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

April is National Safe Dig Month

April is National Safe Dig Month

This month, recognized by the Senate and Florida’s governor, reminds diggers why calling 811 before all outdoor digging projects is important to your safety. Before installing a mailbox, fence, deck, garden or tree make sure to call Sunshine 811 to have underground lines marked. 811 is the free national number designated by the Federal Communications Commission.  It notifies utility companies, who in turn send their professional locators to identify and mark the appropriate location of underground line with paint and flags in colors that identify the utility type.  The following colors represent the seven various utilities: red, orange, blue, green, yellow, purple and white.  To see which colors correspond with each utility click on the picture below:

Hitting an underground utility line while digging can cause injuries, utility service outages to an entire neighborhood and damage to the environment. Failure to call before digging results in one unintentional utility hit every eight minutes nationwide.  You could also be financially affected with costly fines and high repair costs.

Calling 811 in Florida is the law. At least two full business days before digging, do-it yourselfers and professional excavators must contact 811 by phone to start the process of getting underground utility lines marked.  This is a free service.  Be sure that all utilities have been marked before grabbing the shovel.  Follow up on your one call ticket by contacting 811 again on the third day.  For more information on Florida’s law, visit www.Sunshine811.com.

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

2016 Formosan Termite Swarm Report

 

Formosan-termite The genus Coptotermes contains the largest number of termite pests (28 species) worldwide, with the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosansus, being the most widely distributed and most economically important.  During the 1960’s it was found in Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. The first well-established colony in Florida was reported in 1980.

A single colony of Formosan subterranean termite may contain several million termites that forage up to 300 feet in soil. Once established, the Formosan subterranean termite has never been eradicated from an area.  Therefore, monitoring of movement of the species is critical. Beginning in 2015, the Florida Department of Agriculture of Consumer Science (FDACS) began trapping the alates. Termites have three primary castes: the reproductive, soldiers, and workers. Within the reproductive caste, the young females, referred to as alates, are the ones that leave the colony. They are able to form wings and seek new areas to become established.  Dispersal flights or “swarms” are massive and begin at dusk on calm and humid evenings from April to July. Alates are attracted to lights.

The objective of the FDACS Formosan Termite Alate project is to trap alates throughout the four most western counties of the Panhandle during their major swarm season in May and June, which is the time they are most active in that part of Florida. Trapped alates were counted on a weekly basis to determine peak swarming weeks.  White, gridded 7”x 4” sticky card attached to 6’ stakes are placed under strong, predetermined street lights.  Twenty-two trap locations were selected, each representing a key Panhandle community with at least one location North of I-10 within each of the four counties.Capture 2

In 2016, sixteen out of the 22 traps were positive for Formosan termite alates throughout the four Panhandle counties. Formosan alates were caught during 7 of the 8 weeks of trapping. The largest spike in numbers trapped was during the week of May 8th.  A subsequent swarming spike occurred during the week of May 22nd.  Trap locations that were positive in 2016 and not 2015 included Pensacola Beach, Destin, Blue Mountain Beach, Okaloosa Island and Choctaw Beach. The project will be continued each year in order to determine some of the problem areas.

For more information go to:

http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Agricultural-Environmental-Services/Consumer-Resources/Protect-Your-Home-from-Pests/Termites/Formosan-Termite-Program

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.