Page 6 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • August 26, 2009 Franklin Lakes New ordinance will regulate fertilizer application by Frank J. McMahon An ordinance that will regulate how fertilizer can be applied has been introduced by the Franklin Lakes Council. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has mandated that all municipalities adopt an ordinance regulating the application of fertilizer as part of their municipal storm water permits. This ordinance will regulate the outdoor application of fertilizer to reduce the overall amount of excess nutrients entering the municipality’s 20 lakes, streams, and ponds as listed in the borough’s environmental resource inventory, many of which are listed as impaired. The ordinance also points out that the borough relies heavily on privately and publicly sourced well water for its drinking supply and, therefore, it benefits the town to protect its natural resources. The regulations do not apply to application of fertilizer on commercial farms, but improper application of fertilizer on farms would also be problematic, according to the ordinance, which emphasizes that stewardship on the part of commercial farmers is needed to address this potential source of excess nutrient load to water bodies. In the ordinance, fertilizer is defined as a fertilizer material, mixed fertilizer, or any other substance containing one or more recognized plant nutrients used for plant nutrient content, and which is designed for use or claimed to have value in promoting plant growth. The ordinance explains that elevated levels of nutrients, particularly phosphorus, in surface water bodies can result in excessive and accelerated growth of algae and aquatic plants, which can be detrimental to aquatic life. As algae and plant materials die, the ordinance explains, the decay process creates a further demand on dissolved oxygen levels and the presence of excessive plant matter can restrict the use of the affected water. It further explains that, while healthy vegetated areas protect water quality by stabilizing soil and filtering precipitation, when fertilizers are applied to the land surface improperly, or in excess of the needs of the vegetation, nutrients can be transported by means of storm water to nearby waterways, contributing to the problematic growth of excessive aquatic vegetation. “Most soils in New Jersey contain sufficient amounts of phosphorus to support adequate root growth for established turf,” the ordinance states. “Over time, it is necessary to replenish available phosphorus but generally not at the levels commonly applied. Other vegetation, such as vegetable gardens and agricultural and horticultural plantings, will have a greater need for phosphorus application, as will the repair or establishment of new lawns or cover vegetation.” A soil test and a fertilizer application geared to the soil and planting type is recommended by the ordinance as the best means to determine the amount of nutrients to apply. In addition, the timing and placement of the fertilizer application is critical to avoid transport of nutrients to waterways through storm water runoff. For instance, the ordinance states that fertilizer applied immediately prior to a runoff-producing rainfall, outside the growing season, or to impervious surfaces, is most likely to be carried away by means of runoff without accomplishing the desired objective of supporting the growth of the vegetation. Therefore, management of the type, amount, and techniques for fertilizer application is necessary as one tool to protect water resources. The ordinance contains several prohibitions relating to the application of fertilizer. It prohibits anyone from applying fertilizer when a runoff producing rainfall is occurring or predicted and when soils are saturated and a potential for fertilizer movement off-site exists. It also prohibits applying fertilizer to an impervious surface and not removing it from that surface or returned to either its original or another appropriate container for reuse, and it prohibits applying fertilizer within the buffer of any water body or more than 15 days prior to the start of, or at any time after the end of, the recognized growing season for this area, which the USDA has identified as the period between March 1 to Nov. 15. The application of phosphorus fertilizer in outdoor areas, except where it is demonstrated to be needed for the specific soils and target vegetation in accordance with a soils test and the associated annual fertilizer recommendation issued by Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension, is prohibited with several exceptions. Those exceptions include applications needed to: establish vegetation for the first time, such as (continued on page 23) Finally... a hearing device you’ll want to wear. Visit our office and try Dual for FREE! Call 201-934-7755 today to learn more. © 2008 Oticon, Inc. All rights reserved. Dual: Engineered for performance, designed for style. Dual is the most advanced hearing instrument on the market today. 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