The Science Behind Holganix
What if we made phosphorus efficient?
In the green/agricultural industry, we have been so focused on escaping looming fertilizer legislation (restricting nitrogen and phosphorous use) that we have neglected to notice a developing crisis for fertilizer users that could be more menacing than meddling government agencies. What if phosphorous suddenly disappeared? According to biologist Mohamed Hijri in a recent TED Talk, the idea of running out of phosphorus is becoming more and more tangible.
All roads lead back to how we fertilize plants and crops. Phosphorous is key to plant development. Yet only 15% of the phosphorous we apply on a daily basis is utilized by plants, and 85% remains unused in the soil or leeches away into our water systems, resulting in environmental conflicts. What if we could make the plant more efficient in its use of phosphorus?
According to Hijri, the efficient use of phosphorous isn’t just a daydream. Mycorrhizae, a fungus that has been present for thousands of years, could be the solution. Mycorrhizae enhances the ability of the plant to uptake nutrients, including phosphorous, through a symbiotic relationship it forms with the plant. By applying mycorrhizae to corn, Hijri has been able to decrease his use of phosphorous by half and receive a better yield than previously with synthetics. In Cuba and Mexico, Hijri cites the use of mycorrhizae allowing farmers to decrease their use of phosphorous by 75%.
The use of mycorrhizae to reduce phosphorous use isn’t just happening overseas! By utilizing bionutritional products such as Holganix, users can receive the benefits of mycorrhizae - a core component in some bionutritional products. For example, Holganix users have been able to reduce their use of synthetics by up to 90% while still maintaining optimal results. Through extended use, Holganix users are able to continue decreasing their use of phosphorous as well as nitrogen and pesticides. To learn more about the unique relationship between mycorrhizae and phosphorous, check out Hijri’s TED Talk here.
The Science Behind Holganix
Nitrogen Has Stayinig Power
How long does nitrogen fertilizer remain in the soil? According to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, nitrogen applied to soils today could remain in the soil for 80 years. The researchers used radioactive nitrogen to determine the length of time nitrogen persists in soil. “The reason why some of the nitrogen is remaining unavailable to the plant,” states Dr. Neidermyer, Director of Soil and Plant Sciences at Holganix, “is because the nitrogen is locked in a form that is unavailable to the plant.” Learning to harness the locked nitrogen within the soil could allow commercial users to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizer they spread on turf and plants.
“Nitrogen is a very dynamic element. It not only exists on Earth in many forms (78% of the Earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen gas), but it also undergoes many transformations in and out of the soil.” (University of Hawaii). The locked nitrogen, referred to by Dr. Neidermyer, exists in soil organic matter. Microorganisms in the soil decompose the organic matter releasing nitrates, which are available to the plant roots. This process is called mineralization.
According to Dr. Neidermyer, “The microorganisms necessary for mineralization [known as nitrogen fixing and nitrifying bacteria] are among the components of Holganix.” Ultimately, this allows users to help unlock the nitrogen already present in the soil and make it available for plant consumption, decreasing the need for nitrogen fertilizer.
The Holganix Blog
5 reasons to be grateful for turfgrass this Thanksgiving
Five reasons why you should say thank you to your turf this Thanksgiving:
- Turfgrass cleans the air of pollution! Turfrgrass converts carbon dioxide into oxygen. In fact, a turf area just 50 feet by 50 feet absorbs carbon dioxide, ozone and other atmospheric pollutants and releases enough oxygen to meet the needs of a family of four.
- Turfgrass helps control erosion. With up to 90% of the weight of a grass plant in its roots, it makes a very efficient erosion prevention device. In fact, Turgrass is the most sustainable and effective solution to prevent soil erosion.
- Turf grass helps filter pollutants from run off and can purify and recharge ground water supply, protecting America’s water systems from harm.
- A well-manicured lawn can boost the selling price of your home by 15%! Furthermore, a Gallup Survey reported 62% of all U.S. homeowners felt an investment in lawns and landscaping was as good or better than other home improvements.
- Grass areas quickly affect people’s moods by creating feelings of serenity, privacy, thoughtfulness or happiness, and its yearly cycles of growth and color change lift human spirits and link urban inhabitants with their countryside heritage.
Why Is Holganix Refrigerated?
R.W. Neidermyer, Holganix, Director of Soil and Plant Research
Holganix LLC, the manufacturers of Holganix Blend 66L – Super Concentrate and Holganix 66GC – Super Concentrate, recommends that these products be refrigerated prior to use. Why does Holganix make this recommendation? Holganix products are complex. As you might expect, the answer to the “why” question is also complex.
The Holganix Blend products are derived from concentrated, compost tea that has been formulated with various organic components. The concentrated, compost tea is a blend of organic molecules and living microorganisms extracted from specially produced compost. The living microorganisms consist of beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes.
Microorganisms can be classified into three distinct categories. These categories are aerobes, anaerobes and facultative anaerobes. Aerobic bacteria (aerobes) are bacteria that need oxygen to survive. Their counterpart – anaerobes – can’t exist in oxygenated environments and instead thrive off of nutrients such as sulfate, nitrate or sulfur. The third type of microorganisms are facultative anaerobes, which function as anaerobes when oxygen is present but have the ability to also function as anaerobes when oxygen is depleted. One noticeable result of thriving anaerobes or facultative aerobes by humans is a foul smell.
Many of the microorganisms contained in Holganix are aerobic and therefore need oxygen to survive. When stored for long periods (over 72 hours) at room temperature and above, the Holganix microorganisms use the oxygen contained in a jug, quickly depleting the oxygen within the jug. The lack of oxygen kills the aerobic bacteria and facultative anaerobes in the product will switch from acting as aerobes to anaerobes. The results are dramatic. The jug may swell as the levels of oxygen are depleted and the levels of carbon dioxide rise. Furthermore, the product will begin to give off a foul odor.
Why are aerobes or bacteria that function as aerobes so important for plant health? It all comes down to which bacteria will happily thrive in the soil. Healthy soil is an oxygen rich environment which means it supports the functioning of aerobic bacteria (that are dependent upon oxygen) as opposed to bacteria that behave anaerobically.
Holganix LLC recommends refrigerating the product between 33 to 45° F for long-term storage. The product can be safely stored at room temperature prior to use for up to 72 hours. When refrigerated, respiration is greatly slowed down and the biology is dormant. The jug will not swell and bad-smelling off products will not be produced. The product remains in an aerobic shape and ready to be applied. In order to facilitate refrigerated storage, Holganix LLC provides refrigerated storage equipment (at no cost) to clients. (Click here to learn more about Holganix refrigeration options.)
Holganix Roots For You! - Lawn Care Edition
“Simply put: Rootastic!” reported Keith Jackson of Hydroseed inc, in Indiana when asked about his results while using Holganix. Jackson, who was awarded second place for his 12-inch root in the Holganix Roots for You root competition, has been excited with the performance of Holganix on his turf. According to Jackson, “I am truly amazed at the root depth I was able to achieve with the help of Holganix.”
The Holganix Roots for You root competition announced its winner in the lawn care industry on October 23 at the Bionutritional Summit in Louisville, Kentucky. The winner of the competition received a $500 cash prize as well as a $500 cash prize donation made in the winner’s name to PLANET. “When it came down to picking winners, the competition was tough!” states Holganix CEO Barrett Ersek. “At the end of the day, we realized that we couldn’t pick just one winner.” In a spur-of-the-moment decision, Holganix decided to issue second- and third-place winners with a $100 cash prize.
First place went to Terry Jungles of Total Lawn Care inc, for his 13-inch root. Second place was issued to Keith Jackson of Hydroseed inc, for his 12-inch root while Tommy Cowett of GrowinGreen received third place for his 9-inch root. “Everyone was excited and cheering when the winners were announced at the Summit,” recalls Nicole Wise, Head of Marketing at Holganix. “Terry Jungles took his prize money back to his crew and split it among the whole team.” See the competition results below.
Although the lawn care industry winners have been announced, the Holganix Roots For You competition continues. Both the golf course and sports turf management industries are still ongoing. Winners for the golf course industry will be announced at GCSAA while Sports Turf winners will be announced at STMA. To get involved in the competition, visit www.holganix.com/roots.
Terry Jungles of Total Lawn Care inc,
Root depth: 13 inches
Holganix rate: 7 ounces per 1,000 sq feet (4 applications)
Nitrogen rate: .3 pounds of nitrogen from urea per 1,000 sq feet (3 applications), .125 pounds per 1,000 sq feet of nitrogen from methylene urea
Keith Jackson of Hydroseed inc,
Root depth: 12 inches
Holganix rate: 7 ounces per 1,000 sq feet (3 applications)
Nitrogen rate: .25 lb per 1,000 sq feet (3 applications)
Tommy Cowett of GrowinGreen
Root depth: 9 inches
Holganix rate: 3 ounces per 1,000 sq feet (2 applications)
Nitrogen rate: unknown
Marketing Hints and Tips:
Let's Talk Profit
Making a profit in lawn care may seem a little tough in today’s economy. Not only are we in a recession, but we also face volatile synthetic fertilizer prices and strict government regulations on what, where and when we spray. However, things are much brighter than they appear. Our CEO, Barrett Ersek, has a saying: “Adversity is a leading indicator of success (go back and remember this saying).” Change is imminent. Even though we may find ourselves in a pickle, we should look at this as a gift and opportunity to get creative and innovate in the lawn care world. Profit can be made, even under the present circumstances so long as we are willing to go the extra mile. Does it sound too good to be true? Let me share with you some of the things Barrett did in his last lawn care company that allowed him to go from $0 to $10 million dollars in revenue in 5 short years.
There are two ways to increase profits: cut costs or grow. The latter is more fun, but let’s look at ways where you can do both and win big time.
Cutting costs: Does the idea of spending less make you wince? Well, take a deep breath. Cutting costs are important but I’m not going to ask you to stop purchasing for your company; I’m just going to ask you to try doing this a little differently. It will save you money and time… both of which a busy entrepreneur such as yourself needs.
- Golden streets: If you are a subscriber to our blog (and I recommend that you are), then you may be familiar to the termgolden street approach. This is a tool Barrett utilized in his previous company to cut costs but to also gain more valuable customers. It’s all about refocusing your attention on areas/neighborhoods/streets where your most profit-providing customers live (think McMansions). Wowify these clients with superior services and reach out to their neighbors. Develop a way to own these neighborhoods and you not only gain super profit-providing customers, but you cut down on windshield time. Windshield time is the time that your guys spend sitting in a truck going from place to place instead of spraying lawns and bringing in revenue. Windshield time can be a major drag on your revenue. Learn how to grade your neighborhoods by utilizing this criteria sheet.
- Daily huddle: Having a daily huddle, at least once a week for 10 minutes, may not seem like a way to cut costs, but it does. Have a meeting with some of the other top people in your company and discuss what’s stopping progress. It will allow you to solve roadblocks faster and draw on ideas of your employees on the best way to get things done. Talk about productivity! Visit growth guru Verne Harnish’s article to learn more.
- Volatile synthetic fertilizers are a no: One of the biggest costs in a lawn care company is the amount you pay for the actual fertilizer. Fertilizer prices are volatile and when they rise, your margins shrink. Bionutritional products or other hybrid products can allow you to cut down on your fertilizer and pesticide rates in huge amounts. They save you money and allow you to break free from your dependence on volatile fertilizer prices.
Grow, Grow, Grow: The golden street approach is one key way where you can grow and save money at the same time. What are other ways to grow your lawn care company and bring in more revenue? Let’s explore a few.
- Differentiation: Discover some way to stand apart from your competition and the TruGreens of the world. By differentiating your company, you ensure that prospective customers will notice you and remember your company name. In the book, Purple Cow, Seth Godin talks about how companies need to become purple cows (unique companies) in today’s world in order to thrive. There are just too many normal, brown cows in the world for you to be noticed otherwise. Don’t forget to market this differentiation!
- Marketing: Too often, we've see busy lawn care company owners pushing marketing needs aside. Marketing is vital to the growth of your company and should take precedence when it comes to growth. January has just begun, which means it’s nearly time to start selling for the spring season. Have you developed a marketing plan for 2013 yet? A ship without a rudder cannot steer nor can a company without a growth plan. Spend some time developing your marketing plan now. Visit this blog entry to learn more.
- Organize your marketing database: Yes, the task may seem boring (I know it! I’ve done it) but organizing your database can be a simple way to grow your company. After all, what’s the point in developing an awesome marketing piece if you are sending it to the wrong people? Instead of developing a direct mail piece and shipping them out blindly across the land, send them out based on these points:
*Get a list of all the customers who have bought from you in the past 12 months. It’s easiest to sell additional services to people who know you, than to spend time gathering new customers who have never heard of your company before.
*Have you graded your region via the criteria for golden streets that we discussed above? If you have, good! Reach out to the people located in your golden streets and work your hardest to own the accounts of the entire neighborhood.
*Develope a list of your lapsed customers. These are people who may have canceled or stopped their services with you for some reason. It's often easier to win back these customers than to gain new ones. Furthermore, ask them what went wrong and you'll be able to solve their problems in your company, even the problems you didn't know where present.
There you have it. You can utilize the present circumstances in our industry to get creative and earn a killer profit all in one go. Want to learn more? Download this white paper by Barrett Ersek entitled 7.5 Secrets to Growing Your Lawn Care Company. I would also recommend subscribing to our blog or at least checking in with us to learn our weekly marketing tip. Keep growing!
*Does this blog sound familiar? Because so many of our readers found this blog insighful for creating annual markeitng plans, we've unearthed it from the Holganix catacombs to share it with you once more!
The Holganix Blog
Passion for Possibilities
At Holganix, one of our core values is having a passion for possibilities. We believe that by incorporating this attitude in all that we do, we are better able to find opportunities even when under difficult circumstances. For the team, whether or not it’s getting a last-minute order to a customer, creating new innovative technologies, or simply answering the phone, having a passion for possibilities is an ingrained value among the Holganix family.
This core value transcends through each department. What does having a passion for possibilities mean to the Team? Check out their responses below:
According to Barrett Ersek, CEO of Holganix, incorporating this core value into his life and business allows him to look at adversity and not say, “I can’t do this” but instead say, “How can I do this?”
On the other hand, for Logistics and Distribution Leader Mark Gatlos, having a passion for possibilities means, “Nothing is unachievable. At Holganix, you live this every day. Regardless of what is thrown at us, we get it done, always.”
To sales representative, Rob Tyndall, living with a passion for possibilities means, “Always looking to make yes the answer.”
For Dave Thompson, COO of Holganix, having a passion for possibilities carries over to both his business and personal life. “For me, having a passion for possibilities means that the sky is the limit. It’s a reminder to dream big and go for it!”
The Holganix Blog
Be Grateful - Connect Today - Grow Tomorrow
“At Holganix,” states Nicole Wise, Holganix Head of Marketing and the chief organizer for the Bionutritional Summit, “we firmly believe in building a community of Holganix users. The Bionutritional Summit is one way we are able to live by that value.” The Summit, which took place on October 23, 2013 at GIE+EXPO in Louisville, Kentucky, was a night of education, networking and growing. Nearly 200 representatives from green industry companies located throughout the USA and Canada made up the list of attendees. Former TruGreen Landcare marketing executive, Judith Guido, Holganix inventor, Stephen T. Lange, and Purdue University Professor, Dr. Cale A. Bigelow hosted three of the most popular seminars at the Summit. According to Tommy Cowett, Holganix user and CEO of GrowinGreen, “I really enjoyed the Holganix Bionutritional Summit! Mrs. Guido was a fantastic speaker, Stephen Lange blew my mind and I am currently reading up on soil pH in relation to microbes” (one of Cowett’s big takeaways from the Summit).
Upon reflecting on the success of the 2013 Bionutritional Summit, Holganix CEO Barrett Ersek reports that, “Seeing our community come together and being so supportive and enthusiastic and hungry for learning was one of the top 10 moments of my business career. After only two years of running this Summit and to have a following of roughly 200 people, truly humbles and inspires me. I am so grateful to our attendees and the rest of the team that helped make the Summit possible.” And this is only the beginning. Already, Nicole Wise is working on piecing together next year’s Bionutritional Summit. Her goal is to have 600 attendees while maximizing the value the Summit can provide for attendees. “It’s only day one!” reminds Ersek, stealing a line from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to describe the potential for future Bionutritional Summits. If today is only day one in the development and movement toward the use of bionutrition in the green industry, what will day two bring?
The Science Behind Holganix
Golf Course Industry Update 2013
There has been a dynamic shift in the industry. Scientists and superintendents are shifting their thinking on plant health from a chemistry perspective to a biological perspective. Treating turf no longer revolves around the quantities of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium that manufacturers can jam into a bag of fertilizer. Instead, superintendents are focusing on maximizing plant health by capitalizing on the soil environment and by building stronger, more vigorous plants that are better able to resist disease and insect damage. Dave Heegard, general manager of the professional products division for LebanonTurf, stated in an interview with Superintendent Magazine, “Plant nutrition programs that include bionutritional (a biological) products will soon become the norm rather than the exception” (Superintendent Magazine). In 2010, when asked in a Lebanon survey whether or not they used biologicals in their turf fertility program, superintendents answered that 51% utilized biologicals in some way (Lebanon Survey). “We expect that number has risen over the past three years,” states Barrett Ersek, CEO of Holganix, in regards to the Lebanon survey.
Although biologicals have been around for many years, there are three factors that have been propelling the biological movement forward. Economic factors, strict government legislation on turf fertility and insights into the benefits around biologicals and plant wellness has helped increase biological’s popularity.
Maximizing Economics on the Course
In light of the economic recession, Golf Courses have tightened their budgets and placed pressure on their superintendents to deliver superb results at aggressive costs. With the inconsistency revolved around synthetic pricing, superintendents have turned to biologicals to help treat the turf in an economically beneficial manner. Furthermore, bionutritional products (products that contain large amounts of biologicals) allow superintendents to reduce the amount of synthetics needed to get optimal results. According to Gary Myers, superintendent of Sagamore Golf Course, by including Holganix (a bionutritional turf and plant fertility product) into his golf program, “I have been receiving the same color and quality of turf despite reducing nitrogen by half.” That means superintendents like Myers are able to deliver superb results while being cost neutral.
Turf Fertility Legislation Is Trending
Furthermore, the rise of strict government regulations due in part from dire environmental issues caused from NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, nutrients found in fertilizers) run off has led superintendents to search for other means of fertility. The EPA specifically has called war upon NPK run off, which scientists claim have led to dead zones in America’s oceans, bays and lakes where marine creatures can no longer thrive. Already legislation has progressively become stricter in areas that feed into the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay (where two of the largest American deadzones exist). Over the past ten years, 11 states have completely banned phosphorous, while New Jersey has nearly eliminated the use of phosphorous and restricted use of nitrogen to 3.2 pounds per 1,000 square feet for lawn care professionals and homeowners (Although golf courses are exempt from the NJ law, the government is tightening its leash on golf course management as well). Bob Raley, agronomist of turgrass and ornamentals at Agrium Advanced Technology, said in a Superintendent Magazine interview that “states will continue to look into regulating turfgrass fertility… superintendents in some states are already seeing limited fertilizer choices because of increased regulations” (Superintendent Magazine).
Fostering Healthy Plants... Naturally
Lastly, the increase in plant health and the exceptional results seen by superintendents when utilizing biologicals have the golf course industry excited. According to Cory Troyer, superintendent of Otter Creek Golf Course, with Holganix (a biological), “Our turf color is great… We are seeing significant increase in root depth and an overall increase in plant health.” With biologicals, superintendents are helping to keep the soil food web in balance, ensuring that soil microorganisms are doing their job effectively and efficiently. Ultimately, biologicals contribute to a more robust ecosystem in and around the soil and plants, adding to overall plant health and often reducing the amount of pesticides needed to obtain satisfactory suppression of weeds, insects and diseases. According to The Sustainability Council, “They also help improve the soil structure and nutrient content over time.”
Holganix Case Studies
Terry's Super Fast Seed Germination Success!
“We should get a speeding ticket because we germinate seed so fast,” exclaimed Holganix sales representative Mike Reed as he proudly showed off his collection of pictures (see below) sent to him by Terry’s Lawn Service. When looking at the pictures, it’s easy to see why someone from the Holganix community would get excited about seed germination when teamed up with Holganix products.
Terry Shafer of Terry’s Lawn Service located in Morristown, Indiana put Holganix to the test on his own backyard. This past fall, Shafer completely renovated his 1.5 acre yard. He reseeded his turf with 90% TTTF and 10% Blue seed. Seven days after seeding, Shafter applied Holganix liquid at a rate of 10 ounces per 1,000 square feet. Twelve days later, the turf was progressing steadily and had filled in nicely. All in all, Shafer has been excited about using Holganix. According to Shafer, “I put [Holganix] into my program this spring on a majority of my lawns and have been very impressed and happy with the results I have seen thus far.”
Why did Terry and other lawn care professionals see amazing seed germination with Holganix? Holganix is filled with ingredients specifically designed to promote healthy turf growth and give your lawn a head start. For example, Mycorrhizae, a fungus found within Holganix, helps deliver nutrients and moisture to the plant and helps builds a dense, fibrous root system. Other ingredients, including humic and fulvic acids and Kelp extract, enhance and promote seed germination. Both Holganix liquid and Holganix granular products help deliver superb results when fostering plant health.
Twelve days after seeding:
Twenty-two days after seeding: