Explore the benefits of biological fertilizers

February 20, 2019 -  By
Photo: Cool Planet

Organic Growth: Biological fertilizers increase the supply of primary nutrients to the host plant and soil. Photo: Cool Planet

Pat O’Bryan was ready to leave the lawn care industry. The owner of Jamison Pest & Lawn in Cordova, Tenn., was tired of promising customers lush, green lawns and ultimately delivering lawns that were “just OK.” Set to focus solely on pest control services, O’Bryan decided to make one last effort and explore the realm of biological fertilizers, hoping it might make some sort of difference for his customers’ lackluster turf. What a difference it made.

Jamison Pest & Lawn is not only still offering lawn care services, the company is heavily advertising them and is excited about the future. “As a business owner, I had been frustrated with lawn care for 15 years, but with these products, I am able to deliver on the promises we make as an industry,” O’Bryan says. “We were treading water as a lawn care company. Since using biological fertilizers, sales have gone through the roof, and we have fewer cancellations.”

A biological fertilizer, or biofertilizer, is a substance that contains living microorganisms that promote growth and vitality by increasing the supply or availability of primary nutrients to the host plant and soil. These fertilizers are typically derived from live plant materials or minerals, and they come in liquid or granular form. Biological fertilizers differ from organic fertilizers, which are derived from plant, animal or human waste products. Industry experts say that using biological fertilizers can create healthier, denser turf with deeper color that is more resistant to drought and disease. Soil treated with biological fertilizers also promotes improved water management.

“Biologicals in a general term are any carbon compound that enhances the plant through a hormonal response through the soil or the plant itself,” says John Perry, president, founder and CEO of Greene County Fertilizer Co., a manufacturer and supplier of soil-amending fertilizers based in Greensboro, Ga. “The addition of biologicals releases stress and strengthens the plant by giving it something it would never get from a standard fertilizer.”

O’Bryan, whose $2-million company provides 75 percent pest control and 25 percent lawn care services to a 90 percent residential clientele, uses a liquid root growth stimulator and a liquid aerate product, in addition to the company’s traditional lawn care products. Since incorporating these biological products two years ago, O’Bryan says his customers have seen improved color, more resistance to drought and disease and better winter hardiness. Because his firm works with customers across three counties with different soil types, the company uses soil testing and adapts its lawn care programs as necessary.

“We have moved everybody up a bracket by improving the soil quality,” he says. “The yards that used to be poor are now OK and the yards that used to be OK are now spectacular.”

Photo: Greene County Fertilizer Co.

Lush lawns: Biological fertilizers help create healthy, dense turf that’s rich in color. Photo: Greene County Fertilizer Co.

Jim Loar, president and CEO of Cool Planet, a producer of biochar-based technology in Greenwood Village, Colo., says the living microorganisms in biological fertilizers work to restore and enhance the natural nutrient cycle and organic matter found in soils. These products complement traditional lawn care regimes to enhance a lawn’s overall beauty, quality and resiliency.

“At the end of the day, all plant materials require a balanced nutritional program very much like human beings,” Loar says. “Sometimes you need to take a supplement or a multivitamin, and I think plants are very much the same. Biological fertilizers focus on improving what nature already has provided in that given space.”

Hugh MacGillivray, chief commercial officer of Anuvia Plant Nutrients, a manufacturer of slow-release bio-based fertilizer products based in Zellwood, Fla., says lawn care operators (LCOs) interested in adding biofertilizers to their lawn care programs should consider the benefits they can experience with fairly minimal effort. MacGillivray says Anuvia’s products are “plug and play” and require no special handling or equipment. While the products may require an additional cost versus conventional products, they work to improve soil quality over time, increasing nutrient efficiency and providing more satisfied customers who are looking for premium performance along with sustainability.

“LCOs should take a hard look at these products because they bring unique benefits that conventional nutrition doesn’t,” MacGillivray says. “The environmental footprint is also very positive, as they have less impact on the environment while providing greener, healthier lawns.”

Perry agrees. “Everything is just better — I don’t know how you can beat that,” he says. “LCOs are seeing a reduction in the overall use of chemicals because the turf is healthier. Healthier turf with less inputs helps LCOs save money over time.”

1 Comment on "Explore the benefits of biological fertilizers"

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  1. john Bannon says:

    I have been using biologicals for a few years since they became easier to use and apply they are great and the results are clear in September after the stress of summer the lawn recover very well and they are real green and healthy going into fall and in the spring they tend to come out of dormancy uniformly and area ready to recover from winters stress.