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How do you know if you’ve got the right guy at your corporate door to preserve your tree?  Well, you either got a word-of-mouth referral or you saw his advertisement somewhere; perhaps on the web, perhaps you googled, tree preservation; perhaps you found the guy in print somewhere.  But you’re a smart guy yourself.  You did not get to where you are by not asking the right questions.  If you did marry the boss’s daughter you earned your position.

You already know that the 1st question you should pose regards the ANSI standards.  If the guy looks at you with a blank stare you’ve probably got the wrong person.  Remember please, the 1st rule of tree preservation, or for that matter any assignment, is to protect the client.  You cannot protect the client from tree failures, wrongful death, personal injury, or breach of contract by not 1st covering your posterior with national standards.

But what about after national standards, what comes next?  Well, the tree care practitioner in front of you should at a minimum present to you some testing to be conducted on the tree you are considering to preserve.  Recall what happens when you go for your annual checkup.  Does the doctor take blood work?  What would your reaction be if the doctor came into the office, sat down, and started telling you what was wrong with you?   No bloodwork.  No x-rays.  No type of testing whatsoever.  Just started to diagnose your problem by looking at you.  How would you respond?  Seriously.  After the initial shock you most undoubtedly would leave his office never to return and never to have forgotten the experience.  Yet you’re ready to do that with the important tree which you hope to preserve.  Right?  Right.

The arborist at your proverbial tour should be recommending to you soil testing and tissue testing.  Think of a buffet table.  As you walk down the endless array of choices before you, do you take a little bit of everything that’s offered?  Of course not.  Now think of the soil in which your tree is growing as the buffet table.  You need to know what’s on that table before you make a selection.  You need to know what’s in the soil before you start the preservation protocol.  But what’s in the soil is only part of the story.  You also need to know what the tree has taken up from that which is being offered.  That’s tissue testing.  The soil may, but certainly will not, have an abundance of nutrients in it but the tree will not take up all of those nutrients.  Just like you did not take a sampling from the buffet table of everything that was being offered.

Once your arborist has both of these tests they should be placed in a juxtaposition for analysis.  There is a plethora of diagnostic information that must be known before a tree can be successfully preserved.  As an example, probably the most important component is the soil ph.  PH, the power of hydrogen, tells you if the soil is “sweet” or if the soil is “sour”.  Why?  Because it affects the ability of taking up certain nutrients from the soil profile into the tree.  PH affects a number of other things including microorganisms and their activity in the soil.  For your purposes, you want to know about the up take phenomena.  There’s also the cation exchange capacity which will tell you what nutrients will leach out of the soil profile which in turn will enable you to create a maintenance regime that will keep the tree healthy in the after situation of the preservation effort.  The estimated nitrogen releases another important component of soil testing.

More easily explained are “danger words” or “quack-talk” that is certain to come from the person in front of you should they not know that of which they speak.  Some of these bad words include organic inoculations, liquid organics, mycorrhizae injections / inoculations, deep-root fertilization, and fertilization itself; especially bad, nitrogen.  Should you hear any of these words please let them serve as danger signal to you that the person in front of you knows not of tree biology or meaningful tree preservation?   They are quacks.  Sometimes unwittingly; sometimes not.  But it doesn’t make a difference.  Get them out of your office as quickly as possible.  If they sit there too long they may talk you into buying their service.  And that would be a mistake.



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Having knowledge means sharing knowledge by giving back to those in the industry who want to explore new sources of revenue.  Joe Samnik and Lori Ballard will be teaching tree appraisal to arborist from both the Florida and Southern Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).  Putting a value on a tree can prove to be very challenging when utilizing industry accepted formulas.  In addition to the basic fundamentals of tree appraisal, arborists have to have a complete understanding of how to utilize these formulas.  Arborists will get the opportunity to learn these skills at the upcoming Tree Appraisal Workshop taking place at the UF-IFAS Leon County Extension in Tallahassee on March 3, 2016.


Joe Samnik and Lori Ballard have both been selected to present at the upcoming Florida Chapter ISA Annual Conference, Trees Florida taking place June 12 – 14, 2016 in Delray Beach Florida.  Joe and Lori will be teaming up with an attorney and other industry experts to present Killer Trees and Negligence.  This Academy will explore how to best avoid being named as a litigant by examining the concepts and applications of tree law and the misconceptions regarding perceived tree risk assessment of the discrepancies and significant gaps in knowledge that exist at each level of biology, standards and assessment/maintenance.


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Joe Samnik and Lori Ballard speak at the International Society of Aboriculture, International Conference!

Joe and Lori have been enjoying their  educational speaking engagments in 2015.

Joe Samnik and Lori Ballard both had their abstracts selected for presentation at the International Society of Arboriculture Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.  Arborists from around the world were in attendance.

Joe also presented at the annual conference of the Florida Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architects, as well as the Knowledge College for FNGLA .Both he and Lori presented at the FSMPA conference in Orlando Fl.

In October, Joe and Lori will present to Landscape Architects at the Last Chance Seminars along with Dr. Monica Elliot, Dr. Tim Broschat, Dr. Laurie Trenholm and John Conroy of Fish Branch Tree Farm.

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