Fertilizer Label Requirements for Urban Turf (Lawns)

 

As of January 2015 the labels on fertilizer bags have changed. Florida Rule 5E-1.003 required fertilizer manufacturers to modify their package recommendations and wording.

“Specialty fertilizers” was one of the more significant changes. This included packages that weigh 49 pounds or less and are labeled for home (residential) lawn use. The new labeling requirement for fertilizers labeled for use on urban lawns included that these products must be no phosphate or low phosphate. “No phosphate” fertilizers will be expressed as zero in the guaranteed analysis. “Low phosphate” fertilizers typically have 2% when labeled for residential lawns. Additionally, the recommended application rate must not exceed 0.25 lbs. P2O5 / 1,000 square feet per application and cannot exceed 0.50 lbs. P2O5 / 1,000 square feet per year. The only exception is “starter fertilizers”, which is a fertilizer formulated for a one-time application at planting or near that time to encourage root growth. A starter fertilizer can recommend a one-time application rate of 1.0 lb. of P2O5 / 1,000 square feet.

 

The Label is the Law

Application rates cannot be exceeded and the site must be on the label. The “site” refers to the specific grass area that the application is intended for. So, for fertilizer packaging under Rule SE-1.003 there a few definitions you need to understand:

  1. “Urban Turf” or “Lawns” means non-agricultural land planted in closely mowed, managed grasses except golf courses, parks and athletic fields.
  2. “New Urban Turf” means residential lawns established less than 12 months.
  3. “Actively Growing Turf” means turf that needs mowing at least once every two weeks to maintain the grass blade height according to the UF/IFAS recommendation.
  4. “Established Urban Turf” means residential lawns older than 12 months.

 

In addition to restrictions on phosphate, the Urban Turf Rule restricts the use of nitrogen. The amount that can be applied at once, as well as, annually and the seasonal application timing are defined based on the different regions of Florida. Local ordinances may be even more restrictive than the fertilizer label.

The following language must appear on all fertilizers sold at retail:

  • “Apply only to actively growing turf”.
  • “Do not apply near water, storm drains or drainage ditches”.
  • “Do not apply if heavy rain is expected”.
  • Apply this product only to your lawn and sweep any product that lands in the driveway, sidewalk or street back onto your lawn.

Finally, the labeling requirements for fertilizers that come in 50 pound bags or larger include that the directions for use cannot exceed rates recommended in the document entitled “Florida Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries” (GI-BMP). The GI-BMP restricts nitrogen applications to less than what the label states. If the slow-release component of the overall nitrogen percentages is 30% or greater, the product can be applied at 1.0 lb. of N / 1,000 sq. ft. If it is less than 30%, then the rate is only 0.50 lb. N / 1,000 sq. ft.

 

The next time you are shopping for  fertilizer, take the time to read the bag. Know that you are applying it correctly and legally.

By the way, if you are being compensated for applying fertilizer, FDACS requires a Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer application certification with a pre-requisite of GI-BMP training.

Upcoming classes in Northwest Florida

Statewide GI-BMP classes

 

New Exam Review and CEU Class Offered in Panama City: May 10-11, 2018

New Exam Review and CEU Class Offered in Panama City: May 10-11, 2018

In December of 2017, a new Commercial Lawn & Ornamental Pest Control Operator exam was launched in Florida. This updated exam covers materials found in two new manuals not previously recommended as study guides: “Identification Guide to Common Florida Lawn and Ornamental Weeds,”  and “Lawn and Ornamental Pest Management.”. Photographic pest identification including knowledge of life cycle have nearly tripled when compared to the prior exam.

Because this exam is a statewide license, many pests may not be familiar to industry professionals in NW Florida if they are more commonly found in peninsular or South Florida.

The new exam also includes Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) topics, Florida Statutes, Administrative Rules, safety concepts from “Applying Pesticides Correctly” and label reading – both fertilizer and pesticide calculations and label interpretation.

The paper exam has been offered twice in Apopka since the launch last year with pass rates below 50% at both sessions.

Panhandle Horticulture Agents in partnership with FDACS (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) will be holding a review class May 10-11, 2018, in Panama City. This class is designed to reinforce lawn and ornamental pest control concepts with a focus on newly introduced material for the CPO Commercial Lawn & Ornamental exam, but is not a replacement for independent study.

Exams will not be given in conjunction with this class. Anyone interested in taking the CPO Commercial Lawn & Ornamental exam is still required to meet all mandated qualifications of education and/or experience. Applicants must then apply online https://aesecomm.freshfromflorida.com/ with FDACS to obtain a voucher and schedule the test with a local Extension office.

This class will also provide CEUs for current license holders in the following categories (please check 2018 CEU Commercial L&O Flyer for dates – not all CEUs available both days): Commercial L&O, Limited L&O, LCLM, O&T, Private Ag, Limited Urban Fertilizer. Core CEUs will be available both days.

Registration is customized based on attendees needs as one-day of your choice or two-day. If you plan to take the Comm. L&O Exam, it is strongly encouraged that you attend both days.

To register please visit https://lawn-ornamental.eventbrite.com

For questions about the class, please contact Julie McConnell at juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Extension Bay County Horticulture Agent
B.S. Horticulture, Auburn University
M.S. Entomology, University of Florida

Green Industry Training Classes

Please check out our Upcoming Events page to see what classes are offered in the Panhandle for Green Industry Professionals.

If you’d like to have emails about upcoming events sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter at Subscribe UF/IFAS select “Green Industries in the Panhandle” under the “Lawn & Garden” tab.

UF/IFAS Extension Bay County Horticulture Agent
B.S. Horticulture, Auburn University
M.S. Entomology, University of Florida

Should a Red Maple be Planted There?

profileautumnblazemapleRed Maples are among the most frequently planted urban trees. Many of its features, especially its leaves are quite variable in form.  Its flowers, petioles, twigs and seeds are all red to varying degrees.  But, it is best known for its brilliant deep scarlet foliage in autumn.  Red Maple is adaptable to a wide range of site conditions, perhaps more so than any other tree in eastern North America.  It can be found growing in swamps, on poor dry soils, and most anywhere in between.  However, the tree health and appearance decreases when trees have more impervious surfaces around them.

North Carolina State University research has developed the impervious surface threshold (http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/impervious-surface-threshold-for-sustainable-urban-tree-planting-and-landscaping-design) which can be used to identify planting sites where Red Maple will thrive. Landscape architects, urban planners, arborists, landscapers, and other professionals can use these impervious surface thresholds to reduce Red Maple management and replacement costs.

Trees surrounded by less than 33% impervious surface cover will most likely be in good or excellent condition. Trees surrounded by 33%-66% are likely to be in fair condition.  Trees surrounded by 67% or more tend to be in poor condition.  Impervious surface cover can be measured by using the “Pace to Plant” technique.

The “Pace to Plant” technique is a tool to quickly and accurately quantify the amount of impervious surface surrounding a tree or planting site. Begin by standing at the planting site and identify the closest impervious surface edge.  Take 25 steps at 45⁰ to the nearest impervious edge, counting only the steps that land on the impervious surface.  Then, return to the identified planting site and begin walking 25 steps in the opposite direction.  Again, only count the steps that fall onto impervious surface.  If you encounter a building or wall, count the remainder of the steps as impervious.  One more time, return to the starting planting site.  This time turn 90° and begin walking 25 steps and count the steps that fall onto impervious surface.  Finally, turn around and go back to the planting site and begin walking in the opposite direction for 25 steps.  This will be the fourth time that steps falling onto the impervious surface are counted.  Having walked in four directions located 90°  from each other, completing an “X” through the planting site, the transect is final with a total of 100 steps have been taken.  By totaling the number of steps that fall onto impervious surfaces the percentage of the surrounding ground area can be determined.  For example, if the total number of steps falling on impervious surface is 65 (out of the potentially 100 steps), the percentage of impervious surface is 65%.  Using the established criteria, the site would not be suitable for planting a Red Maple.Frame4_PtP

While North Carolina State has only researched the Red Maple tree species, the “Pace to Plant” technique could be used to determine suitable sites for many different trees being considered for commercial urban planting.

By evaluating the impervious surface restrictions, better tree species selection may be possible. If the right tree for the right place is chosen well, stress to urban trees, including pest infestations, can be reduced.

Growing Healthy Palms Workshop

palms

University of Florida palm and disease Extension specialist Dr. Monica
Elliott will share information on palm installation and best management
practices.

  • Timing and techniques for proper palm planting.
    Establishing and care for palms through proper watering,
    fertilization, and pruning.
  • Learn the cold hardy palms to plant along the Gulf Coast and
    palm issues and diseases associated with cold weather
    injury.
  • Where to focus your palm care when funds are limited.

Wednesday July 27, 2016

Pensacola (10-11:45am), Escambia County Central Office Complex, 3363 West Park Place Pensacola, FL 32505

REGISTER: Program is free but register for a spot by calling 475-5230 or emailing bbolles@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa Beach (3-4:45pm), Walton County Extension Annex 70 Logan Ln, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

REGISTER: Program is free but register by calling 850-892-8172 or emailing haneyc@ufl.edu

 

CEUs to be available

Santa Rosa County Extension
Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer License – Do You Have It?

BMP bookOn June 18, 2009, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed into law SB 494 requiring all commercial fertilizer applicators have a license by January 1, 2014. Passing the Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) training is mandatory to obtain that license. University of Florida/IFAS Extension provides training and testing programs in urban landscape management practices and issues certificates demonstrating satisfactory completion of the training.  These classes are available in English, Spanish, or Haitian Creole.

After receiving a certificate of completion of the GI-BMP training, a person must pay $25 and apply with Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to receive the Limited Certification for Urban Landscape Commercial Fertilizer (LCULCF) also commonly called the “fertilizer license.” You can apply online or download the paper application and apply by mail.

There has been a lot of confusion over which certificate is needed by the applicator. Many individuals have not completed the second step of the process and are not in compliance with current state laws. If you are unsure which certification you hold, check your wallet card for the identification number; an FDACS issued certification will begin with “LF” and the GI-BMP certification begins with “GV.” You must have the FDACS certification beginning with “LF” to apply fertilizer for-hire.

The LCULCF certification expires 4 years after the date of issuance.  Continuing education of two hours of F.S. 482 General Standards CORE and two hours of the category Limited Urban Fertilizer are required for renewal. Those that received their LCULCF certification before the 2014 deadline may be approaching the need for renewal.

The good news is, if you passed the GI-BMP certification but failed to take the next step towards FDACS certification your GI-BMP training certificate is non-expiring and you can still apply for the LCULCF without attending the training again. Not sure if you have successfully completed this program? You can check here the list of certificate holders by county at http://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/professionals/certification_lists/cert_county_name.shtml.

If you did pass the course, but cannot locate your GI-BMP certificate, you can request a replacement copy here.

Using UF/IFAS-recommended application rates and timing of pesticides, fertilizer and irrigation can help prevent nonpoint source pollution (water pollution that is associated with everyday human activities and driven by rainfall, runoff and leaching) from urban landscapes. By choosing plants appropriate for the site and maintaining them with correct cultural practices (irrigation, fertilization, mowing and pruning), one can significantly reduce the amount of water a landscape needs to thrive.

The GI-BMP class teaches landscape workers how to implement these Best Management Practices into their daily work. This is an opportunity for Green Industry workers to complete this requirement and market their skills to clientele.  Trainings are available monthly across the Panhandle as well as on-line.  Visit the website for more information http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/professionals/BMP_overview.htm.