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The Secret is in the Soil

healthy-soil“Whether we like it or not, we are quickly entering a biological age of turfgrass management where microbiological solutions are sought for biological problems. It is becoming more and more apparent that maintaining active microbial communities in turfgrass soils is a vital part of overall turfgrass health. Research to date clearly shows the potential to bring about disease control through microbial-based technologies.” Eric B. Nelson, Ph.D. Cornell University

A teaspoon of healthy soil contains about 4 billion organisms—So it comes as no surprise that these microbes play a key role in building and maintaining healthy soil. Understanding how to work with these microbes instead of against them is one of the most important landscaping practices which will improve the health and appearance of lawns and gardens.

Healthy soil has amazing water-retention capacity. Every one percent increase in organic matter results in as much as 25,000 gal of available soil water per acre. Improving the health of soil by adding more organic matter to create structure and pore space will help reduce nutrient runoff and give you more return for your fertilizer dollars.

Improving soil can also save money by reducing summer irrigation needs because plants grow deeper roots and the soil holds more water. Healthier plants have fewer pest and disease problems and need less fertilizer—so you’ll need fewer chemicals, which is good for human health and the environment. To top it off, beneficial soil organisms also break down pollutants, and they help move carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into long-term storage in the soil.

Healthy soils are…


Full of life

  • Millions of species, billions of organisms make up a complex and diverse mix of microscopic life
  • Represents the greatest concentration of biomass anywhere on the planet
  • Includes bacteria, algae, microscopic insects, earthworms, beetles, ants, mites and fungi

High in organic matter

  • There may be no other component that’s more important to a healthy soil than organic matter
  • Carbon in organic matter is the main source of energy for soil-microbes, key for making nutrients available to plants

The addition of known beneficial microorganisms and the organic matter that they live in and feed off of will improve soil structure, drainage issues, nutrient cycling and plant immune systems.

Soil health is the foundation of any plant health care system because good soil makes it easier to get good results. Most landscapers are dealing with compacted soils that have much less life in it—Simply correct this  “by maintaining active microbial communities” and get better results with bigger profit margins.

To read more by Dr. Nelson, CLICK HERE.

 
Marketing Sustainable Lawn Care

It’s no secret that the market for environmentally friendly lawn care products and services is expanding, pushing the idea that it’s not enough for your grass to be green—it should be “green.”

With spring in full force, the sustainable lawn care movement is spreading fast. For instance, this year New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection is urging residents to use caution when applying pesticides, and to employ only licensed commercial pesticide applicators when hiring for pest control services that include pesticide product applications. The DEP also reminds residents to use lawn and garden fertilizers that comply with New Jersey’s strict content standards for nitrogen and phosphorus, or to hire certified fertilizer applicators for their lawn care.

“While this is typically the time of year when we care for and beautify our properties, it’s important to remember we have an obligation to the environment, to our neighbors and to ourselves. When it comes to applying pesticides, we suggest using them sparingly or to explore non-chemical alternatives whenever possible,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

A 2009 survey by the National Gardening Association indicated an overall increase to nearly 12 million households using only natural products on lawns and gardens, up from about five million in 2004. The trend toward environmentally friendly lawn care will only continue to grow in the coming years.

A sustainable approach offers customers an integrated program that provides an effective, competitively priced, less toxic and environmentally safer alternative to a conventional program. Offering sustainable options can not only increase customer loyalty and retention, but also provide a strategic advantage in the marketplace.

CLICK HERE to read more on recent lawn care industry trends.

 
Don't Let Winter Burn You

We are experiencing a collective exhale after months of winter storms that brought subzero temperatures, continuous wind gusts, freezing rain and – to say the least—piles of snow. As temperatures start to warm, we are left with plants that have been damaged by wind, ice, salt and the frigid polar vortex.

winterburnnandina

This past winter will be remembered as an unusually harsh one, and landscapes are starting to tell the story.

Lawns, trees and shrubs take a beating from season to season, from salt damage, insects, rodents and birds, family pets, weeds and thatch. Especially after winters like we’ve had, ice and snow cover—and also snow molds—can lead to matting of the turf, while evergreens and late flowering summer shrubs experience winter drought stress that causes winter burn. We obviously can’t control the weather, but there are steps that you can take to get your customers’ lawns looking lush and green again.

According to Dr. Sharon Douglas, plant pathologist at the Department of Plant Pathology and Ecology at The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, these methods and preventive measures can help ensure the health of lawns, trees and shrubs fr


1) Select the appropriate site for planting and maintain optimum growth by using proper growing practices.om winter injury:

2) Have sufficient moisture in the root zone before the soil freezes—this can be accomplished by giving the shrubs a deep watering before the ground freezes in the fall; mulching also helps to increase moisture retention in the winter.

3) Prune and remove any dead twigs or branches which can serve as sites for secondary invaders or opportunistic pests.

4) Provide physical protection from water loss and drying winds- this is especially important for new transplants or plants in exposed locations; burlap wraps and sprays of anti-transpirant can be used.

Tech Terra’s Plant Health Care Systems focus on solving problems, not just treating symptoms. These programs are easy to implement, increase your profits and improve results. The focus is to improve the vigor of your clients’ turf and landscapes in order to improve the plants’ ability to ward off insects and diseases and deal better with drought. The judicious use of pesticides provides better control when plants are under less stress.

Conventional programs place the emphasis on cosmetic appearance with little concern for plant health. This approach relies heavily on regular applications of pesticides, which only treat the symptom and end up costing you more money. Tech Terra has a better way.

Our fertilizers do more than just provide nutrients. Clarus PRO Screamin Green is high in organic matter that is biologically active. It activates hormones and enzymes that strengthen the plants’ own defense systems. ICT Organics 1-2-3 for turf and trees increases the biological activity in soils, which strengthens root systems. Other products such as ICT Organics NPP and Regalia PTO will strengthen cell walls and improve resistance to diseases. Use ICT Organics Essential-1 or Grandevo PTO to safely control insects and mites. Desikote is a product with many benefits. It can be used as an anti-desiccant when planting trees or laying sod. It works well to reduce winter burn on susceptible evergreens.

Take advantage of a clean slate this year—  With Tech Terra’s environmentally sound products and customizable Plant Health Care Systems, you will not only help recover your customers’ winter-damaged lawn, but also build a loyal customer base that shops based on value and relationship—not on price.

 
Value Outshines Cost in Organic Lawn Care

The love affair with lawns comes at a cost. However, the move from chemically treated lawns to organic is becoming more common as many homeowners are becoming increasingly conscious of the hazards associated with pesticide use. Each year, more and more homeowners are switching to natural or organic lawn care treatments and methods that offer them a safer, more environmentally friendly choice. Consumer awareness about the health risks associated with exposure to pesticides has been the prime motivator behind why more and more municipalities have imposed tighter restrictions on the use of pesticides.

grass_w_Dollar_Sign

In the long term, an organic lawn will actually cost less money. Once established, an organic lawn program can result in savings of more than 25% compared to a conventional lawn care program. An organic program is based on building soil biology, which will, over time sustain the grass with minimal inputs. Initial costs may be more than a conventional lawn care program as one transitions from using synthetic fertilizer and chemical herbicides, but an organic lawn uses less water and fertilizers, and requires less labor for mowing and maintenance.

That being said, there is a general consensus out in the marketplace that consumers are willing to pay a premium, regardless of the reason why organic services cost more, simply because when it comes to their family’s health, the cost factor is irrelevant and price is the last determinant in the decision-making process.

Your customers need to know the benefits of investing their money in more environmentally safe methods of lawn care and gardening. With endless competition in the industry, trust is what separates us from our competition and creates a fiercely loyal customer base that shops based on value, relationship and not on price. Education is one of the fastest ways to create reciprocity—people love to feel informed—and educating your new and existing customers about the transition to organic lawn care will do that for them. Through education, you create the trust that every business needs to thrive and excel. You give them what they want—for free—and you deepen and expand a relationship that will last for years.

 
Fall Seeding

Now is the time to seed for cool season turf. New varieties can save you money!


9/4/13


This year many lawns suffered from diseases, weeds and drought stress depending on where you are located. September is the optimum time to improve your clients’ lawns by over seeding with improved varieties of seeds. The soil is still warm and air temps are dropping providing optimum conditions for seed germination. An added bonus is there are fewer weed seeds for new turf to contend with.


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