John Palumbo, lawn and garden supervisor at Shore True Value Hardware in Somers Point, said fertilizer suppliers already have switched the store’s old stock with new bags that meet state regulations. 'We heard about (the law) last year, that it was coming, but it was just recently that Scotts informed us that the state of New Jersey is doing away with (phosphorus),' he said.
- New Jersey fertilizer regulations
What the law means for homeowners
Fertilizers sold legally in New Jersey must meet certain criteria, with phosphorous banned from general turf blends and at least 20 percent of the nitrogen required to be ‘slow-releasing.’ Fertilizer containing phosphorus can be sold only if the material is not used on turf or is for re-establishing turf. Bags sold in New Jersey also will have new labeling requirements that tell users how to apply the material and to use lesser amounts. It will be illegal to apply fertilizer prior to or during a heavy rain, to apply fertilizer during the winter months, to leave fertilizer on pavement and other hard surfaces or to apply excessive amounts of fertilizer. Municipalities can fine violators. Homeowners can use phosphorus-containing fertilizer on their lawns if they have had a soil test within the past three years that shows a deficiency or if they are establishing new grass.
What it means for landscapers, golf courses and hardware stores
Last year, landscapers and professional fertilizer appliers were required to undergo comprehensive training. Turf managers at golf courses and turf farms are exempt from the training classes provided they could pass the exam, because workers in those industries already are considered to be highly educated in appropriate practices, said James Murphy, turf management specialist with Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Stores selling fertilizer generally were informed by their suppliers that blends would be switching and that it would be illegal to sell turf fertilizer that did not meet the new guidelines. It also is illegal to apply fertilizer during the nongrowing season, which is different depending on the area of the state.
Why the law exists
Work on the fertilizer law began years ago as an effort to reduce nutrient pollution in Barnegat Bay. The state Legislature approved the law in late 2010 and Gov. Chris Christie signed it Jan. 5, 2011. The law is aimed at improving water quality throughout the state and especially in Barnegat Bay, which has suffered from severe degradation due to stormwater runoff in the watershed that contained high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. In general, phosphorus negatively affects freshwater ecosystems, while nitrogen negatively affects saltwater and brackish ecosystems.
The law is supposed to be enforced by municipalities, according to the text of the legislation. Professional fertilizer appliers can be fined $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for subsequent violations, according to the law. Homeowners or nonprofessional fertilizer appliers or retailers can be fined under the law, but it is up to the municipality to set the amount. If municipalities already have fertilizer ordinances in place, the state standards now supersede those set by the municipalities.
Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013 1:45 am
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Saturday, January 5, 2013 1:45 am.