Nutrients are minerals required for plant growth. Nutrient management involves the management of the amount, placement, and timing of the application of fertilizers, manure and pesticides. When more nutrients are applied than the plants can uptake, the excess can enter surface or groundwater in stormwater runoff.
Nutrient management plans specify the source, amount, form, timing and method of application of nutrients on each field in order to achieve realistic yields while minimizing transport of nutrients to surface water and/or groundwater. For croplands, excessive nutrients typically come from over application of or too frequent application of fertilizer, manure or pesticide.
Organic farming is a recommended solution, which includes crop rotation, green manure, composting, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation.
- Cost savings for fertilizers and pesticides.
- Lowers risk of degraded water quality.
- Sustains the chemical and biological properties of the soil.
Out of the twenty nutrients that are required for plant growth phosphorous is most often found in excess in streams and lakes. Phosphorous is the most troublesome pollutants because it feeds algae and weeds, which use up oxygen in the water. Communities like Antioch and Third Lake have banned the use of phosphorous and require the use of phosphorous-free fertilizer. When you purchase of bag of phosphorous-free fertilizer there will be three numbers on the bag; the middle number should be zero.
Test your soil before applying any fertilizer or pesticide. This will save you money since you will know with certainty the appropriate amount and type of fertilizer that is needed for your yard. If you use a lawn care service, know what chemicals are being used your lawn.
This is especially important if you have pets and children who could potentially come in contact with the chemicals after application.
“Nutrient Management,” US Department of Agriculture: Natural Resources Conservation Service. www.nrcs.usda.gov/FEATURE/backyard/nutmgt.html
“Don’t P on Your Lawn! And other lawn care tips for green lawns, not lakes,” Lawn to Lake Partners, www.lawntolake.org
Spot spraying: Natural Resources Conservation Service, Lynn Betts
Crop fertilizing: "The Farmers Wife: Images from the Land of Corn & Soybeans"
Fertilizer bag: City of Orlando