Monday, January 28, 2013

Maryland Proposes Lawn Fertilzer Regulations

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced that new regulations for lawn fertilizer applications along with proposed changes to Maryland’s non-agricultural commercial fertilizer application requirements were published in today’s Maryland Register. MDA will offer a 30-day public comment period ending February 25.

“Lawn fertilizer accounts for approximately 44 percent of the fertilizer sold in Maryland,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “While Maryland farmers are required to follow nutrient management plans when fertilizing their fields, additional stakeholder involvement by both lawn care professionals and homeowners is needed if Maryland is to meet new nutrient reduction goals outlined in its Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) to restore the Bay.”
Significant provisions of the proposed regulations (in green).
Establishes a training, certification and licensing program for lawn care professionals
Oh goody, a new rent seeking interest group, dependent on increasing regulations.
Requires lawn care professionals to obtain soil tests for each new customer and once every three years thereafter
At least this will put some chemists to use, doing worthless tests.
Establishes maximum application rates for nitrogen, water soluble nitrogen and enhanced efficiency controlled release fertilizer
And what will be the enforcement involved in making sure that individual homeowners abide by these restrictions, and what penalties will be imposed for violations?  The new Dept. of Lawn Care?  Will they have assault weapons?
 Establishes application guidelines for natural organic or organic products containing phosphorus
Giving preference to one form of an element over another?  The Chesapeake Bay plankton don't care what form the nutrients are in.  They will use them.  This is just  politically correct bow to the misnamed (and misguided) "organic everything" movement.
 Requires both homeowners and professionals to use best management practices when applying fertilizer, observe fertilizer blackout dates and follow University of Maryland recommendations when fertilizing lawns
Again, what are the enforcement provisions?  Are they going to send enforcement agents driving around the suburbs after the blackout dates, or merely rely on snitches?
Prohibits lawn care professionals and homeowners from applying lawn fertilizer to impervious surfaces or frozen ground and establishes setbacks next to waterways
I confess; I have sinned! I have used fertilizer to deice my driveway on rare occasions.  In my defense, all the fertilizer would run off into my lawn, and any not absorbed by the lawn would have run off into the forest buffer behind my house.
30-Day Public Comment Period Open through February 25. The proposed changes as submitted to the Maryland Register are available on MDA’s website at: Comments may be sent to Jo A. Mercer, Ed.D., Administrator, Nutrient Management Program, Maryland Department of Agriculture, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401. Dr. Mercer may also be contacted at 410-841-5959, or Faxes may be sent to her attention at 410-841-5950. Comments will be accepted through February 25, 2013. A public hearing has not been scheduled.

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