Protecting the Chesapeake Bay - Goal of a New Law: Maryland's Fertilizer Use Act of 2011
Fourteen (14%) percent of the nitrogen and eight (8%) of the phosphorus entering the Chesapeake Bay can be traced to non-agricultural urban and suburban sources - mainly lawns.
The Fertilizer Use Act of 2011, a Maryland environmental law is designed to reduce the impact of nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Chesapeake Bay.
The Fertilizer Use Act of 2011:
- Establishes a period (between November 15 and March 1) when fertilizer should not be applied to lawns.
- Establishes a buffer strip requirement that may not receive nitrogen fertilizer for properties next to open water.
- Sets limits for amounts of phosphorus in lawn products sold to the public.
- Establishes a training, certification, and licensing program for those who apply fertilizer commercially.
- Requires the implementation of a homeowner education program about Best Management Practices.
- Prohibits fertilizer labeled for use on turf to be labeled for use as a de-icer (ice-melt).
- Includes penalties for violations.
Provisions of the Fertilizer Use Act that Apply to Homeowners and Do-it-yourselfers:
Homeowners and do-it-yourselfers will be required to follow University of Maryland guidelines when fertilizing lawns, gardens and landscape areas. These guidelines will be promoted through a public education program that will include information on best management practices to follow when using fertilizers, soil testing information, and how to read and follow a fertilizer label. The following provisions of the law apply to homeowners and do-it-yourselfers:
- Prohibits using lawn fertilizer on impervious surfaces;
- Prohibits using fertilizer:
- Between November 15 and March 1
- When the ground is frozen
- Within 10 to 15 feet of waterways, depending on the method of application;
- Restricts the amount of phosphorus applied to turf, with allowances when soil tests indicate low or medium phosphorus levels or when the homeowner is establishing a new lawn or repairing or reestablishing a lawn;
- Establishes maximum application rates for total nitrogen and water soluble nitrogen; and
- Establishes maximum application rates for enhanced efficiency controlled-release products.
A county, municipality or the MDA may enforce these requirements for homeowners.
For the full Fact Sheet PDF: http://www.mda.state.md.us/pdf/FertilizerLaw_Facts_final.pdf
For more information on HB 573: http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/billfile/HB0573.htm