Blanket Tree Care: Are we as arborists truly solving the problem?

Soil and the Future of Tree Care: Reflections on a Conversation and the Pro Green Expo

The older I get and the more knowledge that I soak up in the tree service industry, I am beginning to question things. I had a conversation with an employee the other day after attending the Pro Green Expo that opened my eyes a little bit more. We were talking about soil…I know, for most folks this is a topic that you ponder about before bed nightly. Laughingly, I am that guy that drives down the road listening to soil podcasts. Back to the point…our conversation was not about actual soil but what we had learned that day about a new way to enhance soil to make the plants we care for stronger and healthier.

You need to understand that this employee of mine is way smarter than me when it comes to micro and macro biology and all the beneficial protozoa, bacteria, and fungi that make up quality soil. He’s young, in his mid-twenties, very impressionable and as I sat there letting him ramble, going on and on about how cool this is and how cool that is, and what if this could change or that could be done differently. And it dawned on me, that he is the future of tree care. I told him, “if my children or your children attend the Pro Green Expo in 20 years and they are learning what we learned about today, then we have failed.”

He kind of got that tilted head curious puppy dog look because he didn’t understand the point I was trying to make, but as I explained further that it is up to him to continue to learn, continue to research, and continue to apply himself so that in 20 years he will be the speaker at an event teaching others about a new innovation that he discovered on how to better care for our trees. His eyes lit up and I could see a light went off in his brain. It was really cool!

The next few days I thought more and more about our conversation and it has made me question if Great Western Tree Care is doing all that we can for our customers plants. They hire us because they trust that we are the tree experts. And even though we are very good at what we do I question if we can do more. I question if we have fallen into what I call blanket tree care. Every arborist in the Greater Denver area is facing the same biological, cultural, and environmental problems that are effecting our trees. We all have the same access to the best current practices according to industry standards. And we all use the same products and same approach that the industry is telling us is the best. That is blanket tree care.

The Search for Better Solutions in Tree Care: Reflections on Solbere, Bacillus, and the Need for Diagnosis Before Prescription

I listened to a podcast the other day on the Shawn Ryan show about a product that has been in the works for 25 years called Solbere. It’s a spray that you apply to plants that has proven to increase a plants ability to intake carbon by upwards of 15%. That’s incredible! Granted, the podcast was geared more towards climate change and how to effectively decrease levels of carbon in the troposphere to lower temperatures on the planet. Me being a tree guy my mind shifted away from climate change and more towards carbon intake. The more carbon a plant brings in the more a plant can photosynthesize, the more photosynthesis that takes place the stronger a plant will be. Unfortunately, they won’t sell it to me. The company is pushing for massive federal and agricultural contracts, not local tree company contracts.

At Pro Green Expo we learned about a newer product that will introduce bacillus into the soil. Bacillus is a genus of bacteria that is naturally occurring in healthy soil from the waste product of earthworms and rolly pollies. This is very cool, beneficial bacillus will promote healthy soil which promotes healthier trees. Unfortunately, I got the website, and I can’t buy the product.

This drives me crazy…I’ve mentioned two products that if I could get my hands, based on what I’ve learned about them, I could apply to my customers plants and soil that could potentially be a game changer in overall health. This is where we as arborists need to do more. We need to stop prescribing without diagnosing. We need to get more involved with new innovations and new research that is proving to work. We need to stop using blanket fertilizers and blanket sprays, that yes are working, but are they truly solving the problem?

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