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Florida Fertilizer Regulation

Last year, Naples, Fla. officials passed a law requiring at least one supervisor and 10 percent of employees of a landscaping business working in the city to attend a mandatory education program.

Over the past decade, as Florida's population bloomed, its consumption of fertilizer quadrupled. The amount of fertilizer applied to lawns and golf courses in Lee County grew from 5,238 tons in 1998 to 21,989 tons in 2007, according to figures from the Florida Department of Agriculture. In Collier County, fertilizer use grew from 5,343 tons in 1997 to 20,239 tons in 2007. The state collected information based on the fiscal year, which runs from June to July.

Fertilizer runoff causes blooms of red drift and blue green algae to grow in lakes and estuaries, scientists say.

The problem is prompting local governments to regulate fertilizers. Some cities, such as Sanibel and Sarasota, drafted strict ordinances restricting the use of fertilizers by landscaping businesses.

Collier County officials recently considered regulations but commissioners declined to adopt them. Lee County recently drafted a resolution of its own, which regulates fertilizer use by landscaping professionals. It also requires them to attend training sessions and attain certification.

Other areas along the watershed could do Sanibel a favor by adopting an ordinance like the city's, which prohibits using fertilizer during the months of July, August and September, when summer rains can flush nutrients from lawns and into watersheds. Fertilization is least necessary during the rainy season.

Kurt Harclerode, operations manager for Lee Natural Resources said, "Our goal is to begin the process with those in the industry and let them be the leaders."


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August 23, 2019, 1:32 pm PDT

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