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Van Buren County banning phosphorous fertilizers Jan. 1

Published 9:32am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

PAW PAW – On Jan. 1, 2010, the ban on the use of fertilizers containing phosphorous takes effect for the residents of Van Buren County.

Van Buren County’s lakes, rivers and streams are considered natural assets to both the county and the state.

These water bodies serve as environmental, recreational, cultural and economic resources and contribute to the general health, happiness and welfare of the public.

Contaminants contained in surface water runoff include excess nutrients previously applied to lawns and gardens.

Regulation of the overuse of these nutrients will help improve local water quality and reduce the incidence of algae blooms.

“More and more communities are banning the use of phosphorous containing fertilizers for the very same reasons listed above,” says Beth Clawson, Natural Resources Extension Educator for MSU Extension.

Van Buren County is among the early adopters of this position, thus leading the way for healthier aquatic ecosystems in Michigan.

By using no or low phosphorous fertilizers, citizens can participate in protecting the waters of the Great Lakes for everyone.

All plants need some phosphorous for growth.

However, most soil types in Michigan already contain it in ample amounts for many years to come.

Below are some tips for fertilizer applications in Van Buren County:

1. Get a soil test. How much fertilizer do you need? Don’t guess, soil test.

2. Look for the “0″ on the fertilizer bag. All fertilizers list N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) percentages; such as, 22-0-15.

3. Fertilize lawns primarily in the spring and fall months when the plants are taking up the most nutrients in either its leaves or roots.

4. For lawns don’t think of it as one plant, think of it as 3 million tiny individual plants, each with different fertilizer needs.

5. Take your soil test to the MSU Extension office.

6. Cut your lawn high. As crazy as it sounds, your grass will actually grow slower!

7. If you return clippings back to your lawn, you can use a third less fertilizer.

“I bet you won’t read that on the bags of your four-step plan,” Clawson says.

8. If your soil test calls for phosphorous applications you will be allowed to do so, but only with a soil test result requiring it.

For more information about the Van Buren County phosphorous ban or soil tests contact MSU Extension at (269) 657-8213 or e-mail

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