Fertilizers and Nutrients
|BMPs - Best Management Practices should
be the basis for determining fertilizer and nutrient practices.
- Nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, phosphate, and
sulfur compounds derived from fertilizers and animal wastes, play
a vital role in agriculture. Large amounts are used in residential
Over the years, fertilizers have contributed to increased farm
production and more attractive lawns. If not managed carefully, however,
commercial fertilizer and livestock manure are potential sources
nitrate/nitrogen in groundwater. Nitrate levels above federal and
state drinking water standards have been found in the majority of wells
springs tested in some karst areas.
- Excessive nutrients in drinking
water can pose a health risk
to young children as well as young livestock. Increased levels of
nutrients can also add to water pollution by causing an overgrowth
of algae and
other vegetation, leading to a loss of beneficial oxygen in aquatic
habitats and water supplies.
- Improperly managed fertilizers can release
nutrients into groundwater after a leak, spill, or over-application.
Both surface waters and groundwater
are less likely to be contaminated if appropriate fertilizer management
and handling procedures are followed.
|When mowing, cut 1/3 of the height of the grass blade. Leave
clippings on the yard as a natural fertilizer and mulch.
Testing the Soil
- The first step before adding nutrients or fertilizer
to your lawn, trees, or fields is to have a sample of your soil
tested by the
Agricultural Extension Service. This test will tell you which
nutrients are already in the soil. You also should get an estimate
of the soil
thickness or depth to bedrock across the site by using a soil
probe or similar device.
BMPs for Lawns and Gardens
- Use yard compost as a natural fertilizer
- Use fertilizer only when necessary
- Follow the directions on the fertilizer
- Select the correct fertilizer based on your soil test
- Apply the correct
amount - too much can damage fragile plant roots and groundwater.
- Apply the fertilizer at the proper stage in the plant's life cycle
for Agricultural Enterprises
- Apply fertilizer based on realistic
yield or growth expectations of the crop to be grown.
- Monitor nutrient
levels of soil and plant tissue, as well as irrigation water,
and springs or well water.
- Determine and credit the contribution of non-commercial
fertilizer nutrients from legumes, manure, and compost.
the appropriate timing and application methods for fertilizer
to reduce runoff and leaching losses.
- Properly calibrate and operate fertilizer
- Evaluate field limitations based on environmental
hazards such as sinkholes, highly erodible soils, shallow aquifers,
to bedrock, and nearby surface waters.