Going Green for Less: Affordable organic products produced
By MINDI MIKULA, Country World Staff Writer
Courtesy of Country World
April 3, 2008 - Organic prevention of disease, weed and insect infestation is the primary focus of Brad Watson and his wife Jeannine's Smith County company, Watson Ranch. With proven programs and low overhead costs which they can pass on the consumer, Watson Ranch has found a niche in today's agriculture industry amid concerns of rising fertilizer and nitrogen costs.
"Lots of people think this is a new approach," said Watson. "Chemicals are new. Organics go back to cavemen. We've taken great-grandma's recipe from her garden and with modern technology make it 100 times better."
Watson, a retired lawman, started applying fertilizer for other companies in 1997, using both organic and chemical formulas. When his license for chemical application came up for renewal, he found the organics performed better. Watson and his wife met with chemists to fine-tune their recipes and began testing on their own pastures.
They began manufacturing their own line of organic fertilizers and soil amendment products in 2001 under the name Watson Ranch. The Watsons soon found the biggest problem with organic products is that while they do work, the results are slower to appear than chemical methods.
In response to the problem, Watson Ranch formulated their biggest seller, Booster Max. Booster Max is a high energy, carbon source with all natural nutrients. The all-natural ingredients include molasses, alfalfa tea, green sand tea, and seaweed tea, all organic boosters which Watson calls, "a food source for the micro-organisms to do their job."
"It's a mix of boosters," stated Watson. "It is a foliar feed, a food source for the micro-organisms, and a root fertilizer with three types of natural growth hormones."
Watson put his Booster Max to the test against 250 pounds of Triple-17 in Crockett, where growth and weather conditions were most favorable. The Booster Max outperformed the Triple-17, producing an average of six to eight medium round bales per acre.
Watson Ranch also manufactures Micro Grow, which contains nitrogen fixing micro-organisms that go to work detoxifying and conditioning soil so plants grow. Aerobic Compost Tea is similar to Micro Grow but with foliar effects.
The Garlic Spray repels leaf-eating insects, including grasshoppers. Because of the natural garlic ingredient, the product is completely safe for grazing livestock and can even contribute to livestock health because of the positive health benefits of garlic.
The Micro-Grow also has shown surprising powers of fire ant control. According to Watson, Texas A&M did a study on fire ants and their findings showed healthy soil drastically reduces fire ant numbers.
"Micro-Organisms are the only natural enemy of the fire ant. The Micro-Organisms eat the outside shell of the larvae, get into the soft tissue of the exoskeleton and shorten the life of the workers and queens. This results in fewer, smaller and less aggressive mounds," said Watson.
Micro-Grow also helps in getting rid of army worms
Humate Tea is the result of a combination of micronizing and suspension technologies, and delivers the maximum possible concentration of humic/fulvic acids to plants and soil in a liquid form. Humate Tea uses large surface areas to deliver maximum results, and as with all Watson Ranch products, is totally organic, non-toxic and safe to handle.
"Humate Tea is an espresso for the micro-organisms to do their job," said Watson.
All products come in liquid form and in concentrated formulas, and are acceptable for use in Certified Organic Operations under NOP. Products also have a guaranteed shelf life of one year once they leave the ranch.
"What we do differently is use additional organic ingredients that extract the nutrients," said Watson. "That's our 'trade secret.'"
Watson Ranch also endorses Gulf of Maine, which they do not manufacture, as an alternative foliar product.
Each of the products from Watson Ranch goes through a strict testing procedure, beginning on the Wastson's own pastures.
"It's been a learning experience," said Jeannine. "We see how healthy the animals are. They don't get sick or have health problems. A few years ago we oversold our hay and had to use some locally grown hay that had chemicals on it. My mare was so mad she wouldn't touch it. They can tell."
"It's a lot like pharmaceutical drugs versus vitamins and minerals which restore the body's balance," explained Watson. "I always say, "A doctor can make a dead man feel good with enough pharmaceuticals."
Bear Lane, one of Watson's distributors, tells a story about his father which Brad relayed. Bear's dad asked him one day about his Watson Ranch program, 'Are you still using that snake oil on your place?' Bear told him he was and his dad asked if he liked it. Bear replied that his dad had always taught him to let the livestock be the judge. Bear then challenged his dad to bring his best bale of hay and match it to his own worst bale. The proof was in the pudding because the cattle only sniffed Bear's father's hay and ate every last stem of Bear's hay. That is only one of many stories the Watsons have heard from customers.
"We have no fancy facilities, but they (other companies) don't have a pasture to show (customers) either," said Watson proudly.
Having their own pasture, aside from being able to test on their own property first, serves as one of their best sales tools.
"(Customers) look for earthworm castings and weeds," said Watson. "Chemicals kill biology and life in the soil. The beneficials seem to die off quicker than the ones you want to get rid of.
"People always want to compare chemicals and organics," said Watson, but there are many differences.
With most fertilizers, once applied the nitrogen immediately begins to go back into the environment. With organic products, farmers no longer have to be controlled, or ruined, by the weather.
"Bear once went 50 days without rain, and after the rain he still saw the effects," noted Watson.
Watson Ranch markets to the commercial cattleman, specializing in hay and grazing programs. Last year the Watsons started putting together programs for corn and wheat. They offer customizable programs for all needs.
Cost is where organics seal the deal. The last recommendation at the Texas A&M Hay and Cattleman's Conference was that chemical was around $80 per acre, per application, according to Watson.
"We can do the same thing for less than $20 per application," said Watson. Their current average cost per acre, per application is $18. "That's four applications of our product to one of theirs."
Their close family of dealers and distributors remain a very important part of the operation. They are the second in the line of testing and only after the 'recipe' has passed muster on the Watson's ranch and the dealer's pastures will they market it to the public.
"All of our dealers were satisfied customers before they became dealers. It was one of our criteria," said Jeannine.
Dealers attend yearly seminars with Watson Ranch. Watson feels each dealer knows his area's soil and weather best and it is a good way to share stories and see what is working and what isn't.
With water conservation, high costs of fertilizer, and drought as growing issues, organics could be the answers to a farmer's prayer.
"With our organic products, you don't need as much water," explained Watson. "Chemicals actually hurt the plant cell structure and they need more water."
"We want to make the land safer for future generations," added Jeannine.
Watson Ranch hopes to expand to include dealers in every state and host conferences for interested parties.
Watson knows that when livestock is your livelihood, you can't afford to take chances. He believes his proof is in his own pastures.
"We use it where we live," said Watson.
Organic Ranch Success Near Hawkins
Courtesy of KLTV.com
As some traditional farms and ranches struggle these days with high feed and fertilizer prices, one East Texas ranch has come up with a winning, all natural way to make the fields green. Just south of Hawkins, Watson Ranch offers an old fashioned way to farming success. Nurturing his latest fertilizer tea, Brad Watson has found a recipe for success, organics.
"They said I was crazy because I was going against all the chemical companies," said Watson. "I decided I'd rather use organics rather than chemicals. It sounded like a better idea to me, and I started using them, and I liked the results, so I started selling them." With all natural ingredients like molasses, green sand tea and seaweed, the Watson's came up with a liquid fertilizer formula that works and much quicker than traditional fertilizers. They call it booster max.
"People are seeing results in weeks, rather than months, or years," said Watson. "We're about a quarter of the cost of one chemical application." Using booster max on their own property, the Watson's turned brown fields, into lush meadows.
"I love the fact that we're doing something good and for the environment and the animals," said Watson's wife Jeannine. "I can go to bed at night and feel good about it."
"It helps the environment helps the kids," said Watson. "It saves our land for future generations." Their getting lots of business, particularly since organics cost less than traditional.
"People are looking for alternatives they can't afford to stay in business and pay the chemical prices," said Watson.
To learn more about organic fertilizer go to our homepage and click on the Know More on 7 link. There you will find Organic Ranch.
Bob Hallmark, Reporting. firstname.lastname@example.org