Best Management Practices for Application of Turf Pesticides & Fertilizers—Updated Spring 2009
Why Best Management Practices?
Studies confirm that loss of pesticides to ground and surface waters continues to threaten water resources in the Northeast.1 Applying pesticides to saturated lawns or when wet weather is predicted greatly increases the risk of loss. It is evident that lawn care companies and homeowners need to better understand the risks of applying fertilizers and pesticides under unfavorable conditions, such as to saturated soils or just prior to heavy rain events. In 2005, despite these known risks, some Maine lawn care companies made hundreds of applications during a week when it rained over 3 inches, and this was preceded by a five-week period when more than 8.5 inches of rain was recorded.
Because of these inappropriate practices, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) convened a committee to develop these Best Management Practices (BMPs). Heavy rains can easily wash away applications of fertilizers and pesticides from turf areas and move them into our precious and still somewhat pristine water resources. Surface water sampling done by Friends of Casco Bay has detected multiple herbicides and at least one insecticide and fungicide in waters leaving Southern Maine residential developments.2 Some of the concentrations found in these samples have exceeded aquatic life criteria and may be adversely impacting aquatic invertebrates and fish species. Industry professionals and the BPC agree these BMPs will improve the practices of commercial lawn care operations, golf course superintendents, athletic field managers, sod growers and home lawn enthusiasts.
Adding to this concern is the dramatic increase in distribution and use of lawn and garden pesticides in the State of Maine. BPC distribution and use reports show a sharp rise from 800,000 pounds in 1995 to 3,000,000 pounds in 2004.3 Most of this material was a combination of fertilizers and pesticides (weed & feed products) applied to residential and commercial lawns. Another purpose for these BMPs is to demonstrate the BPC's desire for turf managers to minimize reliance on pesticides.
The Board recognizes that homeowners who apply pesticides under unfavorable conditions can also threaten water quality. But, our hope is the use of these BMPs by commercial lawn care operators, golf course superintendents, athletic field managers, and sod growers will help reach the ultimate goal of reducing human and environmental risks and set the example for do-it-yourselfers.
The BMPs include the following sections:
- Initial Site Visit
- Turf Assessment Prior to Treatment
- Thorough Periodic Assessments
Informed Product Choice
- Prior to Application
Download the complete BMP document (PDF)
Comments or Questions?
Contact Gary Fish at 207-287-7545, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
1. USGS Circular 1291 and Friends of Casco Bay surface water sampling results.
2. Friends of Casco Bay surface water sampling results.
3. Data derived from sales and distribution reports provided by pesticide manufacturers and distributors and commercial applicator summary reports provided to the Maine Board of Pesticides Control annually.