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organic fertilizer business

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by mr.Natural, Jan 9, 2004.

  1. mr.Natural

    mr.Natural LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Hello to all, I am a member of an midsize company that specializes in producing wormcastings as an organic fertilizer. This summer my company wants to branch out into lawn service offering people lawn sprayings of our fertilizer in order to insure lawn health and greater plant productivity. My question to the forum is thus: Is there a large enough market in lawn care service to make a living selling only lawn applications of the fertilizer?
    My greatest fear is that by only offering fertilizer sprayings we will lose our chances with the public because we offer too narrow a service.
    Also, does anyone know how to price for an organic service such as this? what are the ranges of competive acceptability?
  2. heritage

    heritage LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,358

    Mr. Natural,
    Applying a worm casting slurry/tea could turn out to be a hit. Looks like all the essential elements needed for turf are in this stuff. Work with your accountant to come up with your min. hourly and work up some mock numbers. Then get some estimates from organic lawn services in your area and see if you want to compeate or get better results than your competition and set your own price standard. If it all works out in your favor then Plan/Organize/Control.......And lots of marketing:)

    Good Luck!
    Pete D.
  3. trying 2b organic

    trying 2b organic LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 566

    Great advice, I have found people willing to pay a bit more, but not a lot more, for organic. I bet your costs will be lower then mine however as i use granular that goes on at a fairly heavy rate. So in terms of what the market will bare I would figure on slightly higher prices than the chem providers. I was scared about offering lawn care without pesticides till i learned the science behind turfgrass and that you can have a good lawn with few weeds without pesticides. A good organic fertilizer like you have will help the turf crowd out weeds. You can complement this with cgm (organic weed and feed). You can make a go at organic lawn care and u will be positioned very well as the public.....uncertianty.. about "cosmetic use pesticides" increases. In Canada we are already there, once the public gets into it the govt. regulations soon follow.
  4. trying 2b organic

    trying 2b organic LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 566

    oh i bet u would like an actual price to get your research started. i guess a very rough number would be a charge of 30 -40 dollars for an average sized lawn. I charge a bit more than that here in Canada. This may be a bit higher than the comp as i suggested may be reasonable.
  5. mr.Natural

    mr.Natural LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Dear Trying 2be organic,
    Thanks for replying, you said you would recommend 30-40 dollars pricing for a treatment. Did you mean for a single treatment or for a series of treatments?
  6. trying 2b organic

    trying 2b organic LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 566

    That would be per application. If your cost per lawn just of the fert is 10 $ or less then $40. per application would be a good price for you and your customers. 200$ for an organic lawn care program is a good deal. I am curious to know your equipment and product costs. Compare them to what the traditional guys and other organic guys use and pay.
  7. mr.Natural

    mr.Natural LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    actually you make a good point on product and equipment, I was wondering if you could direct me to a good website to find inexpensive liquid and solid fertilizer applicators. thanks.
  8. trying 2b organic

    trying 2b organic LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 566

    before i do that i was just on a site and saw something i had to show u. im sure uve read it but in case u havnt. its
    soilfoodweb check out whole thing and faq has whole section related to your product, or at least i think it is.
  9. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    I'm going to assume from your location that you are near Princeton University. If you are near Princeton University and your population is anything like the Hairy Armpitted Earth Mothers of Austin, Texas; you know, the University of Texas graduates who drive their aging Volvos to Starbucks and grab an organic quiche from the salad bar at Whole Foods on the way home, then you have a potential massive hit on your hands.

    I said potential. The product you want to spray is called "compost tea." Visit www.soilfoodweb.com to learn way more than you'll ever want to know about it. If you are serious about it, though, you'll need to search the Internet and Yahoo for more information. Making good compost tea, tea that passes the tests, is not necessarily difficult, but it is a process where you need THE recipe and you need THE method down to a science. The purpose of this type of spraying is to replace the beneficial fungi to the turf that have been stripped away over the decades of mishandling of the soil.

    Let's assume you have THE recipe and THE method. How do you know? Well you have to send samples of your tea to Dr Elaine Ingham (soilfoodweb.com) and she will test it for you. Once you have that, you can charge a premium for your product. Also, once you have that, she will help you maintain your recipe and method and perhaps refine it.

    The tea making equipment you need will cost you about a thousand dollars for 500 gallon batches. You can make good tea in a day (I think). Again, get into that subculture and the sources of equipment will pop up. Bob-O-Lator is one brand but not necessarily the best. I just like the name, so there Bob gets the free publicity.

    The spraying equipment will also cost you. If you plan to do any acreage, like soccer and other sports fields, you need a 150 gallon (minimum) sprayer/tank with pump and a way to move that tank around. The nozzle you need is a 0.20 size nozzle. The reason for the huge opening is the stuff you will be spraying will have particulates in it. If you don't spray the particulates out, you spend all your time cleaning screens and tiny little 0.04 nozzles. An example of a sprayer is at this address...
    There are smaller ones, some come on little trailers to be towed behind an ATV, some can be fitted on the back of a golf cart, so shop around. You may even need a boom (larger tank needed).

    Application rate: Anything from 5 to 20 gallons per acre depending on how much the folks are willing to pay for. The 20 gallon rate is pretty dense. You might do a 20 gallon rate for the first spray of the season and follow up with 5 gallon rate three more times during the growing season.

    Pricing: One part-timer in Austin gets $900 to spray 8 acres around an apartment complex. I'm pretty sure that is the 5 gallon per acre rate. So for 8 acres he puts out 40 gallons of material that might have cost him a couple dollars to manufacture. Of course the testing and equipment need to be paid off. This guy's tea is officially tested as is his initial raw materials. His mother started the business and she gets testing certs from her vermicompost supplier in Louisana with every batch. She started spraying her ranch with it and totally eliminated weeds in one season. But I've never seen anyone test anything like she tests her tea.

    I'd say the $40-$50 per quarter acre cost per application would be good for homeowners. You might want a truck mounted tank sprayer and long hose like the Chemlawn folks use. Again you need a large nozzle. If you are allowed to, you could make a point of doing all your spraying wearing shorts and barefoot to demonstrate the safety and benefit of spraying compost tea. The chemlawn folks have to wear chemical defense boots.

    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 5,132

    do your research on the tea brewers
    i have come accost a few scams out there
    it does sound like a good biz to try

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