The Holganix Blog

6 Inspiring Lawn Care Marketing Resources

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Just because you're gearing up for a crazy spring season, doesn’t mean it’s time to slow down on marketing and selling your lawn care services. Don’t get off the marketing and sales hamster wheel just yet, or risk losing your momentum and compromising your growth opportunities.

Take 15 minutes each day to follow up with a lead, write a social media post, mail a post card or send out an email newsletter.

Has operations chaos sapped you of all creative juices? Check out the list of resources below on marketing and sales for busy LAWNtrepreneurs. 

 

Holganix Launch Box

The Holganix Launch Box is filled with tools to help you start marketing your use of Holganix. It’s an excellent resource to cheat on your marketing and sales initiatives and to R&D (rip off and duplicate) from marketing tools Holganix has already created for you. Tools include but aren’t limited to social media posts, customer letters, blogs and email blasts, all on Holganix.

>>Download the Holganix Launch Box

 

Branding Your Lawn Care Company

Get inspired by this Holganix webinar featuring Linda Thomas, The Director of Marketing at Real Green Systems. According to Linda, branding is more than just a logo. Watch the webinar to establish what BRANDING really means and what you can do to establish a successful brand for your lawn care company. 

Reading this blog via email, click here to access the video.

  

How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

In a world where consumers are faced with too many options, it’s easy to ignore the ordinary and boring. Instead, Seth Godin urges marketers and entrepreneurs to build products, services and campaigns that are Remarkable. The term “remarkable” means it’s worth making a remark about. Remarkable products, services and campaigns are inspiring and crazy, and certainly not boring.

Watch Seth Godin’s TED Talk entitled, How to get your ideas to spread for remarkable marketing inspiration. Reading this blog via email, click here to access the video.

  

4 Minutes of Focused Spring Marketing Tips

Holganix CEO and Founder, Barrett Ersek is a former lawn care company owner. In the below 4-minute video, Barrett compiles his favorite lessons on spring marketing from his 20+ years of experience on building, running and selling lawn care companies. Hint, getting customers from marketing initiatives doesn’t ALWAYS mean selecting the cheapest tool in your marketing arsenal. 

Reading this blog via email, click here to access the video.

 

Social Media Tips for Lawn Care Companies

Social media is a tough nut to crack. However, utilizing social media in lawn care enables you to build relationships with customers, creating a more loyal fan base. Furthermore, you can tap into your customers’ friends or followers and maintain an up-to-date flow of information about the goings-on in your company including coupons and sales.

This short blog will discuss how to jump on the social media bandwagon with tips specific to the lawn and landscape industry.

>>Read the social media blog article

 

Your Elusive, Creative Genius

For those of you stuck in a creative rut, here's a TED Talk that is sure to inspire your inner creative genius. Elizabeth Gilbert of famed Eat, Pray, Love explores the art of creativity and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. 

Reading this blog via email, click here to access the video.

Tags: marketing hints and tips, lawn care marketing

Top 5 Benefits Of Regenerative Agriculture [INFOGRAPHIC]

Regenerative_Agriculture_benefits

In 1938, Dr. Charles Kellogg, soil scientist and then Chief of the USDA’s Bureau for Chemistry and Soils stated that “Essentially, all life depends upon the soil… There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.”

100 years later and that quote still remains prevalent to the way we think of agriculture. As new scientific studies are published supporting the benefits of soil health, topics like regenerative agriculture have gained popularity. Once thought of a system for niché farmers, regenerative agriculture is gaining major headway within the agriculture community as a way to improve soil health, while being good stewards to the earth.


What Is Regenerative Agriculture?

So, what is regenerative agriculture? Regenerative agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that focus on regenerating topsoil, allowing farmers to maintain crop yields, improve water retention and plant uptake, increase farm profitability, and support biosequestration, among other benefits.

The backbone of regenerative agriculture is a focus on strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil. The key is that regenerative agriculture “does no harm” to the land, and in fact improves it, using technologies to build soil health like compost, recycling waste, limited-to-no-tillage, among other practices.

According to a paper by the Washington State University, “there are multiple versions of [regenerative agriculture], each with a different flavor.” For example, The Rodale Institute promotes a strictly organic version and even has certifying programs to guide farmers and buyers. While, farmer and TEDx speaker, Gabe Brown champions a form of regenerative agriculture that doesn’t restrict the need to go fully organic.


Top 5 Benefits Of Regenerative Agriculture

Check out our infographic below for the top 5 benefits of regenerative agriculture, or skip the infographic and keep on scrolling to read it in article form - the old fashioned way.

Regenerative_Agriculture_Infographic


#1 Regenerative Agriculture Is Focused On Increasing Soil Health

No matter the variation in regenerative agricultural practices, all focus on increasing soil health. According to the Regeneration International, a non-profit organization with the goal for a global transition to regenerate agriculture and land management, “Regenerative agriculture describes farming and organic practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity…”  By focusing on building soil health, you can optimize their yield results and crop health naturally.


#2 Maintaining Crop Yields Is A No Brainer?

No conversation around switching regenerative agricultural practices would be complete without addressing yield. According to the Nature Conservancy Organization, regenerative agricultural practices “reduce the risk of yield loss due to stressors, and can bring about a material increase in crop yields and quality.” Other reports from the Rodale Institute shows that yields can be maintained and at times increased (See benefit #3).

We should be open to exploring whether or not we can maintain crop yields with regenerative agricultural practices and there is no better way to get proof than by trying it on a portion of your own farm.  

>>Check out the Nature Conservancy's report on Regenerative Agriculture


#3 Growing More Resilient Crops

According to the Rodale Institute, yields “under organic systems are likely to be more resilient to extreme weather… in the long-running Farming System Trial, in drought years, yields were consistently higher in the organic system. For instance, organic corn yields were 28-to-34% higher than conventional.” In general, having resilient crops comes back to the soil and increasing soil biodiversity. By ensuring your soils are healthy and teeming with beneficial soil microbes, you can naturally displace and suppress disease.


#4 Improved Farm Profitability

According to several reports, switching to regenerative agriculture can actually increase your farm’s profitability. For example, according to Farmland LP, a fund that invests in converting conventional farmland to regenerative, organic farming, they have seen gross margins around 40-to-50% on wine grapes and single-digit improvements on commodity crops. In another example, researchers Claire LaCanne and Dr. Jonathan Lundgren note that regenerative agriculture grown corn reaped 78% higher profits than conventional corn production systems. And, according to General Mills, it builds farmer economic resilience. They state that “regenerative agricultural practices can reduce the need for expensive chemical inputs.”

There’s a lot of discussion on the importance of focusing on improved farm profitability when converting a farm to regenerative agriculture, and the research on it is variable, yet promising.  


#5 Regenerative Agriculture As A Solution To Climate Change.

In a white paper titled “Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change”, the Rodale Institute states that “we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term 'regenerative organic agriculture.'”  That’s a tall order! But, it is one the Rodale Institute has been working with researchers to prove for the past three decades.

>>Check out the Rodale Institute’s white paper for information on their climate change data


How Do Regenerative Agriculture and Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture Fit Together?

Regenerative agricultural practices like composting, cover crops and no-to-low-till, leave food sources for soil microbes in the soil. By providing food sources for microbes, regenerative agriculture strengthens the soil microbes.

Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture harnesses the power of over 800 species of soil microbes to recharge soils, that ultimately leads to improved yield, root growth, and crop resilience against stress.

When you combine regenerative agriculture practices that provide microbe food sources, and the diverse consortium of microbes in Holganix Bio 800+, results from both can increase.

Learn more about Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture by watching our short 8.5-minute video on our university and commercial grower trials.

 

 

 

Dig Deeper Into Soil; Download Our Soil Science eBook

Digging Soil Science 101: Beginners Guide to Understanding the Soil Food Web

We know regenerative agriculture and long-term sustainability of farmland hinges on the health of soils. But, how do soils work? And, what does healthy soil look like? Dig deeper into soil science with by downloading our FREE eBook by Holganix Director of Soil and Plant Science, Dr. Robert Neidermyer.

Download our eBook to explore:

1. How the soil food web supports healthy crops

2. The power behind soil microbes and what they do to build resilient crops

3. Soil types and how to improve the health of your soil

soil food web

Tags: science behind holganix, farmer

Holganix Case Study: Allentuck Landscaping Reports Improved Plant Resilience, Soil Health and Roots

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Award-winning, Allentuck Landscaping focuses on serving residential customers in the Clarksburg, Maryland market. Over the past three years, Allentuck Landscaping has been using Holganix Bio 800+ Tree and Shrub to service their plant health care customers.

Holganix Bio 800+ Tree and Shrub is an organic plant probiotic that harnesses the power of soil microbes to increase soil and plant health while reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides.

According to CEO and Founder, Bruce Allentuck, “I believe in Holganix… it has been a great tool for our tree and shrub service”. In this blog, we sit down and interview Bruce Allentuck about how he runs his business and why he chose Holganix.


Why Did You Start Allentuck Landscaping?

I grew up in an entrepreneurial household, my dad had his own business, and I always knew I would start a business at some point in my life. Back in high school, my friend and I started a little company doing odd jobs, many of those jobs were in the landscaping space. We shut down our company in college, but that experience encouraged me to pursue a degree in landscape design and horticulture.

I started Allentuck Landscaping in 1986, shortly after getting my degree. We serve residential customers and offer design-build and landscape management services.


What Makes Allentuck Landscaping Unique?

The biggest thing that makes Allentuck Landscaping unique is our laser focus on customer experience. I look at companies with great customer experience, like Marriott and Starbucks for ideas on how to continually improve the way we communicate and serve our clients. I try to express this feeling of genuine warmth and care to our clients. When they do business with us, I want our clients to feel like they are calling a customer service business that just so happens to be in landscaping.

For us, good customer experience means truly knowing the individual client. We can standardize practices, but every client is different and it is important that we tailor our services and communication style directly to that client’s needs. It really comes down to empowering our account managers with the authority to make customer experience decisions.

One way we tailor services is through notices on our services. For example, some of our clients want to get noticed on every detailed service we do on their property, while others don’t. We understand the level of granular communication the client needs, and then we make sure we deliver on it.


Why Did You Start Using Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub?

We started using the product about three years ago. The first year we did a lot of testing, but it has been actively used on properties over the past two years.

I’m always looking for ways to make Allentuck Landscaping more sustainable and I liked that Holganix Bio 800+ Tree and Shrub helped us not only reach sustainability goals but agronomic ones too. Specifically, I like that Holganix Bio 800+ Tree and Shrub focuses on promoting root growth and soil health. When you have healthy roots and soil you can really keep a lot of stress problems like pathogens in check.


What Results Have You Seen With Holganix Bio 800+ Tree and Shrub?

On our client properties, the biggest and most important benefit has been reduced disease pressure because we are creating healthier soil and roots. It also means we’ve been able to reduce a lot of our inputs, especially pesticides and fungicides, without sacrificing results.

In addition to our client properties, we use the product at our “farm” - the nickname for our office. It’s a large property with vegetable gardens. Those vegetable gardens allow us to really dig into some of the results with Holganix Bio 800+ Tree and Shrub because we see them every day, and we can do things like dig up roots that we can’t do on client properties. With the vegetables, we have seen a really good root system, and overall healthier looking crops with less stress from the disease.


What Do Your Customers And Technicians Think Of The Product?

The feedback we get from our clients has been positive and our technicians like that the product is easier to apply and tank mix compared to other inputs.

Want to learn more about Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub? Download Our Key Ingredient List!

Holganix Bio 800+ Tree & Shrub is filled to the brim with beneficial soil microbes, microbe food, and nutrient enhancers to build HEALTHIER plants that need less fertilizer and pesticides.

What's in the Holganix Bio 800+ jug?  Check out our ingredient list!

Tags: lawn care, holganix reviews, holganix review

Holganix Case Study: "The Turnips Have Large Roots & The Yield Is Amazing!"

soil health

“As a consulting arborist, farm technical assistance provider, and a distributor, I see the Holganix family of products used in a wide variety of applications with great success,” explains Lee McBride of Landscape Management Consultants (Ag Products), a crop consultant working with Holganix in Alabama.

Recently, Lee used Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture at planting on their turnip crop. However, due to previous experience, he decided to use Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture as a stand-alone product, without using any fertilizers or pesticides.

“I’m a better salesperson when I have the courage of conviction in a service or a product, thus I was intrigued about how the product could perform by itself,” notes Lee.

Overall, “the turnips had large roots and the yield was amazing.” Also, because Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture builds healthier soil and stronger plants, Lee saw a surprising lack of insect feeding damage.

The picture above is of second growth, after harvesting the week prior. “We would normally expect weaker plants with more damage at this time, but we noticed only a mildly reduced yield. The plants were still strong,” explains Lee.

“With the mild winter thus far here in north Alabama, we are still harvesting roots and tops.”

 

Applications & Details Involving The Turnips

On September 22, 2018, Lee planted purple top and seven top turnips. The beds had been made last May but hadn’t yet been used. One week prior to planting, Lee tilled the soil in the beds twice. The soil tested at a pH of 6.3 and no fertilizer had been applied prior to, during or after planting the turnips. The bed does have drip irrigation, so the plants were watered throughout.

Lee made an application of Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture the day after planting, using the rate of 1.5 gallons per acre. This worked out to 2 oz on 360 square feet of bed area in three gallons of water.

On October 24, the turnip leaves were harvested yielding 60+ pounds.

The picture below was taken on October 31, just before the second leaf harvest which was also an incredible 60+ pounds.  

turnip_soil 

 

About Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture

Why use Holganix-587110-edited-1

Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture contains over 800 species of beneficial soil microbes that promote growth in crop foliage and roots, convert and release nutrients in the soil and promote the crops’ tolerance to stress like weather and disease.

What's in the Holganix Bio 800+ jug?  Check out our ingredient list! 

 

Want To Learn More About Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture?

If you are looking to dig deeper into the results behind Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture, be sure to check out this blog which goes into detail on several university and commercial grower trials. Or, feel free to reach out to Holganix directly by emailing David Stark P.h.D., the President of Agriculture, at dstark@holganix.com.

Tags: holganix reviews, agriculture, holganix review, farmer

3 Tools to Make 2019 A Successful Year in Lawn Care

lawn and landscape company

Don’t wait until the spring lawn care season to think about your 2019 marketing and sales strategy. Take advantage of the preseason lull in sales to strategize and map out your plan for successful growth this upcoming year.

Utilize these three FREE marketing tools to ensure you are ready for 2019.

 

1. Holganix Launch In A Box

If you are looking to plan campaigns to educate prospects and customers about Holganix and soil health, look no further than the Holganix Launch In A Box. This tool contains 12 “Stealable” tools for you to incorporate into your 2017 marketing campaigns.

What are some of the tools provided? Some of our favorite tools include three articles to use in your blog and/or email newsletter, postcard designs, social media posts and website content. All materials are 100% stealable.

>>Download your Holganix Launch In A Box here

 

2. Webinar: Marketing to the "Whole Foods" Consumer

Organic isn't a fad - in fact, according to the Organic Trade Associate (OTA) 82% of U.S. households buy organic with millennials representing the largest group of organic buyers in America. That may not seem like a large number to you, but consider that today 25% of millennials have families and that in 10-to-15 years, that number is expected to increase to 80%. Can you consider how these new families will affect the consumer market - whether it's groceries, cleaning products or lawn care, buying organic matters to the millennial consumer.  

Check out our webinar recording on how to market to the "Whole Foods" Consumer and take advantage of the growing organic trend. 

>>Watch for the webinar

 

3. Ebook: How to GROW Your Business with Tree and Shrub Services

Consider growing your business by offering tree and shrub services to current customers. Did you know that you could expect 10-to-30% of your current customers to sign up for tree and shrub applications Not to mention the fact that adding an additional revenue source to current customers means boosting profit margin. It's like new found money! 

Your current customers are your low hanging fruit. Think about it. Your customers already know and trust your brand; they also care deeply for their landscapes or they wouldn't be paying for lawn fertilization to begin with.

Download this book to learn explore: 

1. How to market your tree and shrub business to current customers

2. How to price out tree and shrub applications

3. What materials you will need to get started!

>>Download the ebook

Tags: lawn care, marketing hints and tips

[PODCAST] Holganix & Van Trump Agriculture Team

Van Trump Podcast

Check out the below podcast featuring a conversation with ag-influencers, Kevin and Jordan Van Trump of the Van Trump Report, and Holganix CEO and Founder Barrett Ersek. Together, Kevin, Jordan and Barrett discuss our ongoing joint-efforts to expand our agriculture footprint in the mid-west by taping influential farmers.

 

Listen to the Podcast by Farm Tank

Click to watch the podcast.

farm tank podcast link

 

Watch Van Trumps’ Video

Check out this one-minute video the Van Trump Team put together to discuss the Holganix/Van Trump opportunity. If you are reading this blog via email, click here to watch the video. 

 

Want to learn more about Holganix Bio 800 Agriculture?

Attend Our Upcoming Webinar on February 7 @ 30:00 EST! 

For growers using Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture, an increase in yield and soil health has led to an increase ROI on crops

For example, a Missouri researcher shows a 21.1 bushel increase with Holganix Agriculture and reports that his Holganix corn plots are "the best looking corn plots on the farm." For a California researcher, his strawberry crop saw more and larger strawberries providing a ~$3,000 per acre net revenue increase. 

This webinar will provide an overview of our trials and the Holganix Bio 800+ Agriculture product.

 

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO LEARN?

  • Product Overview: Learn about Holganix Agriculture and how it functions.

  • Results From The Field: Dave Stark, PhD takes us through Holganix's university and commercial grower trials.

  • Use and Application Directions: Review basic use and application directions for several crop types.

Register: February 7 @ 2:00 CDT/ 3:00 EDT

 

What The Best Lawn Care Pros Do (And You Should Too!)

lawn care company

One of the biggest advantages of working at Holganix is that you have the opportunity to learn from hundreds of lawn care companies and take note of best practices in the industry. That's why we have curated 4.5 tips based on how some of the best lawn care pros run their businesses.

If you have a suggestion for another tip that you see missing, be sure to include it in the comments of this blog.


Calibrate Your Equipment

Often, as lawn care companies get busy they forget to calibrate their equipment. The risk of not calibrating is that you may use either too much or too little product, that also means the results you are providing for customers can be at risk. Start off the season right by calibrating your equipment and be sure to continue calibrating each week. 

Don’t know how to calibrate your equipment? Don’t sweat it, we have a blog and video that will walk you through equipment calibration step by step.

>>Click to access calibration instructions


Make A Plan, Then Adjust

Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin once stated, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” If you want to grow your business this year, be sure to spend time planning out your marketing and sales strategy. But, also be okay with checking in on your goal, and adjusting it higher or lower as the year progresses.

>>Looking for tips on growing your business, check out this blog and video from Holganix CEO & Founder, Barrett Ersek on his top tips for growing a lawn care company.

Aside from planning your business growth, it is important to plan out your yearly fertilizer plan so you are organized on your rounds and have products in hand. Also, understand that Mother Nature throws curve balls and that your plan may need to be adjusted based on weather. We suggest proactively planning for weather problems by building a 1-to-2 week buffer between rounds, giving you ample time to catch up if you fall behind schedule.

Looking for tips on planning your lawn fertilization program? Consider checking out Holganix’s Soil Smart Program which includes a recommended fertilizer program for your specific region.

>>Download Your Soil Smart Program


Scheduling And Organizing Routes

Inefficient routing can lead to reduced profits. Keeping routes tightly grouped together means your technicians spend more time servicing customers and less time driving from neighborhood-to-neighborhood, ultimately spending excess money on labor and fuel.

Consider utilizing software like Real Green System’s Routing Assistant to maximize your routes.

Also, consider ranking your neighborhoods so you and your team understand where your VIP customers live. When scheduling gets difficult, organize your routes so your VIP customers are serviced ahead of your B or C customers.

>>Want to learn more about this customer ranking concept? Check out this blog on a process called Golden Street Approach.


Research New Technology & Trends

To make sure you are providing the best possible results for your homeowners, and doing so in a way that is efficient for your business and your piggy bank, stay abreast of new technology and trends in the industry.

How do you stay in the loop on new technology and trends? Consider subscribing to an industry magazine, finding blogs (like this one!) that offers quality content, and attending trade shows and conferences. Also, consider stepping outside of our industry bubble and subscribing to magazines or newsletters like Fortune, Inc, and Entrepreneur to keep you in the loop on macro trends in the U.S. You never know when inspiration for your business will strike.

Speaking of trends and new technology, here are some of the trends we are following.

Soil Health - This is an increasingly big trend in the food and agriculture industry that we suspect will (and is!) trickling down to the landscape industry.

Transparency - This is a trend affecting nearly all industries with thanks to the Millenial and Gen Z generations. Consider, how can you increase transparency at your lawn care company in order to best serve these new generations.

Microbes - The food and agriculture industry is going crazy for microbes. Indigo Ag raised more than $650M to fund their business which has a focus on microbe technology, among other products. You can expect that harnessing microbes to care for turf will start to become big news. Check out this webinar for information on the results your company can expect by harness Holganix microbial product - Bio 800+ Lawn.



This Too Shall Pass

When spring hits and the dandelions pop, your phone will be ringing off the hook with customers requesting extra service calls or just looking to complain. Understand that this too shall pass. If you have 300 customers, and 30 complaints, that means you have 270 happy customers! Don’t let the complaints drive you crazy, stay positive and do the very best you can.   


Want to Access Free Marketing Tools To Grow Your Business?

New to the Holganix community? Or, just looking to add Holganix to your marketing strategy? Great! This marketing box is for you.

he Holganix launch box includes content that helps you communicate why your lawn and landscape company is special for using Holganix. 

WHAT IS IN THE BOX?

1. Swipe our free brochure that talks about the benefits of Holganix from a homeowners' perspective

2. Poach website copy that talks about Holganix

3. Loot blogs that are written specifically with the homeowner in mind

4. Ransack designs for postcards, yard signs, and door hangers

5. Pirate social media posts

6. Steal a letter designed to announce Holganix to current customers

New call-to-action

Tags: lawn care, marketing hints and tips

8 Incredible TED Talks On Sustainable Agriculture

TED TALK SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

Sustainable agriculture, soil health, and ag-tech have been hot topics regardless of whether you are a farmer, landscaper, grounds manager or homeowner. These are important conversations that impact the environment and food security. That’s why we have curated these 8 Incredible TED Talks On Sustainable Agriculture. Topics include but are not limited to, microbes, plant communication, mushrooms, and the space age!


A Forgotten Space Age Technology Could Change How We Grow Food

 

 

 

Sustainability researcher, Lisa Dyson discusses how abandoned NASA programs from the 1960s could revolutionize modern agriculture. NASA researchers were able to manufacture protein-rich products using hydrogenotrophic microbes - known as “Carbon recyclers”. These same microbes could be a potential solution for modern food demands.

Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.

 

Regeneration Of Our Lands: A Producer’s Perspective

 

 

The health of our soil resource has declined to such a point that it is not only negatively affecting farm and ranch profitability, but it is also having a devastating impact on everything from our water quality to our communities and even to our health.

In the above video, North Dakota rancher Gabe Brown walks us through a common sense solution to this crisis.

Gabe Brown is a pioneer in the soil health movement. Gabe and his family, own and operate a diversified 5,000-acre farm and ranch near Bismarck, ND. Their operation focuses on farming and ranching in nature’s image.

Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.


Soil – From Dirt To Lifetime

 

 

Did you know there are more living organisms beneath the soil then there are above it? Soil scientists can’t even come to an agreement about how many microbes are actually in the soil. In this TED Talk, Fred Kirschenmann, a pioneer in sustainable agriculture, explores the power of soil and the history of soil.

Fred has been involved in sustainable agriculture and food issues for most of his life. He serves as both a Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and as President of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. He also manages his 2,600-acre organic family farm in North Dakota. 

Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.

 

Electrical Experiments With Plants That Count And Communicate

 

 

Neuroscientist Greg Gage takes equipment used to study the brain and attaches it to the Mimosa Publica (a plant whose leaves close when touched) and the Venus Flytrap. His goal? To demonstrate how plants use electrical signals to convert information, move and even count. Watch Gage’s TED Talk for his demonstration and explanation on how plants count and communicate. 

Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.

 

One Seed At A Time, Protecting The Future Of Food

 

 

Diversity within crops is a genetic resource that is crucial to the future of agriculture, and that diversity is crumbling. For example, in the 1800s U.S. farmers and gardeners were growing 7,100 varieties of apples and today just 300 exist. 

Biologist Cary Fowler banned together with the world’s scientists, organizations and governments to preserve samples of seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Bank located in Norway. At the time of the TED Talk, their seed bank held 425,000 unique crop varieties.

Watch Fowler’s video to learn more about why diversity is crucial to agriculture and how they are protecting the world’s crop varieties. Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.

 

Mark Jackson: A Personal Story About Farming And The Future Of Agriculture

 

 

Five generations ago, Mark Jackson’s great-great-great-grandfather purchased a plot of land in Iowa and the Jackson family has been farming it ever since. In this narrative, Mark describes the changes that have happened in agriculture over the past generations and how some things have stayed exactly the same. Mark’s story illustrates the power of sustainable farming from a farmer’s perspective.

Mark is a fifth generation Iowa farmer who practices sustainable production and environmental responsibility in his modern family farming operations. He was one of the original farmers who pioneered sustainable soybean farming with Unilever.

Watch the video above to learn more about his story and sustainable agriculture. Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.



6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save The World

 

 

Paul Stamets, a mycologist, dives deep into the soil to explore the power of mushrooms and offers 6 solutions on how mushrooms - specifically fungal mycelium can save the world. Mycelium is a threadlike hyphae portion of fungi that contribute to soil health and can deliver nutrients to plants. In a single cubic inch of soil, there are more than 8 miles of mycelium.

Reading this blog via email? Click here to watch the video.


Dig In Deeper to Soil Health: Download Our Soil Science eBook

Within the natural world, there exists a complex balance among living organisms known as the soil food web. Plants, animals and microorganisms are all instruments in an orchestra; each plays a crucial part in the natural symphony of life. If even one of the players is out of tune, the whole soil food web suffers. However, when everything is in order, the results are beautiful

Download this book to explore:

1. How the soil food web supports healthy plant

2. The power behind soil microorganisms

3. Soil types and how to improve the health of your soil

soil food web

Soil Testing: How Do You Do It AND Why?

Soil test

When was the last time you took soil tests at your property? Are your plants looking a little worn out? Are your turf and plants not taking to fertilizer applications?

Soil tests provide the key soil health metrics you need to better prescribe a fertility program for your property.

On a basic level, soil tests indicate nutrient deficiencies and pH levels. However, more advanced soil tests are available that also indicate Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), soluble salts and other important soil health metrics.

What is each of the soil health metrics you can expect from a soil test, what do they mean and what practices can you put in place to improve results?

 

Measuring key elements to plant growth

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, “There are at least 17 essential elements required for plant growth: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, molybdenum, chlorine and nickel.”

While elements like hydrogen, carbon and oxygen are taken from air and water, the remaining elements are derived from the soil. When the soil is lacking in a key element, adding a fertilizer is key.

The three most important nutrients for plant growth include: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

1. Nitrogen is responsible for stimulating strong plant growth and promoting green coloring of foliage (it helps with chlorophyll production). Nitrogen is often present in the soil; however, it may be locked in a form that isn’t utilized by the plant. Adding a fertilizer containing nitrogen will directly supply the nutrient to the plant. You could also add a probiotic containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria that will unlock nitrogen already present in the soil, making them available to the plant.

2. Phosphorus is responsible for assisting with the growth of roots and flowers. It also helps plants withstand environmental stress and harsh winters. Just like with nitrogen, phosphorus is often contained in the soil but may be locked in a form the plant can’t use. Adding a fertilizer containing phosphorus or adding a probiotic containing phosphorus-solubilizing bacteria can increase the supply of available phosphorus.

3. Potassium strengthens plants, contributes to early growth and helps retain water. It also affects the plant’s disease and insect suppression. Adding a fertilizer containing potassium will offset any imbalances in the soil.

>>For information on the six essential nutrients for plant health, read our blog here.

 

Looking at soil pH

Soil pH is a measure of soil acidity. A pH of 7 is neutral; anything below a 7 is acidic and anything above is alkaline.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, “A soil pH is an important chemical property because it affects the availability of nutrients to plants and the activity of microorganisms in the soil.”

On average, most plants prefer a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 and most turf grasses prefer a pH of 5.5 and 6.5. However, pH can differ depending on the plant and turf grass you are growing.

Adding a lime is one common practice to raise the soil pH. Tools that lower pH include but are not limited to: sulfur, iron sulfate, aluminum sulfate, acid sphagnum peat and ammonium sulfate/urea.

 

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.

To increase CEC levels, adding a product with high microbial populations will stimulate the digestion of organic matter, increasing humus levels, which thereby increases CEC levels.

>>Dig deeper into Cation Exchange Capacity and how Holganix boosts CEC levels

 

Soluble salts

Soluble salts are the ions that are dissolved in soil water.

Why are soluble salts important? “High soluble salts can reduce water uptake by plants, restrict root growth, cause burning of the foliage, inhibit flowering, and limit fruit and vegetable yields.” 

Some soils naturally have high soluble salts, however human practices like over fertilizing, pet urine, or using snow salts on sidewalks/streets can all increase soluble salt levels.

To correct soluble salt problems, look at incorporating gypsum and leaching the soil with good quality water.

 

How and where do you conduct soil tests?

Results from soil tests often take a couple weeks and possibly a couple months depending on the test. Most university extensions offer soil testing.

Utilize a sampling tube and take several samples at each location of your property. Look at taking 3-inch to 6-inch deep soil samples. Remember to label each tube with the location from your property from which it was taken.

 

soil food web

Tags: lawn care, the science behind holganix, sports turf, golf course, agriculture

Holganix Case Study: Reducing Sod Harvest Time By 40%

lakeside sod

When I sat down with Mike Braddell, Farm Operations Manager at Lakeside Sod Supply Co in Buffalo, New York, he proceeded to tell me about how Holganix Bio 800+ Lawn has helped him produce a better sod crop and reach harvest more quickly, all while improving his soil health. Mike has been using the product for the past three years on his Bentgrass and Bluegrass. His company also distributes the product to local lawn and landscape companies in the Buffalo region.

Below is a summary of his results while using Holganix Bio 800+ Lawn. For a full description of his results, watch the 27-minute video at the bottom featuring a conversation between Mike, Holganix Sales Manager, Rob McCoy and Holganix Director of Plant and Soil Science, Dr. Robert Neidermyer.


Reducing harvest time by an average of 44%

Lakeside Sod Supply Co reports a 43% reduction in the time to harvest on bentgrass and a 45% reduction in the time to harvest on Bluegrass. On the bentgrass, they applied Holganix Bio 800+ Lawn at 10 ounces per 1,000 square feet 3 times throughout the growing season, starting with seeding. On Bluegrass, four applications were made, also starting with seeding.

“Like most sod farms, there comes a time when you need to push your sod to get to harvest faster,” explains Mike. He originally started looking at Holganix products to (1) increase the harvest time and (2) build their soil health to invest in the long-term health of the farm.

Recently, Mike had the opportunity to push his harvest goals to the maximum due to surprise orders placed by two golf courses. “We planted the bentgrass that they needed labor day weekend and by the following April we were harvesting. It was because of the Holganix Bio 800+ Lawn that we were able to harvest faster.”


Using Holganix Bio 800+ Lawn at Seeding

“We apply Holganix Bio 800+ Lawn at 10 ounces per 1,000 square feet at seeding,” explains Mike. “We do get better germination and more consistent germination. It’s not that the speed of germination jumps out of the ground, but it is more uninformed and helps the turf start out right.”   

 

Reducing Fungicides and Herbicides

“I pull back on our herbicides especially on my bentgrass and I still get really good results,” reports Mike. “I also have some reduction in our fungicides on both turf types and we are seeing really good results with rust and dollar spot.”


Dig in Deeper; Watch The Video

To learn more about Mike’s Holganix experience, including information on his fertilizer program, watch the 27-minute video interview below. It also includes scientific explanations of each result by Holganix Director of Plant and Soil Science, Dr. Robert Neidermyer. If you are reading this blog via email, click here to access the video.

 

soil food web

Tags: reviews, holganix reviews, holganix review