Specifically, the law decreases the total amount of nitrogen in fertilizer and increases the amount of slow release nitrogen to 20 percent. In addition, it requires no phosphorus in fertilizer unless a soil test indicates it is needed.
Nitrogen and Phosphorus are nutrients required for plant growth. A limited amount of these nutrients is important for healthy plant life. An overabundance, however, not only can harm lawns, but when washed into our waterways, stimulates excessive algae and weed growth. This in turn depletes oxygen from the water and reduces the sunlight needed for healthy aquatic life.
Other key components of the new law include: the creation of a fertilizer application certification program for professional fertilizer applicators and public education on correct fertilizer use.
Phase II: Effective January 5, 2012, all professional applicators will be required to undergo training and become certified through the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University. Rutgers University is in the process of developing the training program in consultation with the department’s Healthy Lawns Healthy Water workgroup.
Phase III: Effective January 5, 2013, all fertilizer product for turf must contain at least 20 percent slow-release nitrogen, and zero phosphorus unless a soil test demonstrates a need for more.