A look back

Here are some highlights from the 2012 editions of Bionutrition Today

December 13, 2012
Bionutrition Today sponsored by Lebanon

We understand you can’t read all of the Bionutrition today newsletters we produce. So, as an end of the year gift, we’ve rounded up some of our highlights from 2012. Enjoy!

In our April edition, Clark Throssell, director of research for Lebanon Turf gave a tip about breaking into the bionutrition market.

Throssel said if an LCO wanted to test out adding bio-nutrition products to his supply, he should test it out on a route for a season. Once the season is over, compare other lawns in the area that had just normal NPK fertilizer, and see which one turned out better.

“That’s a good way to find out if products work and to what degree that homeowners would notice difference and maybe a homeowner would be willing to pay a little extra money with the extra value that would come with it,” he said. “That kind of use is a good way for an LCO to become comfortable with the product and idea by putting it on 30 or so different lawns – that’s enough of comparison the LCO should get a good idea of what the product contributed and what value it brought to his or her business.”

In June, Rick Brosseau, owner of Milrick Lawn Service, broke down the numbers when using organic services compared to synthetic products. He gave readers a good idea of the kind of money available in organics.

"It depends on what the soil evaluation results are, but typically (organic) can be twice to three times as much for the first couple of years. We have to amend the soil and that takes time. However, over time, say four, five, six years and beyond, less inputs are needed because you've created a self-sustaining environment that will thrive. I converted a lady from the synthetics this year and she was having a guy from come out once a month from March through November charging her $50/visit to put down stuff. Now her lawn is beautiful, but she lives near wetlands and does not want to harm the environment so she switched to our program.

"I will sample her soil and more than likely need to amend it with leaf compost and other natural additives to help improve the biology in the soil. She'll end up spending about $1,400 with us this year versus $450 with the other company. Our (profit margins) are around 25 percent. Now, the good thing is that next year her lawn will need fewer and fewer inputs as the soil is doing what Mother Nature intended it to do. Have you ever seen somebody fertilizing the forest? No; yet it thrives."

In August, Camilla Warden, owner of Camilla Landscape Design in Brookfield Conn., described how landscape designers could create sustainable sites, especially with hardscapes.

“We try to use natural rock from local sources for our hardscape projects,” she said. “We try to use whatever natural features exist on the property. One good example is exposing a ledge on a rocky site. Instead of bringing in mountains of soil on which to grow imported Kentucky bluegrass, oftentimes we will scrape out and expose the natural beauty of the rock and stuff the crevices with native grasses, ferns and rock plants.”

She also gave questions to ask yourself while designing.
• Are you using locally-sourced materials?
• Are you grouping plants in communities that one might find naturally?
• Are you using plants that support wildlife to have a better functioning ecosystem?
• Are you designing for low water usage?

In October, Ken Almstead of Almstead Tree & Shrub Care Co., gave us tips on implementing a compost tea program.

"It’s important to purchase the right equipment. Brewing and transporting compost tea are particularly challenging. An aerator should be bubbling the tea up to the point that it’s applied, including on the truck headed for your client’s property.

"Plus, any container holding the tea, including hose connections, shouldn’t contain any right angles, as they are likely to develop biofilm that is difficult to clean away. Likewise, materials like high quality compost, soil amendments, and organic controls are critical elements of the services you are offering, so take the time to research what you plan on using and discuss your options with someone more experienced.

"Educate your clients. Let them know not just that you are offering organic services, but how those services work."