Maine's Fertilizer Law
In an attempt to protect our lakes and streams from over-fertilization and too much pollution, the Maine legislature passed a law that took effect January 1, 2008, that discourages the use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorous.
Research has shown that Maine lakes in particular are suffering as a result of too much phosphorous being washed in when it rains or the snow melts. A significant source is lawn fertilizer. The irony, according to Roy Bouchard, a lake biologist with the Maine DEP, is that Maine soils are rich in phosphorous already, they don't need any more added to them to sustain lawns.
Rather than ban the sale of lawn fertilizer containing phosphorus as some other states have done, Maine has chosen to educate people by requiring stores to post signs explaining when it is appropriate to use fertilizers with phosphorous. More specifically the law states:
"A person may not sell fertilizer containing phosphorus at a retail store after January 1, 2008, unless the seller posts a Department of Environmental Protection approved sign that indicates the product is not appropriate for use on non-agricultural lawn or turf due to potential adverse effects on water quality- - except when:
1. Soil test results from a laboratory indicate that additional phosphorus is needed for lawn or turf; or
2. The fertilizer will be used in establishing a new lawn or turf, including establishing turf at a sod farm, or for re-seeding or over-seeding existing lawn or turf. "
For the sake of Maine's lakes and streams, the Department of Environmental Protection requests that homeowners use only phosphorus free fertilizer for existing lawns, unless a soil test indicates a phosphorus deficiency. The amount of phosphorus in a product can be determined by looking for the 3 numbers on the package. The numbers indicate the percent of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash.
Look for packages where the middle number is zero (0) for phosphorous free products.