PHC (IPM) is it worth it?

oceans

Well-Known Member
So skip the threats and just start whooping asses. Perfect !
Ha!, no...just think of it as an approach without any modern tools. I know I'm being vague, but there was a time in human evolution at which things were done with natural solutions/materials, and plain old physical actions/manipulations. Prune it, remove it, let it be, smear honey on it, you know what I mean.

Nowadays, you pick up a product at the Supermarket that says "All Natural Ingredients" and it doesn't mean anything at all. It could be full of poison.
 

wyoclimber

Well-Known Member
Another important thing to remember is that chemical treatments for pests are almost always a short term solution. Sure, we can start treating every single Ash tree to prevent EAB. It'll probably even work... for a bit. How long until the pest we're targeting becomes resistant? And what do we do then? We can sell chemical treatments because the client is almost never thinking about the urban forest, much less the broader ecosystem. They just want their tree "saved". They want immediate results.
I think that especially with introduced pests like EAB, the desire is for eradication, which isn't an achievable goal.
We, as a society tend to want the quick and easy way. I don't see that changing anytime soon, and until that changes, PHC is going to continue to primarily be pesticides and ferts.
 

Treetopflyer

Well-Known Member
I think that especially with introduced pests like EAB, the desire is for eradication, which isn't an achievable goal.
This is my take on the invasives. Anyone ever sprayed a tree and then watched a bird land on it and start eating poisoned dead bugs . How can someone feel good about that ? Gypsy moth catapillar comes to mind. :baba:How many poor birds gulp them down after getting deuched by spray. Its not something to be over looked . Even a little tweety deserves better because in this web of life we are all connected somehow.
I have a guy whom we pressure wash his grey birches every April to June and he doesn't get one brown leaf from the miner. :rock:
To be clear oceans I did understand your post, I was just being a knucklehead. Thank you though. To be very transparent I hold a current pesticides license for almost ten years because at the time thought I had to get one to keep up with the Joneses, but choose not to apply pesticides because some reasons stated throughout my posts.I do not will not offer it as a service. I think there is always a better less toxic way to handle pests , the ability to stay ahead of the pest , early detection , and knowing the enemy all come into serious play . Its tough if someone calls usually when its late into infestation process . like Dsmc stated rarely does the call come before the problem or early enough to try another less toxic method. But I've got physical manipulation on my side. Kick his ash sea bass
 
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John_KAYS

Well-Known Member
But I think PHC and IPM can be simply defined as "the best option for the tree and the larger landscape ecosystem". It is put in the hands of the Arborist to decide what that means for each circumstance. Chemicals are usually the last option...and the most narrow spectrum should be used.

Something that always bothers me is the saying, "the best solution is to have not planted that tree there in the first place." How often does that help us down the road when we are called in to deal with a client's tree?
 

Treetopflyer

Well-Known Member
A
Something that always bothers me is the saying, "the best solution is to have not planted that tree there in the first place." How often does that help us down the road when we are called in to deal with a client's tree?
Good way to lose clientele talking like that right. If someone's calling you about it they have a reason. I believe that's getting down to the core of being a good arborist dealing with a problematic tree and making it better makes the work fulfilling . Making people happy is very important , if you are honest about the situation at hand you can't lose in my book.
 

wyoclimber

Well-Known Member
I agree that the saying can be annoying but I can also understand why it's said. If we can help the client understand the poor management choices that were made in the past that led to the current problem, hopefully they can be avoided in the future.
 

John_KAYS

Well-Known Member
Future for sure, but it sucks as an answer for the now. I totally agree with the saying, but when it is said about their current problem - and the solution is to not have had the tree where it is! I think that's a sorry excuse for an answer! Like with a birch planted out in the scorching sun in the lawn... "Client: Can you help me with my borer problem? Arborist: "Yeah, the best solution to your problem is to not have planted that tree there."
 

Treetopflyer

Well-Known Member
But client being as its here and you've called someone who really cares I think if you follow some of my recommendations we may be able to allievate some of the stresses bringing on this pest and a few organic solutions to keeping them from returning.
 

Treetopflyer

Well-Known Member
Good articles in tcia mag this month . One or two touch on things relating to this conversation. I liked both of them!
 

UncleDon

New Member
This is a great discussion. Thanks DSMc and others for setting it straight. PHC is, or should be, all about "the big picture". Refer to the opening statement in the PHC chapter of the ISA Arborist Certification Study Guide, which says it all.
Oceans honest and heart-felt statement is so true for the conscientious, ethical practitioner; I think about it every day too. New customers call up and say "my tree has bugs, can you come and spray it". Well I could do just that and pocket the money and they would never know any better, and I'd probably be making more money. But I care and I have a conscience and I try to educate and do the right thing. I can't afford to turn down work, but I do, way too often, because some people just don't want to hear it, they just want the bugs dead and they want it cheap. But I'm looking at it in the PHC way: well, what pest is present, why is it there, is it a tree killer or just a nuisance, is the nuisance tolerable to the resident for a while until the pest life cycle runs it course, what growing conditions, construction impact, soil and water management practices are contributing to the pest infestation, can those cultural conditions be modified, can biological controls or low tox botanicals be used for suppression, or do I really need to load up my big guns and stop a tree killer in it's tracks.
I spend a lot of unpaid time searching for pest and disease information, pest control measures, CE seminars, etc, but you have to if you're committed to the real PHC concept and practice.
I also quit advertising because I got sick of the run of the mill "bugs dead" inquiries. I'm fortunate that I have good associations built up over the years and I now just work off of referrals from a few loyal tree services, landscapers and consulting arborists who know me and my approach and give the clients a little heads-up, that I may recommend soil analysis and prescription mineral and biological amendments instead of general purpose NPK fertilization, that I may recommend changing the irrigation system or frequencies, incompatible plantings, things like that.
Preventive treatments, including correction of poor growing conditions, is where it's at, as much as possible. Get to know common pest and disease issues, anticipate and educate and get ahead of the problems before they get ahead of you and the trees. That's my simplified take on PHC. The real story is that it's not easy and it takes a lot of knowledge and experience and you have to build up a good network of information sources and associates to bounce stuff off of. And get a good smart phone to take photos and send multimedia text messages. Every day I send and receive pics and questions, what's this tree, whats' this ugly canker, what's chewing on these leaves? As long as I've been at it, I always need help and I'm always learning. I believe that's an essential attitude for PHC. Not only how can I take this customer for as much moola as I can. Levi, good can come of it, through education and ethical practice. At least to feel good about what you do and how you do it, and that you are doing the right thing as best you can.
 
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oceans

Well-Known Member
This is a great discussion. Thanks DSMc and others for setting it straight. PHC is, or should be, all about "the big picture". Refer to the opening statement in the PHC chapter of the ISA Arborist Certification Study Guide, which says it all.
Oceans honest and heart-felt statement is so true for the conscientious, ethical practitioner; I think about it every day too. New customers call up and say "my tree has bugs, can you come and spray it". Well I could do just that and pocket the money and they would never know any better, and I'd probably be making more money. But I care and I have a conscience and I try to educate and do the right thing. I can't afford to turn down work, but I do, way too often, because some people just don't want to hear it, they just want the bugs dead and they want it cheap. But I'm looking at it in the PHC way: well, what pest is present, why is it there, is it a tree killer or just a nuisance, is the nuisance tolerable to the resident for a while until the pest life cycle runs it course, what growing conditions, construction impact, soil and water management practices are contributing to the pest infestation, can those cultural conditions be modified, can biological controls or low tox botanicals be used for suppression, or do I really need to load up my big guns and stop a tree killer in it's tracks.
I spend a lot of unpaid time searching for pest and disease information, pest control measures, CE seminars, etc, but you have to if you're committed to the real PHC concept and practice.
I also quit advertising because I got sick of the run of the mill "bugs dead" inquiries. I'm fortunate that I have good associations built up over the years and I now just work off of referrals from a few loyal tree services, landscapers and consulting arborists who know me and my approach and give the clients a little heads-up, that I may recommend soil analysis and prescription mineral and biological amendments instead of general purpose NPK fertilization, that I may recommend changing the irrigation system or frequencies, incompatible plantings, things like that.
Preventive treatments, including correction of poor growing conditions, is where it's at, as much as possible. Get to know common pest and disease issues, anticipate and educate and get ahead of the problems before they get ahead of you and the trees. That's my simplified take on PHC. The real story is that it's not easy and it takes a lot of knowledge and experience and you have to build up a good network of information sources and associates to bounce stuff off of. And get a good smart phone to take photos and send multimedia text messages. Every day I send and receive pics and questions, what's this tree, whats' this ugly canker, what's chewing on these leaves? As long as I've been at it, I always need help and I'm always learning. I believe that's an essential attitude for PHC. Not only how can I take this customer for as much moola as I can. Levi, good can come of it, through education and ethical practice. At least to feel good about what you do and how you do it, and that you are doing the right thing as best you can.
Great input, Uncle Don. Weak ethics can errode quickly with dishonest people. Your multi-dimensional perspective on PHC as a whole sounds very healthy to me. You also harbor the understanding that proper practitioners require the ability to carefully focus not only on a single plant issue, but the entire environment surrounding that issue. Cheers to that.
Do you have any thoughts on how to better the trade? Would you suggest more stringent requirements for the practitioner, educating the public, etc??? Of course no single action can correct the problem, but im curious to hear your take...
 

UncleDon

New Member
Thanks Oceans; As far as bettering the trade, I think it's happening, and a forum like this is an important component. Public demand and peer pressure for least toxic alternatives are increasing. I don't know about other states, but California pesticide applicators licensing programs and CEU requirements and University of California IPM program has become mainstream, even for large agro-business, and totally oriented to PHC/IPM to the extent that thankfully, you can't find an extension advisor or PCA that will recommend a pesticide without considering the bigger cultural picture, especially not older generation Warning or Danger label pesticides like OP's (organophospates) and chlorinated hydrocarbons. Most of the large ag chemical companies are now heavy into R&D for less toxic botanical pesticides. (For example, Dow AgroSciences has put out GF-120 fruit fly bait, a spinosad based product, and OMRI. I'm using it for olive fruit fly control. The old way may have been chorpyrifos). Laws and regulations are important but only go so far, many people think that freedom means freedom to do whatever they want and they disregard social responsibility and professional integrity, pick and choose what laws they follow in their own self interest.
Applicator and public education is the most important IMO. ISA, UC programs and local pesticide applicator organizations are doing a great job here for professionals in California, lots of IPM seminars.
Unfortunately one of the obstacles is that many people over-react to the terms "chemical" and "pesticide" out of mis-information, and these have become dirty words. They don't realize that everything is chemical based, and that the harmless stuff, EPA exempt, completely non-toxic substances can be classified as pesticides. There are degrees of toxicity and not every chemical and pesticide is harmful to people, pets and the environment. And then there are the more bio-rational methods of application, like closed system stem injections vs canopy spraying, when a particular pest problem requires a stronger pesticide solution. We have to educate and differentiate what we are talking about and what we are using. If those of us who are out there doing this work just keep up educating ourselves first, and then educating our customers and associates, it will go a long way. And even from the business side of things, if you are taking on pest control work and are not getting on board with PHC/IPM programs, you will be getting left behind. Your better educated customers are going to come to people like me, thank you very much, because I can offer a less toxic, more comprehensive, intelligent plant management program. It's happening!
 
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DSMc

Well-Known Member
...The point I am trying to make is that although some are responsible enough to have access to toxic chemicals I would guess that most are not responsible and are just trying to make money. Therefore my opinion is that we would be better off without them.
For the record, Levi, I understood what you were getting at and took no offence. But you can't believe that these problems will somehow go away. The list of things that we would be "better off without" is a long one indeed. As much as I would like to change the world I know it will not happen. That does not mean giving up, but instead focus on what can be done and not on what can't. A single individual can have a very strong affect on the people within their sphere of influence. That is where doing and teaching the right things will accomplish the most good.
 

UncleDon

New Member
Levi, no offense should be taken, in fact you are right on target, there is so much abuse, greed, lack of responsible professionalism around this subject. I think you did a great service by asking the question and starting this discussion; look where it's gone. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to express some of these things I've been thinking about and to make a statement about standards and the need we all have to continually improve our knowledge and resources.

And responsible PHC is an up and coming profession, with more and more demand. I continually get referrals and new customers who say they heard I'm not spray happy, and they are really concerned about not putting toxic stuff into their environment. If educated arborists can take it out of the hands of the "exterminators", the termite guys, it's a good direction. Don't get me wrong, structural pest control is a valid, much needed and respectable profession, but they often don't have the knowledge and experience with trees and landscapes, abiotic disorders and growing conditions that I feel is necessary to really get it right and not just think spray, spray, spray is the only way.

And younger tree guys (and gals) should think about what you're going to do when you just can't keep up the climbing and the toll it takes on your body. Or you get sick of running employees and all the headaches that brings. Consulting and PHC is something us old arborists and burned out tree service owners can still do.
 
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DSMc

Well-Known Member
I disagree, Levi. There is no conflict of interest unless you create it. Writing proper specifications is not a guaranty that proper work will be done, just a guaranty that your client will be paying more than is needed.

If you have the knowledge to make the wright decisions, why not do the work yourself and ensure it is done right.
 

UncleDon

New Member
I'm kind of with DSMc on this. Although conflict of interest can be a real issue, but it's never going to happen where there are only consultants making recommendations and only applicators following their lead. I won't go there, I want to make my own decisions. And there are too many decisions and judgement calls that have to be made, some at the time of application, on site, and IMO only an experienced applicator is capable of sorting it all out.

I work in an area that is inundated with consulting arborists. At lot of that is because Silicon Valley and surrounding area is rich right now and on a construction boom, and more counties and municipalities are requiring arborist reports and tree protection plans for every permit application. And many want to put on a suit, not jeans and boots to work hard, get sweaty, dirty and tired. When it comes to PHC, I find that for many consulting arborists PHC is a weak area and flooded with wrong ideas and perceptions and mis-information. I wouldn't always trust a consultant-only to give me a recommendation on treatment. You really have to do the work in order to learn what works and what doesn't and all the variables.

There is nothing to further the learning process like getting the dreaded call from a customer, "Hello Don, you treated my ash tree for wooly aphids, but a month later I'm still getting heavy honeydew dripping on my entry walkway and Mercedes Benz in the driveway. " "OK I'll come and check it out and re-treat if necessary" but what you are really saying to yourself is F@#k, what went wrong, what did I use and how much, did they pre-irrigate like I told them to, was there adequate soil moisture and uptake; is it too late in the season and the tree is drawing down into storage and not taking up; that is a big tree, maybe I should have gone with maximum label rate and not tried to conserve on my expense for materials. Now I have to go back and treat again for free because I always guarantee results unless qualified no guarantee as best shot experimental.

You never forget that pest and that mistake. The next time you will sell pre-watering yourself because you can't trust the customer to do it right, and you go with max label rate to permeate tissues of a large tree, or you call your PCA, change treatment or whatever you think it will take, because you sure as hell don't want to go back again for free on that one, and you don't want to lose that customer forever; you'll wash their Mercedes if you have to. The consultant-only will never get that kind of feedback and learning experience unless he or she has first hand experience with treatment.
In any case, in California, in order to make recommendations on pesticide use, legally one has to be a licensed pest control advisor (PCA), and not many consulting arborists have that licensing.
 
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