Turf & Rec

Features Agronomy
A proactive approach to reduce phosphorus use


May 14, 2013
By Mike Jiggens


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Now that we have cosmetic pesticide bans in place in several Canadian provinces as well as in a number of municipalities elsewhere throughout of the country, pressure is now mounting on fertilizer use, specifically the amounts of phosphorus that are being put down.

The issue with phosphorus is that, following a rainfall event, it can get caught in the runoff and make its way into water bodies where it feeds algal blooms,thereby killing aquatic life.

Organizations such as Landscape Ontario have recognized that there are sufficient amounts of phosphorus in the soil already and that anything further should be added only when there are deficiencies or when a new stand of turf is being established.

It’s a proactive means of addressing the issue.

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What’s interesting is that studies show that the prudent use of fertilizer has a much more positive effect on limiting runoff in the urban environment as compared with lawns that are left unfertilized. A healthier lawn, aided and abetted by proper fertilizer use, promotes better water filtration, thereby reducing the amount of runoff and potential pollutants.

Turn to page 48 to learn more about the study and the relationship between water quality and fertilizer use.
The lawn care industry has made notable improvements in fertilizer quality in recent years and, coupled with significant upgrades in seed quality, good health can still be afforded to lawns in spite of existing pesticide bans.

It’s a message that Landscape Ontario is getting out and hopefully one that is being heeded by the same elected officials responsible for implementing pesticide bans.

A healthy, green lawn has several other environmental benefits, including its production of oxygen, its storage of carbon and its immense cooling effect. If fertilizer use can help achieve these attributes while also helping to reduce the pollutants in runoff, then simple logic would dictate that if any type of restriction or ban was forthcoming, that it would solely pertain to levels of phosphorus without the suggestion that fertilizer, in general, is the bad guy.

The Sports Turf Association is making its second visit to Atlantic Canada in the past three years next month. Its biennial Sports Turf Field Day will be held June 18 at the Dartmouth Sportsplex in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The 2011 event in Moncton proved to be a big hit, and this follow-up will likely be just as well attended. Among the featured speakers are Dr. Eric Lyons from the University of Guelph and Dr. Tim Vanini of New Dimensions Turf in Buffalo, N.Y.

Topics will include fertilizers, novel grass species, weed control products and crumb rubber for natural turf sports fields. Bannerman Ltd.’s George Bannerman will also provide hands-on demonstrations of seeding methods and seeding calibration.

For more information or to register, visit http://www.sportsturfassociation.com .