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Lawn Care Ban

A bill making its way through Trenton would ban many lawn care products on the shelf today. The bill would limit the nitrogen in turf fertilizers to a level exceeded by nearly every product on the market. It also would regulate when and where fertilizer could be used. Called the most comprehensive and prohibitive legislation of its kind in the nation, the bill calls for a sea change in the way New Jersey Landscape Contractors apply fertilizer to lawns. The bill comes out of a package of legislation intended to restore Barnegat Bay, heavily polluted by fertilizer runoff, but its impact would be statewide.

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The most contentious part of the bill limits the amount and type of nitrogen in fertilizer to a level that can't be met by any of the products currently offered by the world's largest lawn care retailer.

''For that standard to be met, every product on the market would need to change,'' said Chris Wible, director of environmental stewardship for Scotts Miracle-Gro Company.

The bill also bans phosphorus to maintain lawns, a move that has already been made by many lawn care companies. It would also ban anyone from applying fertilizer to turf:

Fertilizer with phosphorus would be allowed when establishing or repairing turf or if required after a state-sanctioned soil test.

At least 30 percent of nitrogen in fertilizer would have to be ''slow-release'' to allow less runoff.

Golf courses would be allowed to apply fertilizer up to the very base of a water body. Everywhere else it's 10 feet.

Commercial farms would be exempt from the bill.

Any ''professional fertilizer applicator'' who violates the bill could be fined up to $2,500 for the first offense and up to $5,000 for each subsequent offense. All others would be fined $250 for the first offense and up to $500 thereafter.

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June 18, 2019, 6:35 pm PDT

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