Benefits of Organic Fertilizer and Control Products
Read on for tips on how to grow your business and your customers’ landscapes using organic materials.
September 14, 2023
These days, many consumers are interested in organic products, including landscaping materials. According to the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) in the U.S., the term “organic” is only federally regulated for food or fiber products, not for non-food products like fertilizer, so it’s important to understand what qualifies as organic if customers express interest. Look for privately regulated standards from a trusted third-party non-profit like “OMRI listed” to ensure you are meeting organic standards. Many companies add words like sustainable, eco-friendly, and biodegradable to their packaging, but these terms do not mean these products are organic.
Organic fertilizer and organic control products are created from plant and animal waste (manure or compost) or powered minerals. Sometimes called soil conditioners, these are normally minimally processed natural ingredients, versus extracted or refined like synthetic products. Some examples include fish emulsion, cow and chicken manure, cottonseed meal, and bone meal, either as a single substance or a combination of such materials.
Benefits of Organic Fertilizer
Organic fertilizer is made of matter that helps microbes thrive; microbes are responsible for nutrient release. The most common organic matter used for fertilizer is carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Microbes decompose matter, use carbon to grow themselves, and release excess nutrients into the soil for plant use.
Soil structure can improve with organic fertilizer use because organic matter holds water more easily than synthetic, increases nutrient absorption, and produces less runoff. Organic fertilizer has a slow release, which means it absorbs into the soil at a rate that’s less likely to stress plants or overfertilize. With synthetic fertilizer, improper application can produce burn and impact surrounding water bodies.
Organic fertilizer can also help contractors follow nutrient pollution reduction criteria some states mandate.
Additionally, the Organic Trade Association states that organic fertilizer increases biodiversity by 30% compared to synthetic fertilizer. Biodiversity is important because it improves water entry and storage, curbs erosion, aids plant nutrition, and helps break down organic matter and cycle nutrients.
Benefits of Organic Herbicide
Like organic fertilizer, organic herbicide is also made up of natural matter. These work for total eradication of an area as it typically isn’t selective.
These work best on short and newly emerged plants, as a “second punch” for weeds that have been cut low, or as a follow up after smothering weeds. Mature plants will need multiple treatments. Organic herbicides are also safe to use as directed sprays applied around woody stems and tree trunks. Note that weather conditions matter- dry vegetation and direct sunlight help these products kill roots more effectively during the summertime and in early autumn. Plants have a higher potential for herbicide to be absorbed at the end of the growing season. UC Davis states that conditions are ideal with temperatures above 75 degrees.
Another perk of organic herbicide is that it dissipates in hours after job completion, not weeks or months like some synthetic counterparts. This means they don’t change the soil pH and won’t affect runoff.
Benefits of Organic Pesticide
Also derived from naturally occurring sources, such as neem oil, diatomaceous earth, and pyrethin, organic pesticides are an excellent resistance management tool if used over time. Pests are less likely to develop resistance to these products versus synthetic ones, however, organic pesticides can require special handling. Consult your products label for specific guidance.
Similar to herbicides, application timing is also very important with organic pesticides. Some products rely on being utilized at certain points within the pests’ lifecycles or they are ineffective. Once you familiarize yourself with product-specific requirements of organic pesticides, you can use this expertise to gain more business.
For more information and assistance in choosing the right organic products for your customers, visit the agronomic maintenance section of our website or your local branch today.