The Holganix Blog

Marketing Hints and Tips: Aeration business in a box

Are you in the midst of planning for your aeration marketing campaigns? Or, are you providing aeration services but don’t know how to market it? No worries, we’ve got your back! Aeration and overseeding is not only fantastic for plant and soil health, but for your wallet too. Take advantage of our Aeration Business In A Box – free digital tool kit containing all sorts of marketing goodies to help you reel in aeration and overseeding customers. 

aeration 

1. Video Content

Your box contains video content that you can post on your website and share on social media. The video discusses the benefits of including aeration applications in your lawn care program and is a great telegraphic tool to educate customers on the benefits of aeration for the health of their lawn.

 

2. Mailers

Your box contains mailers including: postcards, letter/prepay text. The post cards and letter are designed to target your current customers and sell them aeration. The prepay text can be added to any prepay invoice for an aeration program. 

 

3. Education and marketing strategy

Your box contains educational materials on the science behind Holganix and how it helps amp up the benefits of aeration. It also contains a recorded version of our webinar on Growing your business through aeration applications by Holganix head of Marketing, Nicole Wise to help you market aeration services.

 

Once you’ve explored the marketing content, jump on a fall marketing plan webinar with Holganix Communication Specialist – Suzanne Longacre to put your marketing campaigns into action. 

Aeration-Info-Button 

Tags: lawn care, marketing hints and tips, lawn care marketing, aeration

How great leaders inspire action

How do you explain how people achieve things that surpass expectations? Why do certain leaders or organizations inspire action when there are others more qualified to succeed? Why did Martin Luther King Jr. lead the civil rights movement when there were other, more powerful orators that also suffered civil injustice? Why was it that the Wright Brothers mastered flight when there were other teams that were both better funded and more talented? Why does Apple continue to create and develop innovation after innovation?

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A few years back, leadership and business guru, Simon Sinek, made a discovery that according to Sinek, “profoundly changed my view on how I thought the world works.” It turns out that Sinek discovered a pattern. Legendary leaders and organizations think, act and communicate differently than the rest. Sinek believes that the pattern boils down to three key components: Why, How, and What.

“This little idea explains why some organizations and leaders are able to inspire while others aren’t,” says Sinek. Every person and organization knows what they do and some know how they do it. But, few know why they do what they do. “We say what we do, we say how we do it, but do we say why we do it?” asks Sinek.

Inspiring leaders and organizations act and communicate from their “Why” not their “What” or their “How.”  And, if you talk about what you believe, you will attract those that believe what you believe.

At the end of the day, says Sinek, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it…. If you don’t know why you do what you do, then how will you ever get anyone to buy, vote, be loyal or be a part of what you do?”

Watch Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on leadership below for additional information on the power of “WHY?”

Grow your lawn care company

Tags: lawn care, lawn care company, turf, leaders, leadership, simon sinek

Not all granular fertilizers are created equal?

Screen_Shot_2015-08-18_at_11.29.36_PMPlants have four basic food groups, which consist of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) nutrients, and also trace minerals like iron, boron, copper and zinc. Just like in human health, it’s essential that the plant receives its food in the right balance. That’s where biosolid-based granular fertilizer steps in. Biosolids are full of tasty nutrients like NPK, trace minerals and an extra heap of organic matter, which breaks down into food sources for soil microorganisms. However, just like with human health, your plant needs to take its probiotics. That’s where probiotic, bionutritional granular fertilizer products step in. Just like biosolids, bionutritional products contain NPK, trace minerals and organic matter. However, unlike biosolids, bionutritional products are full of living microorganisms and other “vitamins” to boost the plant’s “immune system”.

Living microorganisms are essential to plant life, and many soils do not contain sufficient levels to support healthy plants. Biosolid-based fertilizers contain nutrients, but no living microorganisms. Therefore, they rely solely on soil’s existing biology levels to help plants uptake nutrients and fortify the plant’s natural defenses against disease and insects. Conversely, HolganixI Granular, a probiotic, bionutritional product created by infusing Holganix liquid onto various types of granules, containing substantial amounts of living microorganisms, as well as the nutrients plants crave. The diverse, abundant biology in HolganixI Granular works symbiotically to deliver essential nutrients to plants so efficiently that inputs such as NPK and pesticides can be reduced up to 50%.

Biosolids_Comparison_Chart_6

Turf roots

Tags: organic fertilizer products, soil health, granular fertilizer, organic fertilizer, phosphorous, Soil heath, nitrogen, soil food web, organic granular fertilizer, soil biology, soil microorganism, potassium, probiotic, biosolid fertilizer

3 things every lawn care start up needs to know!

Are you just starting up a lawn care company? Or are you a landscaping company looking to add fertilization to your program? Here are three things you need to know to start off successfully.

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1. Integrating lawn care fertilization into your business means increased recurring revenue and higher gross margins. In general, you can expect between a 40 – 60% gross margin in lawn care, depending on how new you are to the industry (think start up costs) and the product dollars you choose to spend. That's a healthy chunk of gross margin that you can reinvest year after year to continuously grow your company. Keep in mind that gross margin doesn’t mean profit margin and therefore, may not include indirect costs (like your rent). However, even more importantly, lawn care means recurring revenue. When you sell a customer, you can expect on average a 5-year revenue life span from them (since they may move, switch to a competitor, etc). So, while lawn care may be a smaller ticket item than design and build, you can expect about 5 years of recurring business from fertilization customers. Those smaller checks will build up fast.

 

2. When it comes to marketing, keep the wheels moving! If you send out a single post card, don’t expect heaps of new customers. Prospects should be “touched” or receive a piece of communication (direct mail, email blast, social media, etc.) every 4 to 5 weeks for a total of at least 5 “touches”. This way, your prospect will remember your name when their need for lawn care is at its greatest point. So, don’t get dismayed when after your first mailing, the phone isn’t ringing off the hook. Keep at it, and you’ll get phone calls throughout the marketing season. To keep marketing dollars reigned in and effective, focus your marketing dollars on three key neighborhoods (golden streets) you would like to “own” or have tons of customers living in. As you gather more and more customers in a single neighborhood, word of mouth will take over and help garner even more customers. Also, keep in mind that this will reduce your windshield time where you are driving to and from a clients’ home, ultimately increasing margins.

 
3. To keep customers happy, increase referrals and maintain your stream of recurring revenue, be committed to providing good service. While this may seem like a shoe in, it’s important to use decent products (if not great ones!) and to practice the appropriate application methods. Take pride in your work and your customers will notice! For applying liquid fertilizer, be sure to utilize the double coverage method. See here for an instructional video on applying liquid fertilizers.   

Grow your lawn care company

Tags: lawn care, lawn care marketing, lawn care company, lawn care business, lawn care start up

Boosting soil and plant health at Broken Sound Country Club

“Over the past 10 years, the only thing I’ve changed in my agronomic program is the addition of Holganix,” says Shannon Easter, Director of Golf Maintenance of Broken Sound Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida. “I use it religiously.” Overall, Holganix has enabled Easter to reduce his inputs, increase turf and root health and speed recovery time on the course, ultimately boosting sustainability.

Broken Sound Country Club isn’t new to the world of sustainability. In fact, the exclusive, award winning country club was “the second golf facility in the US and the 14th in the world to be GEO certified - the sustainability assurance of the international non-profit Golf Environment Organization.” Broken Sound has also received Audubon Sanctuary Certification for both of their golf courses and established the first industrial composting project in Florida. In addition, Broken Sound has been recognized for recycling 95% of its solid waste.

Needless to say, at Broken Sound, the golf maintenance team takes sustainability seriously. “Once a year, we have a seminar with the members, notifying them of what’s going on at the courses and how we are reducing our carbon footprint. They know all about Holganix.”

For Easter, Holganix didn’t just make sense from a sustainability standpoint but also agronomically. “When looking at the chemistry of the soil on both courses, Holganix just made sense.”  

Broken Sound consists of two unique courses: The Old Course and The Club Course. The Old Course is the older of the two and contains sandy soils while The Club Course is newer and has denser soils. Because nutrients leach faster in sandy soils, “we make more frequent, lighter Holganix applications on our older course and apply Holganix heavier but less frequently on the newer course.” As a result, consistency and uniformity of turf health has improved on both courses.

 

Reducing Synthetic Inputs

“We’ve also noticed a substantial reduction in the presence of disease pressure and have decreased our fungicide use by 30%. That’s less than I’ve EVER used in the past.” Furthermore, he has reduced his use of nitrogen fertilizers by 20%.

 

Broken Sound on Root Health

Turf health isn’t the only benefit Easter has seen with Holganix. There have been huge improvement in root length, mass and density. In fact, Easter won the 2014 Holganix “Roots For You” Award for the longest turf roots in America. “But the roots aren’t just longer,” says Easter. “We’ve seen a 50% increase in mass and density. Roots are longer and more dense than I’ve ever seen at Broken Sound.” Because of his healthy roots, Easter has been able to reduce irrigation by 12-13%. “That’s substantial savings for a course like ours,” states Easter.

 

Soil Analyses: CEC and Organic Matter Results

When Easter received his soil analysis results this year, he was excited by data showing increases in CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity) and decreases in organic matter. Overall, since using Holganix on his new course, he’s seen a 17% increase in CEC on fairways and a 27% increase on greens. On his older course (features sandy soils), CEC increased on fairways and tees by 9%. Interestingly enough, when Easter treated his greens without Holganix on the older course he saw a 5% decrease in CEC.

Cation Exchange Capacity is the ability of the soil to maintain and release nutrients to the plant. It’s the plant’s pantry. The larger the CEC, the more nutrients the pantry can hold and release to the plant. It’s a crucial measurement to plant health. The two main components of CEC are humus (the decomposed result of organic matter) and clay content.

So, why did CEC increase so drastically on the newer course as compared to the old? That’s because it’s often harder to boost CEC in sandy soils, where nutrients easily leach and organic matter is limited. For sandy soils, increases in organic matter can be beneficial (leads to humus), however for courses with denser soil, decreases in organic matter can be a huge benefit. Why? When organic matter degrades and is broken down by organisms, the end result is humus. Humus is a key ingredient in CEC, therefore, increase in humus often means an increase in CEC.

That’s why, when Easter received test results showing a decrease in organic matter on The Club Course he was intrigued. Ultimately, organic matter dropped on fairways by 6.5%, 29.9% on greens and 29.2% on paspalum tees.  The decrease in organic matter on the new course demonstrates that the living microorganisms in Holganix are hard at work, breaking down the organic matter, turning it into food sources for the plant and boosting CEC!

 

The Club Course

Dates: 9/20/14 – 9/20/15

Soil Type: Denser soils, formerly a strawberry farm, newer of the two courses

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Old Course Soil Analysis

Dates: 9/20/14 – 9/20/15

Soil Type: Sand based soils

Renovations at Broken Sound

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Perhaps one of Easter’s favorite success stories with Holganix was in 2014, when Broken Sound underwent a renovation on their older course. “Normally, after a renovation superintendents can expect to be mowing turf again in about six weeks. We were mowing turf in four!” Because of their amazing results, “we had superintendents from a dozen different states and three different countries examining the course. It was just that great.”

 

Conclusions

Easter doesn’t just use Holganix on greens and tees, “we use it wall to wall throughout the entire property and even on ornamentals.” Fairways experienced an improvement in rooting and divots filled in faster. “Recovery has been unbelievable.” Easter has also seen “way less disease pressure on his ornamentals.”

“I think the future of golf should include Holganix,” says Easter. Input restrictions are already happening for homeowners and lawn care companies, “It’s just a matter of time before they restrict golf too.”  When it comes to reducing inputs and keeping nutrients out of waterways, “Holganix should be part of everyone’s program”

Soil Science

Tags: florida golf course, sustainable golf course, cation exchange capacity, broken sound country club, shannon easter, root health, synthetic inputs

How can Holganix help with aeration?

During aeration, small plugs of soil are removed from the turf to loosen hard, compacted soils and increase oxygen exchange. It also improves water absorption and stimulates a deeper root system. The holes created in the soil from aeration allow fertilizers and soil amendments to enter the soil quickly and easily. In addition, thatch is reduced and microbial activity is accelerated!

The biological activity associated with aeration is further enhanced with the addition of Holganix, promoting increased breakdown of thatch and compaction, as well as building a healthier soil environment for the plant. Holganix increases thatch and compaction breakdown in two key ways: by promoting root development and by providing a boost of biology that ultimately breaks down organic matter.

  1. Promoting root development

Endo and ecto mycorrhizae and Trichoderma promote root development, which allows the plant to dig deeper into the soil and mine for nutrients and moisture. This not only aids in plant health but also increases the pore spaces within the soil, leading to a decrease in soil compaction. For more on endo and ecto mycorrhizae, click here.

  1. Biology breaks down organic matter

Biology present in Holganix goes to work, breaking down compacted soils and the plugs left behind during aeration. The biology then excretes nutrients in forms useable by the plant. For example, nitrogen fixing bacteria and phosphorus fixing bacteria present within Holganix eat organic matter’s nitrates and phosphates (which aren’t in a form useable by the plant) and excreting them as nitrites and phosphites (the plant useable form of these components).  Other ingredients within Holganix that excrete nutrients include but are not limited to, nematodes and protozoa.

Watch Dr. Bob's video for additional information on aeration.

 

Aeration-Info-Button

Tags: lawn care, holganix, the science behind holganix, root development, aeration, organic matter

Crank out that fall marketing plan!

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It seems like only yesterday we were excitedly preparing for the impending spring craze. Even though it may feel like we are in the midst of summer, fall is coming sooner than you think. Now is the time to start discussing your fall marketing plan in order to capitalize on growth opportunities for the end of 2015. What can you do to get your marketing plan in shape?

  • Create a fall BHAG. Creating a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, or BHAG, is critical for the season’s success. Gather up your team and discuss what your fall sales goal is for the season. Remember to break down your goal by week and day to make your BHAG more quantifiable. Check out this blog entry on BHAGs for additional information and instruction.  
 
  • What are you going to sell? Fall marketing allows you to promote those last 2 to 3 fertilizer applications but also acts as an avenue to up-sell your current customers. Remember to reach out to customers about upgrading their fertilization program to include core aeration and seeding and other fall specials.

  • Set the sales hook and reel them in! What incentives are you offering new customers for signing on with your company? Remember to keep core aeration and free fertilization in your back pocket of sales tricks. Offering current and prospective customers the ability to prepay in exchange for a small discount is another great hook! Your customers get a nice discount for their efforts and you get cash upfront for growth opportunities.
 
  • Join in on a fall marketing plan webinar. Holganix Communication Specialist, Suzanne Longacre, leads this webinar series designed to help get your fall marketing plan ship shape. You can RSVP for the Building Your Fall Marketing Plan webinar here

Register: Marketing Plan Webinar

Tags: lawn care, lawn care marketing, marketing plan, lawn care marketing plan, fall marketing plan, bhag, selling, fall sales

What is Cation Exchange Capacity?

Think of the soil as the pantry for plants, storing the necessary nutrients to feed the plant and ultimately boost plant health. The Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) is the soil’s ability to maintain and release nutrients to the plant. So, the higher the CEC, the larger the pantry and the more “food” the soil has the ability to store and feed to the plant. So what exactly is the CEC and why is it so important to plant health?

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First, we have to start with a little high school chemistry instruction. Soil is composed of sand, silt, clay and organic matter. Clay and organic matter particles have a net negative charge. Like a magnet, these particles will attract positively charged particles and repel negatively charged particles.

Elements (like nitrogen) with electrical charges are called ions. Negatively charged ions are anions while positively charged ions are cations. Cations (positively charged ions) cling on to clay and organic matter particles, and can be exchanged with other cations. “The total number of cations a soil can hold – or its total negative charge – is the soil’s cation exchange capacity. The higher the CEC, the higher the negative charge and the more cations that can be held” (Purdue University Cation Exchange Capacity Extension).

Cations on the soil’s exchange sites resupply those lost through leaching or uptake by plant roots. “The higher the CEC, the more cations which can be supplied” to the plant, ultimately boosting plant health (the end of the soil chemistry story!).

The exciting thing is that many golf course superintendents are finding a huge increase in their CEC following Holganix use. At Orchid Island Golf and Country Club in Vero Beach, Florida, Superintendent Matt Boyd is one of the superintendents reporting CEC improvements with Holganix. In 2013, Boyd recorded CEC levels of 4.81. One year after introducing Holganix to Orchid Island’s agronomic program, Boyd reports an increase in CECs from 4.81 in 2013, to 7.78 in 2015!

Shannon Easter, Director of Operations of Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton, Florida has also seen improvements in CEC. Over all, after using Holganix for one year, he’s seen a 17% increase in CEC on fairways and a 27% increase on greens.

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So how does Holganix increase CEC levels? As discussed previously, there are two soil ingredients contributing to CEC: clay content and humus. Both are negatively charged. Because Holganix stimulates digestion of organic matter, we increase humus levels and thereby increase CEC levels.

Soil Science

Tags: soil, soil health, the science behind holganix, soil food web, cec, cation exchange capacity

"Holganix helps build my soil chemistry" - Orchid Island Golf & Country Club

Tucked on a barrier reef island, off the coast of Vero Beach, Florida, lies Orchid Island Golf and Country Club. Originally designed by championship golfer Arnold Palmer, Orchid Island’s course features eighteen-holes of immaculate greens, tee boxes and fairways. In 2005, Orchid Island, “achieved the distinction of becoming a certified Audubon cooperative sanctuary by Audubon International Sanctuary System, the education Division to Audubon International, which recognizes environmental stewardship.”

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According to superintendent, Matthew Boyd, “Orchid Island is an atypical environment.” It’s in a microclimate all of it’s own, with sandy soils and an ever present sea wind that keeps the soil dry. It makes nurturing the course a challenge but one Boyd takes pleasure in. “Holganix helps build up my soil chemistry,” explains Boyd, something that’s crucial for a course like Orchid Island. Over all, Holganix helped Boyd improve rooting, CEC levels and carbon to nitrogen ratio.

The first thing Boyd noticed after starting Holganix in 2014 was “deeper, denser rooting on greens.” Initially, he also saw improved playability due to increased consistency on his greens, and less disease than years past (although he admits that it’s hard to quantify reductions in disease due to variability in past years).

Perhaps the easiest way to sum up Boyd’s superintendent style is data enthusiastic. He constantly monitors the course’s progress and has teamed up with an agronomist to better research and customize his agronomic program. The thing that blew Boyd away were his soil analysis results which were taken one year after incorporating the Holganix program along with other various organic profile amendments. Included in the data summary were huge improvements to Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) along with the soil organic carbon to nitrogen ratio.

“We had steady improvements in soil health both before and after Holganix, especially with our CEC,” says Boyd. What does CEC mean? Think of it this way, the soil acts as a pantry/storehouse for all plant nutrients required by the plant. The soil’s ability to hold, maintain and release essential nutrients is Cation Exchange Capacity. So, the greater the CEC, the more nutrients the soil can store and the happier the plant.

From 2010 to 2013, Boyd utilized an alternative biological supplement and had a slight, yet steady increase in CEC achieving 4.81 M.E. in 2013. One year after incorporating Holganix into Orchid Island’s agronomic program, Boyd reports an increase in CECs from 4.81 in 2013, to 7.78 in 2015! That’s over a 60% increase!

Also revealed in the soil test was a noticeable difference in organic matter. Overall, organic humus has increased from .42 to 2.8% – something that is crucial to the health of sand-based soils. Why is humus crucial to sandy soils? It increases the soils capacity to hold and store essential plant nutrients, decreases the potential for leaching, assists in the remediation of excess sodium and bicarbonate and provides a sustainable food source for both plants and beneficial soil biology. Yet, thatch has decreased. “That’s because the biology within Holganix was converting all of the old growth found in the organic matter into nutrients that are available to the plant,” explains Boyd.

Furthermore, Boyd’s soil organic carbon to nitrogen ratio increased dramatically after one year of Holganix. “My carbon to nitrogen ratios are better than they used to be,” says Boyd. “That’s awesome because all of that free carbon is food for the microbes and the microbes just take off!”

Overall, Boyd is excited by the progress he’s seen with Holganix at Orchid Island. “Soil microbiology is going to be a hot topic in the next ten years and Holganix is right in the middle of it,” says Boyd. 

Turf roots

Tags: soil health, holganix reviews, golf course, organic fertilizer, holganix review, soil amendment, orchid island golf and country club, carbon exchange capacity, soil analysis, nitrogen ratio, organic matter

Soil is home to biology!

The soil is truly a living thing, filled with millions and billions of life forms, busily working away according to Mother Nature’s plans. In fact, one teaspoon of agricultural or turf soil contains:

-       100 million to 1 billion bacteria

-       Several yards of mycelium (fungi)

-       7,000 protozoa

-       10-20 nematodes

-       Up to 100 arthropods

-       5 - 30 earth worms

What happens in the soil when everything is balanced and functioning as Mother Nature intended?

 

1. All functional soil is a balanced environment, where plants, microbes, protozoa, nematodes and worms contribute to the well-being of each other. For example, plants exude sugars, amino acids and organic acids through photosynthesis into the soil. Bacteria and fungi then eat the plant exudates. Next, the bacteria and fungi are eaten by each other, as well as by protozoa, nematodes and worms. In the end, all soil organisms die (including plants) and become organic matter. This dead biomass then becomes food for the living organisms in the soil.

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2. In a functional soil, biology contributes to soil structure. Exudates from plant, microorganisms, and multi-celled organisms serve as a glue assisting in the aggregation of soil particles. While worms, tunnel in the soil, creating air space and to facilitate drainage within the soil.

 

3. In a functional soil, microorganisms decompose organic matter. In fact, without microorganisms, dead plant and animal life wouldn’t decompose. Ultimately, soils would become putrid and compaction layers would be created. However, with microorganisms, decomposition occurs naturally. During decomposition, microorganisms provide nutrients (including carbon) to the soil and create humus (the stable form – an end product of organic matter decomposition), contributing to the soil structure.

 

4. In a functional soil, organisms (including plants) contribute to a mineralization cycle. Nutrients are immobilized when they are used by plants and soil organisms. When immobilized, minerals are tied up in the chemistry of living organisms. Immobilized nutrients are freed (this is called mineralization) to be used by all living organisms when other organisms die. During decomposition these nutrients are released from multi-cell plants and animals. When single cell organisms die, the cell walls break and chemicals and nutrients are released to the soil.

 

5. In a functional soil, nitrogen fixing bacteria (Rhizobia) and nitrifying bacteria make nitrogen available to plants.

Nitrogen fixing (rhizobia) live in a symbiotic relationship with roots of legumes (beans, alfalfa, clover). The bacteria receive sugars and other plant chemicals from the plant and in return, Rhizobia convert nitrogen from the soil atmosphere into nitrogen compounds usable by the plant.

Nitrifying bacteria live in the soil (not in direct association with plants). These bacteria change nitrogen in the soil from ammonium to nitrite and then to nitrate (a plant usable form of nitrogen).

 

mycorrhizae

6. In a functional soil, certain fungi live in symbiotic (help each other) relationships with plants. For example, mycorrhizae are fungi that live in direct association with plant roots. In this relationship the plants provide sugars, amino acids and other plant acids to the fungi. The fungi then facilitate water and nutrient uptake by the roots. There are two different types of mycorrhizae: Endo and Ecto Mycorrhizae. Endo mycorrhizae penetrate and attach to the root hairs of the plant roots. However, Ecto mycorrhizae lie in close proximity to the plant roots but do not actually penetrate the cell wall of the root hair.

 7. In a functional soil, fungi and bacteria serve different decomposition roles. Fungi have evolved to be expert organisms for decomposition of lignin, which is abundant in tree, leaf and branch litter on the forest floor. This is one of the reasons why fungi dominate in forest soil as opposed to agricultural or turf soil. On the other hand, agricultural and turf plants exude large amounts of sugars and organic chemicals. These are easily digested by bacteria. That, in addition to low lignin content in agricultural and turf litter, is why bacteria dominate this soil.

 

Want to learn more? Click the movie below to watch Dr. Bob’s webinar entitled Digging into the soil food web.

Tags: Dr. Neidermyer, the science behind holganix, Mycorrhizae, organic fertilizer, soil food web, nitrogen fixing bacteria