A number of communities in Florida have placed a ban on fertilizing lawns, gardens and golf courses during the wettest times of the year. The ban is an effort to reduce nitrogen and phosphate pollution in the watershed, but results of a seven year University of Florida study show that when applied at the appropriate times and rates, Florida foliage utilizes enough of the N&P applied to nearly eliminate runoff completely.
A recent report from WBBH Florida News Channel 2 says the current science does not reflect the reality of the situation. In fact, the study believes excess runoff can be managed by simply applying the correct amount of N&P, and that an all out ban is not necessary.
Local golf courses and other turf minded businesses have complained that the ban does not allow fertilization when the plants are most in need of it, threatening plant nutrition. Imagine a Florida with all dirt golf courses -- the long term implications for snowbirds and the revenue they bring to the local economy is to opt for retirement in Arizona or Texas.
This is a welcome shift in opinion with implications for the Corn Belt, which is dealing with its own N&P runoff. The Florida study finally highlights the notion that, while potentially harmful to the watershed if used incorrectly, a fertilizer ban does more harm than good. And that is good news for farmers who, in the next 5-10 years will see regulators grapple with N&P runoff, and how to slow the flow without turning the U.S. into another dustbowl.
View the report from NBC Channel 2 WBBH News in Fort Meyers Florida here.