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HomeAt Home & BeyondDr. Lester, UF IFAS Extension, explains Hernando County’s Revised Fertilizer Ordinance

Dr. Lester, UF IFAS Extension, explains Hernando County’s Revised Fertilizer Ordinance

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Weeki Wachee Springs, an Outstanding Florida Spring (OFS), is currently impaired by nitrates, with nitrate levels steadily increasing over the years. To address this issue, the State enacted the Springs and Aquifer Protection Act in 2016, setting goals for restoring the OFS within 20 years. In 2018, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection established a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) to tackle the rising nitrate levels and identify major sources of nitrogen contributing to the spring. According to the BMAP, urban turf fertilizers account for 22% of the nitrogen affecting the spring. In light of these developments, the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners passed the following amendments to the existing fertilizer ordinance.

Changes to the Fertilizer Ordinance:

1. Expanded Seasonal Restrictions:
• Prohibition of urban turf fertilizers containing nitrogen from December 15 to March 15 and from June 1 to September 30.
• This extension aims to further reduce nitrogen runoff during critical periods, contributing to the restoration of Weeki Wachee Springs.

2. Removal of Exemption for Commercial Applicators:
• Previously, commercial applicators were exempt from certain provisions of the fertilizer ordinance. This exemption has been removed.
• This change ensures that commercial applicators are held to the same standards as other stakeholders, promoting responsible fertilizer application practices across the board.

3. Increased Distance for Fertilizer Use Adjacent to Wetlands and Surface Waters:
• The updated amendments increased the distance from wetlands and surface waters where fertilizers can be applied from the previous 10 feet to 25 feet.
• This expansion aims to create a wider buffer zone, further reducing the potential for nutrient runoff and protecting water quality.

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4. Requirement for Posting County-Provided Signage:
• Businesses that sell fertilizers during the restriction period would be obligated to display signage provided by the County stating the seasonal restrictions.
• This provision helps raise awareness among the public and promotes compliance with the revised fertilizer ordinance.

Your University of Florida Extension Office in Hernando County is here to help answer all of your lawn and garden questions. If you have specific questions, feel free to send an email with pictures to [email protected] or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HernandoExt to find out about all our upcoming activities.

UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County is a free service that provides solutions for your life.
Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, or national origin.

Dr. William Lester
Dr. William Lester
Dr. Bill Lester works for the University of Florida IFAS Extension Service in Hernando County as the Urban/Commercial Horticulture Agent.
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