Growing the green

November 10, 2008  - By

The Bad News: In mid-July, when oil prices peaked at $147.27 a barrel, turf care companies were being slammed by cost increases from all sides. Their fuel costs for vehicles and equipment, on average, were up 37% year-over-year for regular gas and 64% for unleaded gas. Delivery of ornamentals, flowers and other materials often had fuel surcharges between 5% and 16% attached to them. Mark-ups of 30% on petroleum-based PVC piping for irrigation were not uncommon.

But for many turf care companies, the hit on the fertilizer side was the largest. For instance, TruGreen’s Lawn Care Division saw its fertilizer costs soar 36%. At mid-year, the division’s fleet was projected to spend $9 million more on fuel in 2008. But the cost increase on the fertilizer side at the time was pegged at $20 million, according to Dennis Sutton, president and chief operating officer of the Downers Grove, IL-based company.

The Good News: Oil prices have plummeted along with most stock values during the second half of 2008. While prices per barrel are still very volatile — and fertilizer will always account for a significant portion of turf care material costs — LebanonTurf is helping bring stability to this increasingly concerning situation.

Unveiled at GIE+EXPO last month in Louisville, KY, LebanonTurf Stabilizing Nitrogen (LSN) and NutriLife Catalyzed Fertilizer arm turf care pros in their daily battles against oil-based price hikes by cutting their fertilizer needs 20% to 40% while delivering improved, sustained greening and growth, says Katherine Bishop, LebanonTurf president.

Red Hots
LSN nuggets look a bit like the candy Red Hots — and pack an equally powerful punch — but they’re only for turf to eat up. As an agronomic alternative to other slow-release nitrogen sources, LSN is designed to deliver nitrogen consistently and efficiently, while bolstering contractors’ bottom lines.

“Straight urea can lose up to 40% of its uptake in the first two weeks if you don’t have adequate rain or irrigation,” Bishop says. “LSN reduces this nitrogen volatility. With LSN, turf care professionals can reduce overall fertilizer costs 10% to 30%.”

With LSN, “growing the green” is much about better-looking turf as it is about cutting costs, says Jim Fino, LebanonTurf’s marketing manager – fertilizer.

Fino notes that a study conducted by Purdue University found LSN-treated urea performed better than untreated urea in a number of categories. LSN-treated urea’s color development was more visible than straight urea 10 weeks after application; quality ratings were similar with a 25% reduction in urea when using LSN; and LSN cut down on clippings — reducing waste and stress on the turf — without compromising color or quality.

Uptake uptick
LebanonTurf’s new NutriLife Catalyzed Fertilizer is proven to help professionals maintain consistent quality turf and reduce nutrient applications, runoff and leaching while cutting costs.

NutriLife is a proprietary process made by harvesting naturally occurring beneficial soil microbes along with their fermentation liquid medium. These are enhanced with humic acid and a 3% analysis of urea ammonium nitrate. In short: When impregnated on fertilizer, Nutrilife delivers an uptick in nutrient uptake.

“With NutriLife, our trials over three years have shown that we can reduce the nitrogen required to grow quality turfgrass by 25% or more,” says Dr. Frank Rossi of Cornell University.

For more information on LebanonTurf’s LSN and NutriLife green-growing solutions, contact Jim Fino at jfino@lebsea.com, call 717-575-2170, or visit www.lebturf.com.

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