Recently, Jonathan Green met with the Healthy Lawns & Clean Water group in Trenton, New Jersey. We have been working with this group for the last few years helping to shape the new fertilizer laws for lawns that will go into effect in January 2012. This group includes members from New Jersey, the Department of Environmental Protection, Rutgers University, NJ Golf Course Association, NJ Green Industry Council, Save Barnegat Bay and many other “Green Industry” suppliers, associates and environmental groups. The NJ Fertilizer Law, A2290, was created to protect New Jersey’s surface and ground waters from impairment by minimizing nitrogen and phosphorous content in lawn fertilizers.
Governor Chris Christie signed this bill in January 2011 with many components going into effect in January 2012. Now the challenge is to obtain a high level of public education concerning this law. Remember when the recycling laws went into effect in the 1970’s? It probably took up to 10 years for most of the citizens of New Jersey to understand that they have to recycle certain items for the program to be effective. Certainly we hope it does not take this long for everyone to understand the new NJ fertilizer law. In the next six months you will probably see updates on this law from many sources. There will be press releases to local newspapers, perhaps newsletters from your local town, brochures from lawn fertilizer suppliers, signs in retail stores selling lawn fertilizers, Rutgers extension office notices and the Gardener News.
There are a number of states that already have some laws restricting certain lawn fertilizers. It seems that New Jersey is a leader with some of the strictest laws in the land. Many surrounding states are considering similar language as they shape or update their laws. These states include Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and perhaps Delaware. This would provide a somewhat uniform law for these states whose waterways contribute to the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Commission was formed to help address both fertilizer content and behavioral changes for both residential and commercial fertilizer use on lawns. The various suppliers of fertilizers have already started making the changes to their formulations and packaging in order to comply with the upcoming laws and their implementation dates.
Commercial applicators of lawn fertilizers will be required to obtain a fertilizer applicators license. This will include a training module and test most likely taken online through Rutgers University. There are “black-out” dates when commercial fertilizer applicators cannot apply any product after December 1st or before March 1st. Residential homeowner “black-out” dates are from November 15ththrough March 1st. In 2012 no lawn fertilizer can contain phosphorous unless the product is listed as a new seeding or starter-type fertilizer on the package. Jonathan Green recognized the need to have phosphorus free fertilizers years ago and has several fertilizers available that contain no phosphorus. Green-Up Lawn Fertilizer and Natural Beauty Lawn Fertilizer are just some of the no-phosphorus fertilizers Jonathan Green carries. If you are establishing turf from grass seed or sod and vegetation for the first time or repairing or re-establishing turf you may use a product that contains phosphorous like Jonathan Green New Seeding Lawn Fertilizer. Phosphorous is listed as the middle number on all fertilizer bags, such as Jonathan Green Natural Beauty Lawn Fertilizer 10-0-1; the “0” is the phosphorous content. Certain lawn fertilizers will be exempt from this no-phosphorous law if the phosphorous is derived from bio-solids, manipulated animal and/or plant manures and organics sources. The other exemption would be if you took a soil test, within the last three years, showing your soil has a deficiency in phosphorous, you can then apply a fertilizer containing phosphorous. This will be the norm for most new seeding type fertilizers like Jonathan Green New Seeding Lawn Fertilizer which has the formula 12-18-8 where the phosphorus content is higher. Phosphorous is recognized as an important component to establish turfgrass root systems.
Jonathan Green recommends that you follow Best Management Practices (BMP) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) guidelines when carrying for your lawn and yard. This includes following a sound lawn care program and monitoring pests in order to properly address them as needed with minimal environmental impact. For more detailed information on the NJ Fertilizer Law visitwww.cleanwaternj.org and www.njaes.rutgers.edu.