The turf industry continues to raise the standards of environmental stewardship through the foresight of industry groups and leaders and through the efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency. The GCSAA, Audubon International and the USGA all emphasize the role of turf managers in environmental stewardship. The EPA mandates changes in what products can be used in our industry both on a national and local level. The newest change nationally is the reduction of older chemical products with high toxicity levels. As these products come up for re-registration, the EPA is, often times, eliminating them. On local levels, the EPA is restricting use of certain products (i.e. nematode control products in Florida, chicken manure products around the Chesapeake Bay). However, the EPA is speeding up the registration process with environmentally friendly products. These products have low toxicity levels, are safe to the applicator and offer excellent control. What are these products? Extracts from soil borne microbes (biologicals) and Nature Safe. The EPA has based its decisions on newer testing standards that keep environmental stewardship as their main concern. Because of product elimination or restrictions, many turf managers are panicking. For most of these managers, these older chemical products have been the foundation for their spray programs. This is where your education and knowledge play a key role.
Nature Safe along with a strong IPM (Integrated Pest Management) program offers a great solution for the problems turf managers face. To understand this, it is important to keep in mind that the soil and turf grass are truly dependent on each other. The soil in itself is a biosphere, maintaining microbial populations and supporting the growth of plant life through nutrients andminerals found there. The theory behind most chemical applications is to “wipe” out problems, whether it be disease or insects. In essence, you break down the soil biosphere. Once chemicals are applied, the microbial populations in the soil are weakened in health and in numbers. Since some microbes have been eliminated, diseases and pests are not challenged. The turf’s health and natural resistance to pests and disease is impeded. We fertilize over and over to compensatefor this void. Suddenly one problem is fixed, but several others may surface. A viscous cycle is started. With Nature Safe, soil health is most important. Soil health correlates directly with plant health. Nature Safe builds up the soil and in turn builds up the turf. Microorganisms that flourish in the soil have defense mechanisms that can help inhibit growth of certain pests. By increasing microbial populations, Nature Safe creates its own fertilizer factory in the soil for turf. A healthy, stronger turf will handle stress conditions better and will build up resistance to disease and pests.
Listed below are some simple concepts that need to be communicated to your customers. By understanding the importance of these concepts, you will be successful in selling Nature Safe:
Nature Safe improves soil health which ultimately improves plant health. As Nature Safe is released in the soil, the product provides both the NPK the turf needs and the food energy the soil microbes need. As you feed the microbes, they provide the biological formula for reducing pest pressures. The more microbes in the soil, the better. University research has shown that Nature Safe has increased bacterial populations from 30 million cfu/g soil to 1 billion cfu/g soil.
Nature Safe requires a program selling approach. Nature Safe needs to be applied monthly during the growing season to maintain the food energy needs of the microbial population. The key benefits again will be stress and pest reduction.
Nature Safe is the foundation to good IPM. Nature Safe offers the biological benefits void in many turf programs. Nature Safe combined with sound cultural practices and wise spray programs offers the formula for success.
As Nature Safe distributors, we need to recognize that the EPA has created excellent sales opportunities for Nature Safe. The EPA surely has other products they will eliminate in the coming months. As a sales professional, you play the key role in keeping these turf managers aware of the solutions that are out there to counter this growing problem. Understanding the benefits and programs for biological based products like Nature Safe is vital.