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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Pa. legislature mulls limits on phosphorus in fertilizer


Pennsylvania is the latest state considering a ban on phosphorus in some fertilizers, and the legislature could take things a step further by requiring specialized training for professional applicators.
Senate Bill 792 passed by a vote of 47-3 on March 19, and is scheduled to go before the house for a vote in October.
A previous version of the bill first was introduced in Harrisburg in 2014. According to current version, any fertilizer product used in Pennsylvania can contain no more than 0.9 pounds of total nitrogen, at least 20 percent of which must be in an enhanced efficient (slow-release) form.
The proposed legislation also prohibits phosphorus in fertilizer products with the following exceptions:
> the fertilizer is an organic-based or natural organic product,
> the fertilizer is labeled for repairing an existing turf area or establishing a new one,
> the fertilizer is a liquid product.
Also exempt from a proposed phosphorus ban are instances where a soil test performed in the previous three years indicates phosphorus would be of benefit.
Each of those exceptions have been fairly common in other states imposing phosphorus bans. What is unique in the Pennsylvania bill is that, as written, it will require golf courses, parks, playgrounds, schools, universities and colleges that apply fertilizers to employ a "commercial applicator" who "applies or supervises the application of fertilizer to the property or premises of another or who applies or supervises application of fertilizer."
The bill makes no mention of the actual certification process that will be put into place if an when the bill is signed into law. That includes the process itself, funding and implementation as well as enforcement.


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