Last Updated on September 2, 2022 by Brian Beck
Ever see that commercial about the oil filter that had the tag line, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later”? The traditional means of managing turf sometimes have people at odds with their lawn, particularly if it is problematic. Switching from a synthetic system to a biological we have discovered a few things that result in a world of difference in how you manage your lawn. In the synthetic system most of the cost comes on the back end of the effort, often unseen but certainly felt in the pocket book. In the biological system because we are attempting to reestablish the biology in the soil most of the expense comes on the front end as our soils are largely devoid of life, let me explain. In a healthy lawn there should be a relationship between the plant and the soil, as a matter of fact these should be viewed as one mechanism. The microbiology in the soil helps to protect and feed the plant that is growing and they share a symbiotic relationship serving one unified purpose which is to thrive. In synthetic system this process is disrupted or completely eliminated, making the plant dependent on human inputs. This is another way to say that it will not perform unless you get out with the bag of cheap fertilizer and apply it as there is not mechanism to get these nutrients form the soil anymore.
Most of the things you associate as “normal” activity in the process of maintaining a lawn are actually problems directly associated with a dysfunctional soil. Recognize any of these?
- Having to run the irrigation system every other day to keep the lawn hydrated. This is caused by several issues, compacted soil (caused by a lack of fungi in the soil which naturally aerate the soil), thick thatch (a lack of microbial activity), soil composition (clay), lack of organic material in the soil (inability to hold water, water carrying capacity) and shallow watering (most of this evaporates on the surface not getting to the roots)
- Continual presence of weeds. The presence of weeds should be viewed as a nutritional imbalance in the soil. Every plant contributes or serves a function in the soil. Once this is recognize you can eliminate the vast amount of weeds by just addressing the needs of the soil.
- Mechanically aerating the soil. A healthy soil will be naturally porous, allowing air water and nutrients in as the presence of healthy fungal populations in the soil form aggregates in the soil by their production of glomalin, a natural glue which binds soil and nutrients in the soil taking on a cottage chees appearance that allows the soil to have micro fissures that allow air, water and nutrients in the soil.
- Power raking thick thatch (anything over 1/2″). This is another failure in the soil and will seriously impede water from getting intro the soil and can promote lawn disease (necrotic ring) if watered to much as the lawn will eventually go anaerobic which will trigger this pathogen in the soil. This can be controlled very easily without mechanical intrusion.
Here are the three major things you can achieve, once you cease the use of synthetic fertilizers:
- Increase the microbiology in the soil by increasing Carbon in the soil. (needs to be at least 5%)
- Increasing Water Carrying capacity (for every 1% increased you can Double water carrying capacity)
- Enable the soil to use atmospheric nitrogen, FREE FERTILIZER (There are over 32K tons of it above every acre on Earth) if you have a certain Bacteria in your soil it will enable your grass to use it.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The end result is a lawn that greens up earlier, stays green longer, uses less water, fertilizer (natural), requires less work and gives you more joy. This is the biological system. The price that you are paying is hidden but you are still paying it. Wouldn’t you rather put your energy into a system that uses less energy and resources?