Usually the problem with organic maintenance is not the high cost of supplies but the lack of anything to sell (in good conscience). Is it ethical to sell stuff the clients don't need? Conceivably you could get away with one application of dirt-cheap protein meal at the beginning of every season and do nothing else all year. Where's the monthly income in that? You almost have to get into a monthly spray program with compost tea or molasses/seaweed or something like that to keep some cash flowing. Maybe you could do 3 lesser applications of protein meal throughout the season??
I have an e-friend in Canada who's managing a par-three golf course organically. He's trying to convince the rest of his clients to go organic, too. He's using corn meal rather than blood or cottonseed meal. His biggest problem is the return of the earthworms leaving dirt piles on the greens every morning. I'm hoping to write a story about him, complete with pictures, for Howard's newsletter.
The choice of protein meals should be driven by local economics. If you can't get corn meal for $5/50 pounds, then use alfalfa, soy, canola, or whatever is low cost at your local feed store. If you're in the business, you'll be buying pallets at a time and should get a pretty good price. In some locales, the retail animal feed price is more like $3-$8 for 100 pounds of meal.
Making and selling your own brand of compost is another profit center for you. In this case you're selling beneficial microbes. Check out fisheries or chicken processing places for wholesale prices on guts and feathers. You could compost these and charge retail for the compost, or if they are no longer smelly, you could use them directly (I doubt it, though).
Another source of microbes is to make compost tea and spray that for your clients. The cost to make tea is 1/1000 the cost of commercial compost but the cost of applying it is the same as spraying the old chemicals you might have used in the past. Compost tea is safe, too, so you don't need the rubber boots and mask to spray.
Regarding aerating, many organic turf managers find they no longer need to aerate. As the organic fertilizers return the soil microbes to good health, the microbes provide all the natural tilth that's ever needed. As a side benefit, thatch goes away naturally. Whether its clay or sand, the microbes establish soft black dirt. It helps if the turf is mown high and the owners water properly (deeply and infrequently).
Another issue found in organic turf maintenance is that the clients see lots of spraying, spreading, and maintenance activity on their neighbors' chemically managed properties and nearly none on their organic property. The reason is that the organic program sets it up so that Mother Nature can be in charge. Protein based fertilizers can be applied one time and the microbes will handle everything else for the season. Taller grass and less frequent watering discourages weeds so there is little to no herbicide spraying/spreading. No chemical pesticide spraying will encourage the return of predator species, like ladybugs and wasps, so the damaging insects never get a foothold. Use of organic ferts will see a return of birds who are also insect predators (and manure spreaders). So with less activity on the organic turf, the clients have to be convinced by the maintenance company that the work that is NOT being done on their yard is not being done by design and not by neglect.
And when the wasps return, the owners have to learn to live with them. If they stop swatting everything that moves, the wasps will take care of caterpillars and spiders without being pesky about it. Nobody should get stung by wasps that are left alone.
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