New Fertilizer Laws Go Into Effect In Maryland Oct. 1st - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

New Fertilizer Laws Go Into Effect In Maryland Oct. 1st

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MARYLAND - The Maryland Department of Agriculture says a new lawn fertilizer law took effect on October 1st, including new requirements for fertilizer manufacturers, homeowners and lawn care professionals.

Officials say these individuals must now be licensed and certified to apply fertilizers to properties that they manage. According to reports, the Fertilizer Use Act, signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley in 2011, is designed to protect the Chesapeake Bay from nutrients entering its waters from a variety of urban sources, mainly lawns, golf courses, parks, recreation areas, athletic fields, businesses and other managed grassy areas encompassing nearly 1 million acres of land.

Experts say nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, are key ingredients in lawn fertilizer. According to the State Chemist, lawn fertilizer accounts for about 44 percent of the fertilizer sold in Maryland. When it rains, lawn fertilizer can reportedly wash into nearby storm drains and streams that empty into the Chesapeake Bay and contribute to the growth of algae blooms. Once in our waterways, excess fertilizers fuel the growth of algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching Bay grasses, rob the water of oxygen and threaten underwater life.

Under the new law, lawn fertilizer products sold in Maryland may no longer contain phosphorus with certain exceptions for specially labeled starter fertilizer and organic fertilizer products. Label directions must be written to ensure that no more than 0.9 pound of total nitrogen is applied per 1,000 square feet with part of this nitrogen in a slow release form. Environmental use statements are required on these products to further ensure proper application.

Beginning October 1, MDA says they will maintain a list lawn of care professionals who have received this certification at their website.

The law also requires homeowners to follow mandatory restrictions similar to those imposed for lawn care professionals:

–University of Maryland fertilizer recommendations are to be followed when applying nitrogen and phosphorus to lawns, and fertilizer that lands on sidewalks or driveways must be swept back onto the grass or cleaned up.

–Lawn fertilizer applications must be kept 10 to 15 feet from waterways.

–Fertilizer may not be used to de-ice walkways and driveways.

–Lawn fertilizer applications are banned between November 15 and March 1 and when heavy rain is predicted.

–Phosphorus may only be applied to lawns if soil test results indicate it is needed or when establishing, patching or renovating a lawn.

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