The fertilizer bills introduced by Representative Bryan Nelson and Senator Dave Aronberg were both defeated in the last legislative session. The efforts of CPCO and others were stymied by some old-fashioned back door politics and maneuvers. The hope of a statewide rule on fertilizer application, with enforcement by DACS, died with the bills. Now we will have to go back to fighting individual battles with counties and cities. On Tuesday, May 13th the Lee County Council passed an ordinance limiting the application of fertilizer to turfgrass. The ordinance follows the pattern set by Sarasota County, but adds a few twists. The measure does not take effect until next year, so we will have time to decide how to provide the service our customers need and adapt our treatments accordingly. The ordinance affects our industry as well as consumers. How they are going to enforce these rules on the homeowners is anyone’s guess. As we have discussed before, the “domino” effect of counties and cities adopting ordinances will have a negative impact on our industry. Key points of the Lee County Ordinance are: 1) A four (4) month blackout, June-September on application of nitrogen and phosphorus 2) All fertilizer applied must be 50% slow release 3) A 10-foot setback from the top of any body of water or swale 4) The ordinance will go into effect in one year 5) Fines for non-compliance will be $100, $250 and $500 6) New plantings are excluded, EXCEPT TURF 7) Applicators will have to pass a Lee County BMP based course and obtain an ID card. Public ball fields and golf courses are exempt. The counties and locales that have already passed ordinances include: Lee Sarasota Sanibel Island Counties on the list to follow: Brevard Duval Martin Orange Pinellas St. Lucie CPCO is working with leaders in the L&O industry to provide you with the strategies required to meet these new challenges. This is, unfortunately, only the tip of the iceberg.
Stay tuned for more information in this continuing drama.