The Holganix Blog

What is agriculture?

“Ag is…” Agriculture means so many different things to so many different people. But, when Yield Lab Group blogger, Stephen Fairbanks asked Holganix Director of Plant and Soil Sciences, Dr. Robert Neidermyer to complete the sentence, “Ag is,” Dr. Bob had a philosophical response. “Ag is doing the right thing for the next generation,” says Dr. Bob. “We need to put the right balance back in the soil.”

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It’s no surprise he’s alluding to Holganix and other bionutritional products as the answer. “Holganix is biology in a can,” states Dr. Bob. “It’s a probiotic.” Just like in human health, adding probiotics to a plant fertility program can have big payoffs. Probiotics are products that add beneficial microorganisms back to the soil. By adding beneficial microorganisms, Holganix puts the soil food web back in balance, naturally boosting plant health and reducing the need for synthetic inputs by up to 75%.

With fertilizer and pesticide reduction mandates existing and pending on both the federal and state level, high costs of inputs, in addition to the threat of nutrient run off into waterways, “it’s bound to be given serious consideration by farmers,” says Yield Lab.

The Yield Lab Group is an Ag Tech focused business accelerator based in St. Louis. It has selected Holganix to be among the first group of six companies for The Yield Lab program and investment. In addition to funding the businesses chosen to participate in the accelerator, The Yield Lab pairs companies with mentors in the Ag Tech space and works with the companies to succeed in their chosen field. “It’s been invaluable to our agricultural segment at Holganix,” says Dr. Bob. “It’s helping us structure how to best get the product into the hands of farmers and understand just how powerful Holganix can be for their crop production program.”

“With the attention being paid to nutrient management today, and given Holganix’ early success during their first five years in operation,” says Yield Lab, “their potential market impact is exciting to consider.”

 

Tags: organic farm, organic agriculture, holganix, organic fertilizer, agriculture, holganix agriculture, yield lab group

Grow your lawn care business through tree and shrub applications

If you haven’t already started marketing your tree and shrub program, now is the time! Tree and shrub programs not only allow you to beautify your customers’ landscapes but are also an excellent source of additional revenue from current and prospective customers. And who doesn’t like that? In fact, you can expect 10-30% of your current customers to sign up for tree and shrub applications.

When designing a marketing campaign, including elements of both inbound and outbound marketing is key. Outbound marketing includes direct mail, telemarketing and advertising. It’s designed to push customer to you. However, inbound marketing includes tactics like social media, blogging and SEO. It’s designed to pull customers to you. Including inbound marketing tactics in conjunction with your outbound marketing efforts is the sweet spot.

Don’t know where to get started? Try following this sample marketing campaign timeline for a source of inspiration (see below). Then, watch the webinar to dig into the optimal methods of marketing tree and shrub.

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In this webinar you’ll learn:

  • Why you should include tree and shrub applications in your service portfolio
  • How to determine who is your target market?
  • How to build a tree and shrub campaign including inbound and outbound marketing tactics.
  • What your marketing campaign timeline should look like.
  • About the numerous tools Holganix has available for marketing tree and shrub, including free postcard designs.

 

Soil Science

Tags: marketing, lawn care marketing, Tree and Shrub care, lawn care equipment

Turn up the Heat! Speaking with Customers About Summer Weather

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Currently, over 50% of the country is suffering from extremely dry conditions. Unfortunately, summer has only just begun and conditions will worsen as time goes on. The good news is that if you’re using Holganix, your lawns on average are looking better than your synthetic-using competitor! However, if Mother Nature decides to dish out her usual drought-like conditions in July and August, it’s important to have a conversation with your customers about what’s going on with their lawns and what they can do to help!

In previous companies, Holganix CEO Barrett Ersek always made a point to reach out to customers to address summer heat concerns before the summer heat became too much of a problem. At Holganix, we want to help you get the conversation going. Steal this ready-to-mail homeowner letter to help communicate summer heat conditions with your customers. It goes over everything from appropriate watering times to mowing techniques for the summer weather. Just copy and paste your company logo, and it’s ready to hit the mailbox! Feel free to tweak and alter the message for your region and company. If you have any questions moving forward, please don’t hesitate to reach out and give us a call. We are here to help!   

  Download your drought letter

 

Tags: drought resistance, lawn care, marketing hints and tips, lawn care companies, drought, weather stress

10X Payback on Tomatoes with Holganix Agriculture?

“Last year, I ran into an agronomist from Red Gold – a big tomato processor in Indiana and told him about Holganix,” reflects Mark Sybouts, Sales and Product Development Manager of Holganix distributor, Advanced Turf Solutions.

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Red Gold processes 12,000 acres of tomatoes from the Indiana, Michigan and Ohio regions. Sybouts proposed doing research with the Holganix Agriculture product and was offered a spot in the Red Gold demo plot. The plot contained enough space to plant and study two rows of tomato crops, each row totaling 130 feet in length.

After discussing the idea with Dr. Bob, Holganix’s Director of Plant and Soil Sciences, Sybouts decided to test a four Holganix application program on the tomatoes to look for fruit yield or quality increases. One row would be treated with Holganix and the second would act as a control however, both rows would receive the same quantity of inputs. Seven days after transplanting the tomatoes, Sybouts applied his first round of Holganix Agriculture at 1.7 gallons per acre. Four weeks later, he did a second application at half that rate. “Before I did the third application, I studied the plants carefully by randomly selecting four plants and counting and weighing the fruit to conduct a statistical analysis. There was no visual difference between those tomatoes treated with Holganix and those not treated with Holganix.” Disappointed, Sybouts applied the third application.

After the third application, Sybouts was pleased that he could now see a difference in the plants. “The foliage was greener but I couldn’t see a visible difference in the fruit" (see picture comparison above). Intrigued, Sybouts decided to forego doing the last application as harvest was only one week away.

“The next week I hand harvested the plot by selecting 4 random plots that were 5 feet long in each row," says Sybouts. "I segregated the fruit into piles of: Red, red-yellow, and green, weighed the fruit from each plot and ran a statistical analysis. Those tomatoes treated with Holganix yielded 51.3 tons per acre while the untreated came in at 46.7 tons per acre with a 90% statistical significance. That’s a 10x payback over the cost of the Holganix used per acre."

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That experiment raised some eyebrows in the industry. “As a result, we are now testing what Holganix Agriculture can do from a commercial perspective,” says Sybouts.

“The beautiful thing in the agriculture business is that there is no mistaking an increase in value. It’s objective. It’s all about the money. There’s no arguing with the money,” says Sybouts. And, with a 10x payback using Holganix, it will be interesting to see what happens during their commercial tomato testing.

Soil Science

Tags: organic agriculture, organic fertilizer, agriculture, compost tea, fertilizer, holganix agriculture, tomato, tomatoes

How do you market tree and shrub applications?

Have you started marketing your tree and shrub program to current customers yet? Late spring and early summer is the key time for the Northeast area to market tree and shrub because insects and disease will start to attack! In general, you can expect to have 10 – 30% of your current customers sign up for tree and shrub applications. It’s like new found money! Here are some tips to consider as you develop your tree and shrub marketing strategy.

 love_the_tree

Going the direct mail route:

You can take three different avenues when considering a direct mail route. First, you can send out prepay letters for the remainder of services along with tree and shrub applications to current customers. Another option is to send a prepay letter specifically for tree and shrub applications. And yet a third option is to send out a postcard to current customers. Following up with a telemarketing campaign to customers that received a tree and shrub direct mail piece will increase your return on investment significantly. No matter the direct mail or telemarketing route you decide to pursue, be sure you include an offer to entice your customers to give a tree and shrub program a try. One of our favorite offers is including a free winterizer application.

Click here to see a free postcard that we will customize with your logo, contact information and offers so you have a great looking piece to send to customers and increase sales! If interested, email Suzanne at slongacre@holganix.com  for additional information.

 

Including inbound marketing:

An ideal marketing campaign for tree and shrub would not just include outbound marketing strategies such as direct mail and telemarketing campaigns, but would contain inbound marketing campaigns as well. Right before mailing your post cards and prepay letters, consider sending an email newsletter or blog post to current customers, highlighting the benefits received from tree and shrub applications. Also consider tweeting and posting two to three times per week, the benefits of tree and shrub applications during your marketing campaign.

Never done an email marketing campaign? Click here for tips then check out MyEmma – an email marketing platform that includes tons of tracking information to help monitor your ROI. Need some inspiration with which to craft your fabulous email newsletter blog or social media post? Check out these key benefits to tree and shrub programs.

Grow your lawn care company

Tags: marketing hints and tips, lawn care marketing, Tree and Shrub care, lawn care busienss marketing

The Science Behind Holganix: What are dead zones?

Dead zones, also known as Hypoxia, occur when there isn’t enough oxygen to support most marine life. When nitrogen and phosphorous run off into our water systems, algae bloom growth increases, robbing the water of oxygen. A big source of nitrogen and phosphorous run off is the use of fertilizers, whose main components are nitrogen and phosphorous.

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How do they occur?

Nitrogen and phosphorous are washed into our streams, lakes, bays and oceans, promoting the growth of phytoplankton blooms, and in turn zooplankton (which feed off of phytoplankton). When phytoplankton and zooplankton waste decomposes, oxygen is used faster than can be replaced, leading to the formation of dead zones. According to NOAA, “Dead zones are biological desserts.”

Dead zones can form naturally, but human activity can play a role, contributing to the growth and severity of dead zones.

 

Where do they occur?

The Virginia Institute of Marine Scientists estimate that over 400 dead zones exist worldwide. The second largest dead zone is located in the Gulf of Mexico covering 7,500 – 8,500 square miles. While size fluctuates throughout the year; it has doubled in size since the 1980’s. Other U.S. dead zones are located in the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and areas along the east and west coast of the USA. According to the NCCOS, “over half of the U.S. estuaries now experience natural or harm-induced hypoxia conditions at some time each year and evidence suggests that the frequency and duration of dead zones have increase over the last few decades.”


What does this mean?

Marine organisms occupying areas where dead zones occur are at risk, affecting their physiological stress, growth, reproduction and survival. For those marine organisms that cannot escape, dead zones are deadly. Dead zones can have a drastic effect on commercial and recreational fisheries. According to NOAA, “based on experiences in other coastal and marine systems, worsening hypoxic conditions could lead to a serious decline of ecologically and commercially important species.”


What can you do to help?

If you're a homeowner, you can be part of the dead zone solution by being careful which products you or your lawn care service utilize to maintain the health of your lawn. By choosing to incorporate organic practices into your lawn care maintenance ritual or by purchasing lawn care services from companies using organic products, you can help limit the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that run into our local waterways.  Thanks for doing your part!

 

Resources

http://www.scientificamerican.com/media/inline/2008-08-15_bigMap.jpg

http://www.noaa.gov/factsheets/new%20version/dead_zones.pdf

https://www.lakeforest.edu/academics/programs/environmental/courses/seniorseminar/springbreak/students/burke.php

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/deadzone.html

http://www.cop.noaa.gov/stressors/pollution/

 

http://www.balticnest.org/balticnest/activities/news/news/deadzoneshaveincreasedbymorethan10foldinthelastcentury.5.3186f824143d05551ad52e7.html

http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/lessons/files/2013/05/Credit-Tom-Archer-Lake-Erie-algal-bloom-P1010679.jpg

http://www.vims.edu/research/topics/dead_zones/  

 

Register for the webinar: Digging into the soil food web

 

Tags: holganix, the science behind holganix, organic fertilizer, fertilizer, environment, deadzone, dead zone, environmental footprint

Where does Muirfield Village Golf Club Use Holganix?

For Paul B. Latshaw, Director of Grounds Operations at Muirfield Village Golf Club, it all started in the fall of 2013. “That’s when I first heard about Holganix,” says Paul. “The fact that Holganix began as a compost tea intrigued me.”

Paul started testing Holganix on areas where Muirfield had tree and stump removal and during post aeration treatments, then expanded to greens. By 2014, Paul started using Holganix in just about every aspect of Muirfield’s turf program including: greens, tees, fairways, renovation projects, flowers, trees and shrubs.

 

Results on greens and tees

I think one of the biggest benefits of Holganix is root depth and density, especially on greens. It’s way better than anything we’ve seen prior to using Holganix,” says Paul. A lack of surge growth was another asset. “I never saw the huge release of nitrogen from all the bacteria in the soil profile. That’s good because I was able to control my clipping yield.”

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Paul started using Holganix on his greens in 2013 with an initial application rate of 14 ounces per 1,000 square feet. Since then he’s applied Holganix monthly during the growing season at a rate of 7 ounces per 1,000 square feet. His greens primarily contain forms of bentgrass with 20% to 30% Poa invasion depending on the green. Looking forward, “we might try to do Holganix on greens on a bi-weekly cycle or a little bit sooner.”

For his bentgrass tees, Paul started with an initial application of 7 ounces per 1,000 square feet and has continued using it at that rate on a monthly schedule. “The Holganix program really helps us out with our plant health on greens and tees,” states Paul.

 

Results on fairways

We’ve tried just about every product on fairways when it comes to removing thatch. Holganix is the first product I’ve used that actually has merit and it’s something we continue to monitor,” says Paul. It’s also the “first year we didn’t have an anthracnose break out on fairways,” says Paul. While it’s difficult to say that Holganix is the number one reason for the decrease in anthracnose, Paul affirms that it’s definitely played a role. Overall, when comparing Holganix to check plots, areas treated with Holganix “had more vigor than those not applied with Holganix.”

Paul started using Holganix on a couple of select fairways in the spring of 2013. By July of 2013, Paul was using Holganix on all fairways, “because you could see the difference.” Paul applies Holganix to his predominantly bentgrass fairways at a rate of 7 ounces per 1,000 square feet with his monthly wetting agent program.

 

Results on renovation projects

“We really started seeing a big rooting benefit with Holganix in 2013.” Between the Memorial and President’s Cup, the club decided to increase a green by 40 yards in length, in addition to adding a tee and two acres of undisturbed turf area. “It ended up being more complex than anticipated… and I was concerned about playability for the President’s Cup.” On August 13, 2013, 45 days before the President’s Cup, sod was installed. “The first thing we did was apply 14 ounces of Holganix Golf.”

By September 13, the renovation looked fantastic. “As far as rooting and establishment, I’ve never been able to get sod established this quickly, especially at such a difficult time of year.” While Paul did have staff hand watering and monitoring the turf at all times, “Holganix really helped. We had no issues going into the President’s Cup.”

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Results on greenhouse production: trees, shrubs and flowers

Muirfield Village Golf Club has two, 3,000 square foot greenhouses containing 2,200 hanging baskets and 9,000 plants. Muirfield’s Horticulturist, Tim Hollowell, CGCS started using Holganix in the greenhouses in 2012. During production, Tim makes monthly applications of Holganix to his flowers using Holganix Bloom. He’s seen an increase in drought tolerance, less disease, and an extended bloom time. For example, “We have 1,000 rhododendrons. I lose at least a couple dozen rhododendrons due to phytopthora each year,” claims Tim. “Since using Holganix, I’ve seen huge reductions in the number of lost rhododendrons. They’re much healthier.” Click here to learn more about Tim’s results.

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Future uses:

You might think Paul has implemented Holganix in every applicable area of his course, but he is actually considering adding Holganix to roughs and natural grass areas too. Building the soil food web adjacent to the playable course areas only helps maintain the balance within the greens tees and fairways. It’s all an ecosystem, and Holganix keeps it in harmony.

 

Want to learn more about Paul's Holganix experience? Check out our interview with Paul Latshaw here.

Watch: Interview with Paul Latshaw

Tags: holganix reviews, organic fertilizer, root development, holganix review, golf, muirfield village golf club

5 Things You Didn't Know About Organic Fertilizer

*Note: If viewing this blog via email, you will need to click on the title and access the blog online to view the above slide share.

 

1. Organic Fertilizer Isn’t New

The first form of fertilizer was organic. In fact, Egyptians, Native Americans and Romans among other early civilization used some form of minerals, manure or composting to promote healthier crops. 

2. Organic Fertilizer Can Contain Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium

Just because it’s organic, doesn’t mean it contains no NPK. Some organic fertilizers contain natural forms of NPK, directly affecting the plant health. Other types of organic fertilizer like soil amendments do not contain NPK and therefore indirectly affect plant health. Click here for additional information on the difference between synthetic fertilizer, organic fertilizer and soil amendments.

3.  Organic Fertilizers Are Researched-Based and Validated

One common misconception regarding organic fertilizers is that they aren’t researched based. This is far from the truth. Today, many organic fertilizers are supported by university studies and third party field-testing and validation. When searching for organic fertilizers, ask for their research reports. Click here for university testing on Healthy Grow (granular, organic fertilizer) and Holganix (liquid, bionutritional organic fertilizer).

4. Organic Fertilizers Are Cost Effective

Just because it’s organic, doesn’t mean it isn’t cost Effective. Whether you DIY or purchase from an organic fertilizer manufacturer, there are many cost effective products available.

 5. Organic Fertilizer May Or May Not Contain Living Biology

Some organic fertilizers do not contain living biology but may contain food sources, which is still a great benefit. Other organic products contain living, beneficial microorganisms and are designed to set the soil food web back in balance, taking a probiotic approach to plant health. Learn more about the benefits of living microorganisms here. 

Register for the webinar: Digging into the soil food web

Tags: the science behind holganix, organic lawn care, organic fertilizer, soil food web

Tree and Shrub Root Drench at Muirfield Village Golf Club

Last week, Holganix employees Chris Bittles and Kaitlyn Ersek had the amazing opportunity to visit Muirfield Village Golf Club to assist with preparations for their 40th Annual Memorial Tournament. Check out their video where Chris and Kaity, under the direction of Muirfield’s Horticulturist, Tim Hollowell CGCS, perform a Holganix-rich root drench prior to planting annuals and perennials that will line the exquisite course.

P.S. A big thank you from the Holganix team to everyone at Muirfield Village for giving Chris and Kaitlyn the chance to get an insider's perspective of the golf world and the meticulous tournament preparation. Good luck to the entire Muirfield team this week! We all know you are working hard! 

Register for the webinar: Digging into the soil food web

Tags: Holganix tree and shrub, muirfield village, muirfield village golf club

The Science Behind Holganix: Healthy soil, healthy world

If you pick up a handful of soil, you will be holding more microorganisms in your hand than the entire number of people who ever lived on earth. There will also be more biological diversity than in an entire African Savannah. Soil is full of life! Watch this TEDx video and see what soil looks like from the perspective of a microorganism. 

 

Register for the webinar: Digging into the soil food web

Tags: organic fertilizer products, soil, the science behind holganix, bionutrition, organic fertilizer, soil food web, soil microorganism