For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- In an effort to reduce the amount of harmful nutrients entering local water bodies, an ordinance regulating the use of fertilizer in unincorporated Martin County will be in effect from June 1 to Sept. 30.
The ordinance is seen as a crucial step towards improving and maintaining water and habitat quality. Fertilizers containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus cannot be used on turf, sod, lawns or landscape plants during the period of the ordinance, which extends during the four-month rainy season.
The ordinance was approved in 2011 by the Martin County Board of County Commissioners as part of their ongoing effort to improve water quality in Martin County's waterways. Martin County is among a growing number of local governments with similar regulations.
The ordinance applies to anyone -- personal or professional -- landscaping in unincorporated Martin County. It does provide exemptions for agriculture, golf courses and specialized turf, such as athletic fields. The ordinance requires the registration and training of both professional landscapers and institutional landscapers, and sets best-management landscape and fertilizer practices.
Training for landscapers will be provided through the University of Florida Martin County Extension Service.
Beginning June 1, fertilizer containing phosphorus and nitrogen is limited. Fertilizer use is also prohibited within 10 feet of water bodies, including wetlands and seawalls. And if you use a fertilizer spreader, you are required to have a deflector shield to prevent nutrient spread into water body buffers and impervious surfaces.
In addition, vegetative material, including grass clippings, cannot be washed, swept, or blown into stormwater flow-ways, water bodies or impervious areas.
All commercial and institutional applicators within the unincorporated area of Martin County are required to successfully complete the Green Industries Best Management Practices Program training and apply for certification by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services prior to obtaining a Local Business Tax Certificate for any occupation which may apply any fertilizer to turf and/or landscape plants.
The adopted ordinance and information on how to apply fertilizer in an environmentally-friendly manner year-round may be viewed on Martin County's website at www.martin.fl.us.