By Lloyd Singleton
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of hosting 22 landscape professionals in a full day training known as the “Green Industries Best Management Practices”, or GIBMP for short. These eager learners were exposed to modules on Pesticides, Fertilizers, Irrigation, Lawn & Landscapes, and most importantly, an overview of watersheds and non-point source pollution. Non-point what you ask? The source of water pollution that comes from diverse sources, such as lawns, landscapes and roadways is called non-point source pollution, and it is a problem.
We all contribute to it, even unwittingly. Oil leaks from a car, grass clippings left on the street, fertilizers not watered in; all these things end up as pollutants in our water. Rainfall and excessive irrigation will move sediments across impervious surfaces (roads, driveways, sidewalks, rooftops, compacted soils) right to the storm drains on our streets. Storm water gets treated and filtered, right? No, it doesn’t. It flows directly to the ponds, lakes, streams and rivers near our homes and businesses.
Eventually, all of these waterbodies are connected to our aquifer, the source of our shared drinking water. Hence, the term watershed. We all share a watershed; what you do affects my drinking water and vice versa. With nearly 1000 people a day moving into our great state, we all need to become more aware of the pollutants we contribute and take steps to reduce them. The landscape industry is doing its part with this GIBMP training, a requirement for the certificate required for anyone using fertilizer commercially in an urban landscape setting.
This certificate has been mandated for commercial fertilizer applicators since January, 2014 and is issued by FDACS-AES, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Bureau of Licensing and Enforcement. It costs the fertilizer applicator $25 every four years, with continuing education required for renewal. This continuing education is important as science-based research reveals new methods and standards for landscape practices.
The training was developed as a partnership with landscape industry experts and scientists, UF/IFAS (University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) and the FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection). The training includes the nine principles of FFL (Florida-Friendly Landscaping™).
How you can reduce your contribution to non-point source water pollution:
- Use only “slow-release” fertilizers on turf; established trees and shrubs rarely need any
- After applying fertilizer, blow off any excess back into the grass
- Water in with ¼” of irrigation water to move the nutrient into the root zone
- Don’t collect grass clippings; use a mulching mower to let them fall and recycle in place
- Blow any clippings back into the landscape, never down the storm drain
- Direct any gutter downspouts to a landscape bed, not to a hard surface like driveways
- Test your rain sensor to make sure it is working to bypass irrigation when we’ve had rain
Over 41,000 individuals have successfully completed the GIBMP training in the state, with more than 700 from Lake County. Each of these participants are issued a certificate and wallet card; they will be proud to show it off, just ask! If they aren’t GIBMP certified, send them our way to get on the list for our next training class. www.lake.ifas.ufl.edu
Together, we all contribute to non-point source pollution; together we can reduce this and preserve our clean drinking water for all to share.