21 Aug 2014
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N.J. Officials: Use The Correct Fertilizer This Spring

Residents urged to use fertilizer that complies with state laws

N.J. Officials: Use The Correct Fertilizer This Spring
New Jersey officials are urging state residents to use fertilizers that comply with environmental standards and stick with licensed and trained commercial lawn services.

The Garden State has what is widely considered the nation's toughest law restricting nitrogen and phosphorus content in lawn fertilizer, which was spurred by a push early in the administration of Gov. Chris Christie to improve the health of state waterways, especially Barnegat Bay in Ocean County.

“An overabundance of nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer can hurt lawns and plants, stimulate algae and weed growth in our waterways through stormwater runoff and ultimately choke healthy aquatic life," said state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin in a statement.

When searching for a fertilizer or pesticide service, the DEP is urging residents to ensure that their contractor complies with licensing and safety standards. Professional pesticide applicators for weed, termite and household pest controls are licensed through the DEP’s Pesticide Control Program and are required to carry a license when applying pesticides

Similarly, fertilizer applicators and lawn care providers are required to undergo training and become certified through the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University.

For those residents who plan on purchasing their own fertilizer this spring, products for turf must contain at least 20 percent slow-release nitrogen, and zero phosphorus, unless a soil test demonstrates a need for more. Consumers should check the first and second number on the package for nitrogen and phosphate content. For example, formula "26-0-3" means no phosphate.

The purchase and proper use of this new, reformulated fertilizer can help reduce the amount of nitrogen that can enter a waterway, officials say. The DEP has also urged residents to avoid applying fertilizer before heavy rain is forecast.

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