Here is a vote yes fact sheet on the lawn fertilizer bill, S-1411 and A-2290

Vote ‘YES’ on S-1411 / A-2290 – the Lawn Fertilizer Bill

The prime sponsors is Senator Bob Smith and Assemblyman John McKeon.

Vote ‘YES’ on Senator Smith’s and Assemblyman John McKeon’s proposed amendments.

What the bill does:

The bill requires that all lawn fertilizer sold or used in the State of New Jersey contain at least 20% of its nitrogen in slow release (water insoluble) form. It requires manufacturers to label their bags such that only 0.9 lbs. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn will be applied.

The bill bans phosphorus in fertilizer, a step toward which some manufacturers are already moving.

The bill requires all professional lawn fertilizer applicators to be certified by the state.

The bill bans application of fertilizer before March 1 and after November 15 for homeowners and after December 1 for lawn care professionals. The bill prohibits application of fertilizer within 25 feet of water bodies if no spreader guard is used and within 10 feet if a spreader guard is used.

What the bill does not do:

Golf courses are exempted except that managers must be certified. Fertilizer made from sewage sludge is exempted. Professional applicators are held to a less stringent standard than homeowners because they are professionally trained. The bill does not affect agriculture in any way.

Why the bill is needed:

New Jersey’s salt water estuaries are gravely threatened by excessive nitrogen, and New Jersey’s fresh water rivers, streams, and lakes are gravely threatened by excessive phosphorus. Lawn fertilizer, which is one of the sources of excess nitrogen and phosphorus, is specially designed to promote plant growth and therefore helps promote algal blooms that threaten the health of all New Jersey waters. The bill meets Rutgers’ best management practices.

What is remarkable about this bill:

As the only law in the country that would address not only labeling but content (i.e., the requirement that 20% of the nitrogen be in slow release form, and the ban on phosphorus) this bill, if passed, will become the model for all other states.

Environmentalists have bent over backward to be reasonable:

Grass grows perfectly well with 100% slow release nitrogen, and yet we are now asking only for 20%. Our original request was for 30%. This is more than reasonable considering the crisis that Barnegat Bay and most other estuaries and lakes face. The bill gives professional applicators significant exemptions. Water soluble fertilizer functions primarily to make grass turn green very rapidly after an application. This is a choice between how fast your lawn turns green after you apply fertilizer versus whether our lakes, rivers, and estuaries are given a chance to survive.

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