Organic Fertlizer ?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Mowman, Sep 23, 2001.

  1. Mowman

    Mowman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 553

    Any of you using organic's? If so are you getting good results? What brand are you using and what is the cost compared to chemcial fertlizers?
    I did a search but came up with no results. Thanks for your input POSTIVE or NEGATIVE on this subject.

  2. LoneStarLawn

    LoneStarLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,415

    We use an organic fertilizer known as Texas- Tee (6-2-4)

    The yards that we used it on have withstand a drought better than the ones that used a chemical fert.

    The organic fertilizer is about 2 - 3 times as much $ retail.
  3. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 4,714

    I use organic fert. only if my customers request it. It costs twice as much per bag, and a bag covers about 1/2 as big an area as regular fert. I have used many brands including: Greensence and Houactonite. In my opinion, this organic " thing" is hogwash for the most part. However ,its proponents have done a good job of brainwashing many people. The components that make up regular fert. are all found in nature. None are artifical, manmade chemicals. Phos. and potash are all dug out of the earth. In my opinion, the organic frenzy is a joke! Thanks for giving me a chance to vent.:angry:
  4. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,712

    All organics must break down to inorganics before they can be used by a plant. The end result is that organics get converted to chemicals!

    The Texas Tee probably works well because it is in a ratio of N_P_K that turf likes and the slow breakdown spoon feeds the nutrients for more consistent growth.

    I'm not a big fan of SCU and prefer other slow release forms of N as opposed to coated urea. MethX gives turf a gorgeous color.
  5. LoneStarLawn

    LoneStarLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,415

    I guess I used the wrong term in describing the other "non" organic products. "Chemical" may not be a good word to use since we are talking about fertilizers and not pesticides. I think a better term would be "synthetic".

    It seems though that more and more clients are requesting organic programs (not just fert.), so if you can make more money from have a "niche" in your competitive area I would jump on it. (Landscape Management August 2001 discusses the rise in organic popularity.)

  6. earthcare

    earthcare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    <p>There's lots of room for discussion on this subject - that's for sure. My business focus is geared toward consumers that want to minimize their risk of exposure to toxic chemicals in the lawn and landscape. This means that most synthetic fertilizers would not pose a problem for many of my customers. It's the toxic pesticides that they are concerned about, even if they aren't aware of the distinction.</p>

    <p>The fertilizers we use in our lawn program promote the growth of humus, the ideal growing medium for turf. Optimum growing conditions will minimize weed infestation and maximize disease and insect resistance. I don't want to pretend to tell everyone how to do that in every lawn, but suffice it to say, using only synthetic fertilizers in all of your lawns severely limits your results. Using nothing but organic sources of nutrients ie. decomposed plant materials and manure type products is just as limiting.</p>

    <p>My experience tells me that focusing on how to grow turf rather than how to kill things is a significant step forward in becoming a turf professional no matter what label you use to describe your lawn program.</p>
  7. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    Organic ferts are generally very low salt, so have little chance of burning plants. The analysis is also very low, so you'll handle a great deal more material for the same amount of applied elements. Typical organic ferts have a low N of about 2% for some of the really poor grades, to as high as 10%N for dried blood (10-0-0). Blood has the advantage of also being fairly soluble, so if a lawn were hungry when you applied it, you'd actually get to see it green up. Problem is, nobody is making a granular form of dried blood so I don't know how you could spread it. Blood makes a great Dog repellant too. But it's crazy expensive.
    Cost & slow response have been the primary sources of resisitance to organics. Most people are looking for immediate results (7-10 days for soluble synthetics). Most organics are just too slow if you're trying to bale out a hungry lawn. So don't let the lawns get hungry & the organics will compliment any program well.
    For even more information on organics than most people probably need to know, visit the Organic Minerals Resouce Board wesite at:

    I hope this helps
    I work for a fertilizer company and can easily use anything on the market & even some cool experimental stuff that isn't yet available. Yet I still found room for 1-2 natural organic ferts every year until last year. (I'm currently experimenting with the first NEW nitrogen source to be introduced in about 35 years & having great results, but thats another thread for another time.)
    If you get sloppy (lazy) & let the lawns run out of gas (slow paying customers too) then a quick shot of a largely soluble N source is in order. During the summer months, I like to see my customers apply Sustane 5-2-4 with Iron at 10-15 lbs/M in May & 20lbs/M in July. I have found there is little surge growth to create disease issues. There is also some university data that seems to prove theres a reduction in some of the summer patch diseases. I haven't noted a reduction in Brown Patch or Summer Patch as has been claimed in some publications, but a reduction of Dollar Spot & Red Thread for sure. One might suggest that a well engineered synthetic slow release source of N does the same thing. Thats at least partly true but Sustane & Harmony organics stimulate the micro-organisms in the soil more than most synthetics so the disease supression is more pronounced.
    I don't like most of the so called activated sewage sludges. A famous organic from Milwaukee was nearly forced by the federal government to clean up its act a few years back. Seems that some municipalities have trouble keeping toxic metals out of the sanitary sewer system. Mercury, Lead, Cadmium,Selenium, etc, have all turned up in activated sludges. The famous company voluntarily cleaned up a bit, but they are still "grandfathered" and don't have to meet the same standards that other sludge towns like Boston have to meet.
    Aerobically Composted Poultry Manures such as Harmony & Sustane don't have these problems. Since birds don't eat meats or poop in the toilet, their waste isn't very toxic. Because they're composted, they don't even smell. They also don't contain weeds. Un-composted poultry manures may very well contain some undigested seeds. Little research data has been published on the subject so far.
    Organics do add Humus to the soil. The amount of humus is actually very small when you compare the volume needed to re-establish life in a dead, fill like, sub soil & the pitance found in a 50 lb bag. But a normal home lawn is usually not just a mineral subsoil & if it was, no amount of organic fertilizer would fix it on a reasonable budget. Just sell a good top-soil job & be done with it. But there is a place for high quality organic ferts under the typical conditions you are most likely to encounter.
    The toxicity issue needn't come up here. Check the LD50 of natural organic & synthetic ferts on a MSDS, they're virtually the same. But I'll say this. I'll eat Urea long before I eat Bird or Human sewage. Thats enough of that.
    The cost of a bag of organic vs a bag of synthetic is close enough to call kosher: $12-16 each for a summer appropriate grade. But, you will use 3-5 times the material to deliver a comparable feeding, so make sure you charge accordingly.
    Also worth noting: most NATURAL organic fertilizers are sorely lacking in Potash. To correct this situation, the most scrupulous organic companies have been adding a Potassium source to bring the ratio back into line. Example: Compare 6-2-0 to 5-2-4. The 5-2-4 is agronomically correct in analysis. The 6-2-0 may be OK, but on my turf it's not worth it to me to chance a potash shortage in the summer when it will cost you big in disease activity if K was in short supply. Since there are few natural organic sources of K available to make the correction, compaines of integrity have come to rely on Sulphate of Potash. Often produced by Great Salt Lake Industries, the materail is derived from brine shrimp which are harvested from floating lagoon ponds in the Great Salt Lake. Believe it or not, some of the certifying organic agencies won't endorse this source of K as "natural organic". So the language on the fertilizer label has to reflect their wishes in many states. At any rate, Sulphate of Potash is so low salt it can hardly be called a cop out.
    Bottom line: My most successful customers nearly all introduce at least some organics into the program. You probably won't want to abandon synthetics either since organics do have trouble keeping up with the voracious appetite the improved Bluegrasses have for nitrogen. Organic N just can't keep up. But the reduction in disease sure is cool as are the effects on pithy soils.
    Perhaps the best way to introduce organics into your program is to try a "bridge product" that combines sythetic & organic sources for a balance nearly anyone can live with.
    Good Luck
  8. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,712

    Nice to have a knowledgable person aboard.

    I've read about the microbes in organics vs. the issue of disease for many years.

    1. Why can't we just add microbes with inorganic fert or a spray on supplement.

    2. It's been my observation this year, after an intense aeration of my personal lawn in the fall of 2000 and a growing nummber of customers that disease levels may have been somewhat reduced even though it was a nasty year for disease in in southern NJ.

    3. In test plots I started this fall, dollar spot damaged seedling turf planted with a slit seeder far more than seed started by core aeration and broadcasting. I think this might have something to do with the microbe thing again.

  9. lbmd1

    lbmd1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    Great response on the organic side of fertilizing. We have been using Harmony's organic 7-2-5 with iron bridge fertilizer for the past few years with great results. We are curently switching to North Country Organic's 8-1-9 greens grade to conform with our advertising of organic fertilizing. (not so with bridge) Our firm is located in the heart of the New Hampshire seacoast most upscale places to live where our lawn division's average home price that we serve is now in the $500,000 to 3 million range. This is also what makes selling the organic fertilizing at a higher price more possible than in other areas of the country. These clients are very well educated and like being politically correct in the use of organics, so selling them on it is also a little easier. We have had some of them even purchase bags from us for their use of their winter homes in Boston, to give to their LCO's there, because they feel that their summer home lawn looks better than their year round home. Selling organic to the masses isn't where it's at though. We do not go after the Chem lawn customers, who like the quick greenup, or perfectly weed free lawns. In this instant gratification world we live in, organic is not the answer. Most of our organic client base accepts the clover, dandelions, and other weeds that exist alongside their turf. When things get out of control though, we do bring in a licensed applicator to bring things under control. Organics are great for those who want a greener, healthier lawn in time. But we do realize the need for pesticides and herbicides when needed. Certain lawns seem to accept the organic program better than other, with some clients raving about it's valor, while some seem to do little or nothing. Hopefully more strides will be made in the organic field, they have come a long way in just the past 5 years. Better coverage rates and higher N levels have made them more competitive with the chemical sides. Although who can compete with C lawn's 34-0-0? Educating customers on the benefits and time needed to establish a healthy deep rooted lawn, is hard to do when there neighbor is receiving the steroid teatment from C'lawn, not realizing how damaging and non-beneficial it is for your turf. Your right on your assessment of a balance needed. On a side note, start a new thread on that new nitrogen source! I would like to hear more.

  10. superfert

    superfert LawnSite Member
    Messages: 25

    Wow excellent info on the trade off between organic and standard program. Most people just don't seem to wait for the results of the organic program.

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