guy spreading fertilizer

Fertilizer Spill? The BMPs Say Clean It Up!

fertilizer spill Most urban landscapes are surrounded by impervious surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways and streets. An impervious surface that drains to a water body or the stormwater system is called a Directly Connected Impervious Area (DCIA). Fertilizer inadvertently applied on these surfaces has ready access to  water resources through storm drains. This is why it is so important to keep fertilizer off impervious surfaces and to remove any that is spilled on them and deposit it back into the landscape. A best management practice is to always sweep or blow any fertilizer left on impervious areas back into a vegetated area.

Other fertilizer BMPs:

  • Do not fertilize if a heavy rainfall is expected.
  • Remember that all fertilizers, even slow release products, contain nutrients and can cause pollution if allowed to escape the root zone.
  • Be sure fertilizer is the correct response to the problem.
  • Application of phosphorous requires soil testing to demonstrate need.
  • Wait to apply fertilizer for establishment to 30 days after seeding/sodding/planting.
  • Do not add N or P before installation, but amend the soil as needed with lime or organic matter.
  • Always leave a buffer area near water bodies or impervious surfaces. Always use deflector shields on broadcast or rotary spreaders when applying fertilizer near water or sidewalks, driveways and streets.
  • Know the exact square footage of the area where fertilizer is being applied and make sure the spreader/application equipment is properly calibrated and set to deliver the correct amount of fertilizer to that area.
  • When fertilizing (other than when watering restrictions apply), irrigate with 1/4 inch of water following fertilization to avoid the loss of nitrogen and increase uptake efficiency. If water restrictions apply, you may irrigate as you are allowed, but more than 1/2 inch may cause some nitrogen to be leached past the root zone.
  • There is no significant difference between liquid or dry applications of similar products. In terms of BMPs for environmental protection, the proper application of fertilizer is more important than the type of product.

To become certified in Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) and/or to obtain the Limited Urban Fertilizer License, register here for our upcoming GI-BMP class on Tuesday, December 4th at the UF/IFAS Extension Orange County, Orlando.