What about synthetic ferts hurt organics?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Newby08, Mar 26, 2008.

  1. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277

    I haven't posted in a while due to trying to beat the clock in getting all my ducks in a row before the tsunami hits my front door...

    SO... thought I'd come back with two of what I think are really good, interesting questions.

    1) What about synthetic chemicals is actually harmful to the lawn and microorganisms?

    2) Is synthetic pre-M harmful as well or will it not effect the microbes in the soil? (can i use a synthetic pre-m in my organic program with out destroying all the work put into building the microbiology?)

    Glad you could hear from me again. :)
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Yeah, I'm glad I can hear from you again too :)

    The point was made earlier that synthetics and organics are molecular the same. My question is :
    "What is the chemical hat inhibits root growth in CGM and what is the chemical that inhibits root growth in preen?"

    The 'salts' involved with the production of synthetics; I believe - is the primary concern. I could be wrong . but almost everyone will be happy to point that out if it is so. That is my 2 cents worth. I have combined both inputs for years. What I have discovered is that synthetics become more redundant all the time.

    Your guess - as to who is impeding on who's turf. In the north we are pretty sure as to who is winning the turf wars.
  3. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277

    HAHA, yeah, they don't hold back when letting people know when they are wrong about something.

    I appreciate the input, now it should be interesting to see how everyone else responds to both my questions and your response.
  4. MaineFert

    MaineFert LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 115

    I agree that salts are the primary concern. From what I understand soil microbiology is all based up the soil food web. By applying conventional fertilizers (salts) you are not supplying microbes with food to sutain life. As a result, the populations diminish, and as soon as a portion of the soil food web is affected, it affects the entire soil microbiology.

    Basicially, applying only salts to a lawn will rob its ability to sustain life. I highly reccomend fertilizers that contain organic matter. Not only because we represent this fertilizer, but because we are using it for all of our customers.

    I hope this helps and I will research the CG question a little further before commenting.

  5. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277

    so from what you just said...

    As long as I use organic fertilizers to feed the microorganisms, a synthetic pre-M twice a year shouldn't hurt things to bad? I know about the CGM, how its the only natural pre-M and all that good stuff but... when I am trying to run my business and I look at my costs and a synthetic CGM cost me 6 times what a synthetic pre-M costs me then its not too hard to see that I am going to be not just pushing people away from organics but throwing them away.:walking: If my cost is six times more then my prices are going to have to reflect that... a $40 yard just became a $240 yard when it comes to pre-M. :hammerhead:

    :laugh: thats a joke. PLEASE tell me that a syn pre-M won't hurt me to bad!:(
  6. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    Corn Gluten Meal has proteins that attack the root of seedlings. It basically prunes the root so that the seed cannot grow.

    Here is the best site for info on CGM Iowa State University, they patented the use as a Pre-M in 1992. http://www.hort.iastate.edu/gluten/

    Bradfield Organics has some research that has just come back that small amounts of urea is used as food for the microbes.

    Syn-ferts actually promote poor root growth in plants and do little to promote a healthy soil. The fertilizer melts into the top inch or two of the soil and that is where the turf plant gets all of its nutrients, the plant doesn't have to go any further to be fed.

    As the nutrients are used up in the top 2 inches of the soil the soil becomes less and less like soil and becomes dirt. Just like the stuff you track into you house, DIRT. It has no life and in unable to support growth of plants and so tthe cycle of more fertilizer to supprt a lifeless soil continues. The top growth may look OK but if you look at the soil beneath it, not so good.

    By getting the organic matter up in the soil you begin to start a cycle of soil fertility. The organic matter is food for beneficial microorganisms, as the microbe eat, poop, procreate and die off they begin to leave more and more nutrients behind for the plants to consume. Protozoa love to eat bacteria, some bacteria love to eat fungi, nematodes like to eat bacteria and protozoa, worms like the leftovers that these guys leave behind. The worms leave wonderfully rich worm poop behind that contain all of the nutrients that the other guys have eaten, but in plant available forms.

    By keeping the food resources up for the beneficials you begin a cycle of fertility that needs very little input and you are left with wonderfully rich and fertile soil. This soil allows the plant roots to go deep into the soil, as the plant does this the beneficials follow the root, they live in an area that is the MOST fertile called the rhizospere.

    The obvious results are: drought resistance, disease suppression, long term health, basically a great stand of healthy turf that can ward off almost any attack. Why? because of the diversity of the beneficials and the length and breadth of the root system

    Check this out, 3 foot root system in less than 6 months. Now that is drought resistance
  7. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

  8. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277


    I understand all of that, but I still need to know whether or not syn pre-M is going to be detrimental to the lawns if it is used. I have to make money. And pre-M is going to have to be used for a little while if not always. Like I said, I'm all about using the compost and AACT but that will not keep weeds from germinating until after the lawn is well established which can take a year or more from what I understand.
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    Newby, IMO, if you need to use pre-M to get your program started, then do it, but do it responsibly.

    That being said, if your having to apply pre-M (organic or not) every year, then your not doing something right. The whole idea behind organics/sustainable lawn care is to create a system that excludes/out competes the weeds. Also consider that proper cultural care during times of the year when weed pressure is high are arguably just as important as maintaining a thick and healthy stand of turf.

    I don't believe in the "apply just in case" thinking which goes hand in hand with pre-M and fertilizers (organic or not). In most cases, we are not growing food crops in landscapes, therefore our only goal is to maintain the "status quo" (eg. aesthetic appeal). You don't need high growth rates in order to do this, nor are high growth rates desirable.

    My approach to landscape management is always to find the minimum. What I mean by that is to find the point where the landscape begins to decline due to lack of inputs. I find this approach is both the most cost effective and sustainable way to manage landscapes.
  10. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277


    But take my parents lawn for instance, they didn't put down a pre-m this year, the lawn looks pretty good, their nieghbors is so infested with weeds the bermuda is starting to disappear. Now this is my new to organics thought process that if i dont put down a pre-m every year that these weed seeds are just going to keep infesting their lawn until the lawn is healthy and thick enough to keep them out. even then if its any thing like the infestation goin on right now i dont see how spot treating will do any good. Please direct me in the areas where I am wrong.

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