground, hot ground, structureless ground, mineral dirt ground, root inhibited ground and many other types of inadequate ground...

    Input for input, product for product and pound of N for pound of N,,, organics ,,, are always going to cost more and do less on poorly managed soils than,,, synthetics...

    Healthy and properly managed soils will provide better turf for less with the use of organic materials...

    NPK ratings on a bag of compost is not relevant at all to the NPK rating on a bag of Scotts... its Apples and Oranges all the way... :)
  3. bepperb

    bepperb LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    If organics were cheaper they would just be the way. But they aren't so much more expensive and if one was willing to have a less vibrant lawn (say 3lb N per K vs 5 per year) the cost could be a wash. Or if someone is willing to pay slightly more to feel better about their kids playing, or their dogs, or whatever.

    I have some advantage living in Southeast Wisconsin, here you can get Milorganite for 7 bucks a bag most days and if you buy a pallet closer to 6. So for a 5K lawn you're talking 14 bucks instead of 10, assuming you are not applying herbicide. When you consider your other costs are relatively static adding 10 or 20 bucks onto a per app cost isn't that much more if you can find a good source of organic fert.

    I would agree with SmallAxe that some organics are very slow when first used. Alfalfa for example might sit for awhile and will certainly not give the green "pop" that a synthetic would. Once the soil becomes more healthy this speeds up, but this can take time. I think a bridge program should be an easy sell where it's organic until some synthetics in the fall.

    Two cents from a lurker anyway.
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I contend that organic ferts are cheaper... but NOT in a pound for pound way... soil structure and CEC are more important than 4# of N per season... especially when a lot of that N will never ever be used of the grass...

    I'd rather have 2.5# of N with ALLof it being used,,, than have 4# of N with less than half being used...

    The difference is in the soil whether it is organic or synthetic doesn't matter... cultural practices based on knowledge of your soil will determine your 'timing'... "Timing" will determine whether the N is wasted or the soil is building/losing structure...

    Even with good soil and using a little synfert on that good soil,,, goes a long way... never settle for LESS VIBRANT lawns... :)
  5. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Could not agree more. If you miss the September and November applications of fertilizer for growing zones similar to mine. The turf suffers a major loss that is tough to recover from. Just last week I came across a publication from University of Idaho and they FLAT OUT SAID, 75% of the seasons nitrogen NEEDS to go down between September to November. This is more than what Purdue states even at the 2/3 rate or 66% of the seasons NITROGEN.

    So I ask why are so many Application Co. Putting down fast release heavy applications in the Spring...? Creating mowing nightmares for clients and contractors...? The big Ap Co. here are putting down fert on frozen ground way to early....?

    Okay...back on topic. In tests on my own KBG thatch prone lawn organic fert with a DPW base and some synthetic N for green up 14-2-5 out performed a slow release synthetic based quality product with 20-7-14 specs. What happens is the dried chicken waste helps breakdown clippings and the organic based product really performs and lasts a long time. The slow release synthetic product does last but not as long.

    I'm not trying to pop bubbles here but on the same lawn Milorganite performs poorly IMO when compared to my preferred bridge product.

    Due to cooler temps and a propensity for clients to bag in the Fall and early Spring. I only use synthetic fert for the first and last APS.

    The entire problem with this angle of a lower input lawn is it clashes with what the client wants. They want clippings bagged due to ignorance or they have to from fast release aps and many here loose interest in their lawns once the last holiday weekend roll around. "Lawn looks okay fine...let's skip the Fall fert".


    I'm at the point now if a client insists on bagging, over watering and heavy Spring APS they are done. Hire one of the many Walker GHS fellers with huge grass piles in their trailers or dump truck.
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    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I agree with you,,, that the Milorganite is not going to support the microherd in breaking down grass clippings as readily as chicken manure, compost or even molasses would do... Where Milorganite is superior to synferts is the release of N and other nutrients,,, coincides with the microherd activity as well as, plant activity,,, i.e., when the temps and moisture conditions are right for them all...
    It is a more natural growth habit for the dynamic of your turf...

    Sometimes it seems that even those other N rich organic ferts have enough free N that they may also produce a topgrowth surge in the Spring, when Milorganite does not...

    In soils and plants and weather, there are so many factors coming together and making things happen,,, it takes a lot of discernment to analyse the Whys and Wherefores... The biggest mistake that people make is get ideas from books and lectures, w/out putting it all together in a comprehensive way...

    When people insist that this product does THAT or over here we have a product that does THIS, or buy another product to do the OTHER THING, THEN,, it is best to either connect the dots,,, or disregard, becuz there is no one simple idea that describes life and the dynamics involved...

    I know that it is frustrating when people are willing to cripple the turf for the rest of the season, by forcing an unhealthy topgrowth and add root inhibitor... I continue for the over-waterers, but will not do much in the way of establishing a healthier turf, becuz it can not be done, with excess water...
  7. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,165

    Dare i say it? Screamin Green16-2-3. Biologically active composted poultry manure, biosolid, urea, Amonium Sulfate, Sulfer Coated Urea

    It's the best of both worlds. Provides a long term green without surge growth.
  8. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,813

    Sounds excellent, Barry. Organic, micronutrients, nitrogen, and slow-release nitrogen--organic and green, just what the customer wants.

    Does it spread well? Contain iron? Safe? What happens if there are a few days of very humid weather? Is there an odor problem? Will it accumulate on the spreader fins? What spreader setting should be used? Is there a chart or online calibration guide? Which seasons are most suitable for Screamin' Green?
  9. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,165

    It spreads evenly. Due to it's darker color applicators may not realize how well it's spreading until they get used to it.
    Contains 1% Iron.
    Safe? Sure.
    Humidity has less effect than many conventional ferts.
    Some caking is possible.
    Spreader settings are on the label. They do need to be updated. No online calibration guide at this time. Good suggestion.
    Screamin Green can be applied to cool and warm season turf at any time of year.
    Visually it provides a deep green color. No surge growth.
    Higher % of N gets to the roots than most conventional ferts.
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    How does that work???

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