Saturday, Nov 22, 2014
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Fertilizer ordinance takes effect

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BROOKSVILLE - Bill Lester says he has received a dozen or so telephone calls from homeowners and others who want to know more about Hernando County's new fertilizer ordinance that took effect Wednesday, Jan. 1.

The county's horticulture extension agent said he explains details of the ordinance, including when not to fertilize, and callers generally are satisfied.

The professional fertilizer companies already knew about the ordinance because they had to be certified by Jan. 1, Lester said.

Lester said he plans to discuss the new ordinance in his presentations this year to homeowners groups to ensure everyone is up to speed.

"It seems to be starting out smoothly so far," Lester said.

If Hernando residents are going to protect the county's springs, which is the ultimate goal of the new ordinance, it will take a collective effort by professional fertilizer applicators and homeowners, Lester said.

County Finance Specialist Barbara Trent said she is registering all affected parties and reminding those who have not done so.

County commissioners in November passed the ordinance which regulates how, where and when fertilizers may be applied to plants and grass.

The ordinance includes a limited application season from Jan. 1 through March 31 of each year. During that period, only professional applicators who are trained, certified and registered according to the terms of the ordinance may apply fertilizer.

The only forms of nitrogen fertilizer that may be applied during the three-month stretch are those labeled as slow- or controlled-release.

The applicator must be able to verify the type of fertilizer product used. In addition, professional applicators must register with Hernando County by June 1.

Commissioners said the ordinance should help the Weeki Wachee Springs system, where the level of nitrogen almost has doubled since the 1920s and was listed as "verified impaired due to nutrients" by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The board said it will work with the Southwest Florida Water Management District to develop an education outreach program to spread the word about the ordinance's environmental safeguards.

mbates@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5290

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