LandCare strives to transition all products to “caution” label
Duane Faloni, market vice president of LandCare, always reads the labels.
“I would sometimes grab products from under my sink at home to illustrate how many toxins we have around us every day,” Faloni said. “At LandCare’s Windsor location, we have transitioned our products to the safest levels possible. One concern of mine was that even organic products often carried a ‘warning’ label, mostly due to their acidity levels. We were pleased that EcoMIGHT’s naturally organic herbicide carries only a ‘caution’ label.”
According to OSHA, all products must be labeled according to their toxicity levels. The “danger” signal word with the skull and crossbones indicates the most toxic products, followed by “danger” alone, “warning”, and “caution”.
As part of its overall sustainability effort, LandCare’s Windsor location has eliminated all products
labeled with the “danger” signal words and has transitioned as many products as possible from “warning” down to “caution”.
Local Market Demands Organic
Although LandCare serves a mix of customers, the company is finding that some of its clients are demanding more organic solutions. A few major customers demand 100% organic solutions for their commercial properties.
“We’re in a very progressive area, and there’s a growing concern with using glyphosate-based herbicides on not only human health but on the health of family pets,” said Faloni, who has more than 25 years of experience in the industry and is certified in irrigation and water conservation. “LandCare offers a multi-phase program that can include cardboard, heavy mulch and organic herbicides to serve these customers.”
Unfortunately, LandCare has struggled in the past to find organic products that were effective and affordable. “We’ve tried various products that were not very good,” Faloni said. “Organic products often don’t kill the roots; they just burn the tops. That meant many repeated applications, which was often too great of a cost burden on our customers.”
When an industry friend shared EcoMIGHT’s naturally organic herbicide product with Faloni, he was interested. “I’m always looking for better products, and my friend was having tremendous success with EcoMIGHT,” he said. “I reached out to get the product so I could test it myself.”
“I’m always looking for better products, and my friend was having tremendous success with EcoMIGHT”
Starting With Minimum Application
Most herbicide manufacturers suggest customers begin applications using the mid-level or higher-level dilution concentrations. LandCare chose to start at the lowest recommendation instead.
“We took a different approach during our trial,” Faloni said. “We started with the minimum dilution rate and used EcoMIGHT in the middle of summer to see what would happen. We were encouraged that because we knew we’d see even better results with higher dilution rates.”
LandCare has successfully used EcoMIGHT to control both annual and perennial weeds common in a landscape setting.
Filiberto Flores, production manager at one of LandCare’s major organic customer sites, vouches for the product’s performance. “We’ve tried so many different organic products,” Flores said. “It’s not easy trying to keep a 15- to 20-acre property weed-free organically. EcoMIGHT kills to the roots. It’s the best product–better than anything else we’ve used. I really love it.”
Significant Savings in Labor and Product
Although LandCare began using EcoMIGHT this past summer, the company has already experienced significant cost savings in terms of both product used and labor expenses.
“Generally, we were making five to six applications of organic herbicides over the course of a year,” Faloni said. “During the growing season, these products would only burn the tops, and they were ineffective during the winter.
“With EcoMIGHT, we have seen much longer residual control,” he added. “We did one application in June, and we just made a second one in September. I’d say that’s a reduction of 30% to 40% both in the amount of products used as well as the labor costs for repeated applications. I foresee transitioning most of our portfolio to EcoMIGHT in the upcoming year.”
“With EcoMIGHT, we have seen much longer residual control,” he added. “We did one application in June, and we just made a second one in September. I’d say that’s a reduction of 30% to 40% both in the amount of products used as well as the labor costs
Reducing Toxicity Part of Overall Sustainability Effort
Transitioning its herbicide products as well as other products to the safest levels possible is only one facet of LandCare’s overall sustainability program.
The company offers customizable programs where customers can choose to use cardboard initially along with a heavy compost and mulch layer to reduce overall product usage. In addition, customers can choose ground covers that reduce weed germination.
“We also offer irrigation management services and encourage our customers to use smart controllers,” Faloni said. “We’ve been recycling office materials for years, and we hold our equipment usage to only the absolute minimum when we have ‘spare the air’ days in our community. In addition, we’ve been designing areas that allow different plants, shrubs and trees to grow to their full potential to reduce pruning requirements.”
Company Prioritizes Education of Employees, Community
Besides trying hard to do the right thing when it comes to the environment, Faloni explains that it’s also important to educate both employees and the community when it comes to organic and safer solutions.
“When our applicators are out in the community, we want people to understand that we’re using organic products,” Faloni said. “When many people see that backpack sprayer, they automatically think about toxic products. We’ve definitely seen a heightened awareness, especially during the lockdowns.”
LandCare also sponsors yearly training on the pesticides, herbicides and other products the company uses. “We go through every label with our applicators to keep them informed,” Faloni said. “We want them to see that we’re trying to use the least toxic option available–and that just because something is organic, that doesn’t mean it’s safer.”
As LandCare continues to move as many products as possible from “warning” labels to safer “caution” labels, it will build less toxic, more sustainable landscapes for its customers, for its community, and for our world.
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