April 25 (Reuters) – Heavy use of the world’s most popular herbicide, Roundup, could be linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers, according to a new study. Click for More . . .
Archive for the ‘Organic Approach’ Category
A recently release federal study day attributes the massive die-off in American honey bee colonies to a combination of factors, including pesticides, poor diet, parasites and a lack of genetic diversity. The problems affect pollination of American agricultural products worth tens of billions of dollars a year. Click for more . . .
It’s not too soon to start over-seeding. In fact if you’re looking to over-seed with Kentucky Bluegrass now is a great time to get started. Kentucky Bluegrass can take up to 28 days to germinate so seeding now will allow sufficient time for it to get established.
There are a couple of options for approaches to over-seeding: seed slice or aerate. I favor aerating and broadcasting the seed at a slightly higher rate. This is especially effective if you top-dress with some pelleted compost after. While seed slicing helps ensure seed to soil contact, aerating and broadcasting seed are significant time savers that far outweigh the cost of the additional seed you may put down.
If you aerate it is also a great time to fertilizer and lime to take advantage of getting much of the material immediately down in the root zone.
Imagine two boxes of soil each weighing 100 pounds. The first box contains a soil that is 2% organic matter and the second box contains a soil that is 4.5% organic matter. The boxes are completely air-dried. How much water could we pour in each of the boxes before the water would run out? A test showed that approximately 45 pounds of water could be added to the 2% organic matter soil box, but almost 150 pounds of water could be added to the 4.5% organic matter soil box before the water started to run out. It is important to realize that the relationship of the water holding capacity to organic matter content is not linear but logarithmic. A small increase in organic matter can have a huge increase in water-holding capacity, as well as an increase in the nutrient holding capacity.
from The Art of Balancing Soil Nutrients by William McKibben
Here are some good tips from UMass –
Responsible irrigation is the rule. This is a great time to assess the performance of irrigation systems, as the turf will quickly tell the story of any issues with coverage or output. When circumstances permit, however, dormancy of well-established and otherwise healthy turf can lead to savings of time, labor and management resources if approached properly. If dormancy is allowable, remember these important points for managing dormant turf:
• If you opt for dormancy, commit to it. Avoid irrigation unless adequate and consistent evapotranspiration (ET) replacement can be achieved. Irregular and insufficient irrigation during dormancy can actually further deplete valuable carbohydrate reserves and negatively impact later recovery. If dormancy persists for an extended period (perhaps 45+ days depending on turf species, soil, etc), however, reduced recovery can be expected.
• Restrict traffic on dormant turf to the lowest possible level. The turfgrass shoots that die back when dormancy progresses are not able to adequately cushion and protect the critical meristems that will ultimately facilitate re-growth and recovery.
• Mow only when absolutely necessary. If a mowing event is needed, avoid mowing during the hottest part of the day (this benefits the turf as well as the operator).
For full UMass article, visit: http://extension.umass.edu/turfmanagement-updates/dry-conditions-turf-dormancy
In the 1940s and 50s clover was commonly interspersed with Kentucky bluegrass and maintained together in a healthy lawn. With the advent of the use of multiple herbicides in lawn treatments (2,4-D, dicamba, MCPP, tryclopyr, and chlopyralid) clover has gone from being an acceptable companion to our cool-season grasses to being considered simply a weed.
Because it can be controlled by herbicides or perhaps more accurately, because it cannot be discriminated by the herbicides it has been tossed into the weed category. Clover is a beneficial; it is a legume that is able to fix nitrogen out of the air and share it with surrounding turfgrass. The roots can be extensive and contribute significantly to the levels of organic matter in the soil.
The following release is from Beyond Pesticides (http://www.beyondpesticides.org):
Deadline, Friday April 27 at Noon
Dow Chemical has asked USDA for approval of genetically engineered (GE) corn, modified to be tolerant of the highly toxic 2,4-D herbicide, which is contaminated with dioxin and linked to cancer, birth defects and more. We know from experience that herbicide-tolerant crops are a bad idea. They increase toxic pesticide use, contaminate organic and non-GE farms, and contribute to herbicide-resistance.
In fact, Dow wants to introduce the new variety of GE corn because weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup, the previous chemical of choice for herbicide-tolerant plants. The irony is that Roundup was originally marketed as a safer alternative to replace 2,4-D!
Solving herbicide resistance with another toxic chemical is like using gasoline to put out a fire. It will cause even more damage to health and the environment, and in a few years, the pesticide industry will be marketing their next “solution” to the growing resistance problem.
Tell USDA to stop this toxic experiment and deny Dow’s petition for 2,4-D tolerant GMO corn. Please take action then forward this email to your friends and family! We will include all organizational sign-ons when we submit the comments to EPA and keep all signatories in the loop on this issue.
The above photos were taken today of two dandelions growing in my backyard. I believe them to be a good example of “What do weeds tell us about the soil?”
If you have dandelions growing in your yard like my “Very Healthy Dandelion” then your soil conditions are closer to the gravelly nature of this soil: compacted sandy sediment, low in organic matter, and very low in calcium.
On the other hand if your dandelions are similar to my “Anemic Dandelion” then congratulations your soil conditions are progressing to the point where they favor growing grass. Your organic matter is improving and being acted upon by the indigenous soil biology. The pH of the soil is at our near 6.5. The availability of phosphorous should be low. Most importantly calcium levels should be high.
Patience, improving soil conditions and proper cultural practices will all have an effect in changing your dandelion crop from “Very Healthy” to “Anemic”.
Due to the mild winter it is possible that you may encounter some early season grub damage, either directly from the grubs themselves or by their predators (skunks and crows), especially on newly transitioning lawns to organics. Obviously that lack of any sort of deep freeze this winter has allowed the grubs to remain closer to the soil surface. With the warming spring weather they are in the root zone feeding on the turf grass roots. As such they are also easy prey to the skunks and crows.
The grubs will likely continue feeding until about the 1st week of May. What to do? While we have had limited opportunities; we have had success using Hb Nematodes on white grubs in their 3rd instar. Please see Insect Parasitic Nematodes for Turfgrass Pest Management from Ohio State for more information on proper application.
Realistically the damage from crows or skunks is going to require repair. There will still be plenty of time to make repairs and get the areas established before summer, especially if you use a quick germinating turf grass species like perennial ryegrass.
If you are in need of Hb nematodes please check out GreenMethods.com.
You should also know that a conventional approach (e.g. pesticide use of Dylox) is unlikely to have any affect given that the grubs are in their 3rd in star lifecycle stage.
Want to talk more about Organic Turf Care?
Come visit us at NE Grows February 1-3 at the Boston Convention Center – Booth #2452!
PJC is a manufacturer and distributor of organic fertilizers and soil amendments. We provide product, consulting and business tools to landscapers, schools, and municipalities that want to transition from a conventional approach to an all natural organic turf care program for the maintenance of their lawns and athletic fields.