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Green Industries Best Management Practices

The Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMPs) were established in response to community concerns about water quality and water quantity issues in Florida. The GI-BMPs teach environmentally safe landscaping practices that help conserve and protect Florida’s ground and surface waters.

The goal of the GI-BMPs is to educate citizens on how to reduce non-point source pollution and use water efficiently. Non-point source (NPS) pollution is both air and water pollution that comes from diffuse sources. Diffuse sources means that pollutants come from large spread out areas and therefore a single source cannot be identified. The program was designed as a water quality and water conservation program. It considers practices in the landscape and how to improve practices to prevent runoff and leaching of chemicals and fertilizers into water bodies. The main focus of GI-BMP training is:

  • Reducing off-site transport of sediments, nutrients and pesticides by runoff to surface water or leaching to ground water.
  • Using appropriate site design and plant selection by using the right plant in the right place ensuring healthy plants.
  • Using appropriate rates and methods of applying fertilizer and irrigation to prevent pollution, conserve water, and promote healthy plants.
  • Using integrated pest management to prevent and minimize pests, and apply chemicals only after the cause of pest problems has been determined and other options have been considered.

The UF/IFAS Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program delivers this science based program to Green Industry professionals, homeowners, homebuilders and developers.  The program is a partnership between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, water management districts, the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department and the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology.

The audience for the program is primarily those in the landscape maintenance and management industry. Anyone who designs or maintains landscapes, hardscapes or irrigation systems, applies fertilizers or pesticides, sells landscape plants and products, manages landscape property, considers starting a horticulture business, or has a role as a landscape educator or regulator should be GIBMP certified.

Florida law SB494 requires all commercial or for hire fertilizer applicators, or anyone supervising fertilizer applications to have a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) fertilizer license. The license is called the Limited Certification for Urban Landscape Commercial Fertilizer. To obtain this license every worker that applies or supervises the application of fertilizer must:

  • Receive GI-BMP training,
  • Score a minimum of 75% on a test following the training,
  • Receive a GI-BMP certificate of completion issued by UF/IFAS and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and
  • Apply to FDACS for the fertilizer license.

The license fee is $25 and is valid for 4 years. The license requires 4 continuing education units to renew that must be approved for 2 General Standards Chapter 482 Core and 2 Limited Urban Fertilizer.

Many counties and municipalities have a landscape and fertilizer ordinance that contains specific rules and exemptions for anyone maintaining landscapes and/or applying fertilizer to landscapes, including residents maintaining their own lawns.

For more information contact your UF/IFAS Extension County office. In Hillsborough County, contact Susan Haddock at (813)744-5519 ext. 54103 or email: szcrmchz@ufl.edu.