Zero Phosphorous Law Update

Zero Phosphorous Law Update
By Al Lanoie, Regional Sales Manager

I recently presented our Nature Safe products at a landscape and lawn care seminar in Danbury, CT. Many of the turf managers were from nearby Westchester County, NY where a zero phosphorus restriction and fertilizer application timing affect fertilizer users in this region.

Nature Safe addresses the zero phosphorus restrictions with product formulations like 9-0-9, 10-0-8 with kelp extract, 15-0-8 and the popular 27-0-2 with UFLEXXTM. The seminar attendees strongly supported these products and thought that as a fertilizer manufacturer Nature Safe has successfully addressed the zero phosphorus restriction with our product offering.

Here is an Update on the New York State Regulations as presented by a representative from the Department of Environmental Conservation:

  • Beginning January 1, 2012, use of a phosphorus fertilizer on lawns or non-agricultural turf is restricted.
  • Application of any fertilizer on lawns or non-agricultural turf is prohibited between December 1 and April 1.
  • Application of any fertilizer on lawns or non-agricultural turf within 20 feet of a water body or on paved surfaces is restricted.

Distributors must display phosphorus fertilizer separately from phosphorus-free fertilizers and must post signs notifying customers of the terms of the laws.

Fertilizer labels have three bold numbers. We all know that the number in the middle is the percentage of phosphorus in the product.

The law allows an end user to continue to use phosphorus fertilizer on lawn and non-agricultural turf after January 1, 2012 if that fertilizer was purchased prior to the effective date of the law.

Fertilizers that are derived from composts may be applied to all turf sites between April 1st and November 30th, except within 20 feet of surface water. Despite flying under the radar, so to speak, most compost fertilizers (especially poultry litter-based fertilizers) often contain the highest amounts of contaminating phosphorous and contribute to leaching and run-off. We’re confident Nature Safe would fall under this compost exemption as well, but would not leach like manure derived products.

The most important message is to know your local laws as they can differ from county to county. Known restrictions in New York are as follows:

  • Suffolk County: No fertilizer application between November 1 and April 1.
  • Nassau County: No fertilizer application between November 15 and April 1.
  • Westchester County: Fertilizer must be zero phosphorus.
  • Chautauqua County: Fertilizer must be zero phosphorus. There’s no exception for 10 foot vegetative buffer or controlled application of the spreader which would be used within 20 feet of surface water.

New York is not the only state with phosphorous restrictions. New Jersey, Minnesota, Maine, Wisconsin and Florida have adopted lawn fertilizer reduction programs as well. You may want to further investigate the laws in these regions to see if there is an opportunity to introduce your customers to our zero phosphorous product line.

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