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Tampa Bay fertilizer bans go into effect June 1st

TAMPA – Fertilizer bans go into effect for parts of the Tampa Bay area on June 1.

This prevents the use of any fertilizer containing phosphorous or nitrogen in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota Counties from June 1 through September 30.

There are differences and exemptions of the ban and the free UF IFAS application is useful when looking at specific neighborhoods.

The ban is in effect during the rainy season because a summer thunderstorm can dump several inches of water, leading to a significant amount of water running off into drains into lakes, reservoirs and our bay waters.

Any excess fertilizer gets washed away and into these water bodies, which leads to reduced water quality.

Excess phosphorous and nitrogen lead to algae growth. An abundance of algae blocks sunlight from reaching the bottom of those water bodies and therefore fewer plants and sea grass. Fewer plants leads to lower oxygen levels which eventually lead to fish kills.

The 2022 Tampa Bay seagrass survey showed just 30,000 acres of seagrass. That’s 10,000 acres below the goal. It also marked the third consecutive survey period showing a decline after hitting a high of 40,000 acres.

Fertilizers containing phosphorous and nitrogen can still be used until June 1st. However, extra caution should be taken not to apply it to impervious surfaces, when it is raining or more than two inches are expected within the next 36 hours, and not within 10 feet of any body of water.

Caution should be used when dealing with lawn clippings as well to make sure they are not put down any drains.

If the fertilizer does have nitrogen, it must be a least 50% controlled release or slow release. Phosphorous should not be used at all, ever, unless a soil analysis done by a qualified lab shows there is a phosphorous deficiency in the soil.

If you use a fertilizer spreader, it must have a deflector shield on it to better control where fertilizer is spread.