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New Jersey Fertilizer Law Causing Problems

New Jersey’s new Fertilizer Law is considered the toughest in the nation; it sets new limits on the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that can be used on lawns and restricts the times when fertilizer can be applied.

Due to an early growing season and a timing hiccup affecting the certification process, some landscape contractors were unable to pursue business as usual until they receive a newaccreditation mandated by New Jersey law.

The hiccup came because the certification training (administered by the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station) required taking an online test at the end, and that test was unavailable until late February. With temperatures more like early summer than early spring, the spring work season caused a last-minute scramble among landscape contractors seeking accreditation.

“It was a little disorganized,” said Richard Goldstein, the president of Green Meadows landscaping in Oakland. “I took the course and then it was 72 hours before Rutgers released my name to take the test.”

By mid-April, some 1,200 landscapers had passed the test, according to James Murphy, a specialist in turf grass management, who heads the Rutgers accreditation program.

The amount of nitrogen that consumers can use is limited to 0.9 pounds on 1,000 square feet of ground per application, and 3.2 pounds per 1,000 square feet for the year. That is a 10 percent reduction, said Mr. Buechner, explaining that the previous limit was a pound. (Professionals can apply up to a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 feet in each application, and are not to exceed 4.25 pounds for the year.)

Cracking Down
Cracking down on the use of fertilizers became the focus of New Jersey legislators about three years ago, when environmental activists warned that Barnegat Bay was dying, in part from the pollution caused by runoff lawn fertilizer.

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June 18, 2019, 6:46 pm PDT

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