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Urban Fertilizer, Groundwater and Environmental Stewardship Clyde Graham January 14, 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Urban Fertilizer, Groundwater and Environmental Stewardship Clyde Graham January 14, 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Urban Fertilizer, Groundwater and Environmental Stewardship Clyde Graham January 14, 2011

2 Fertilizer and the Environment The problem is when you have too much of a good thing in the wrong place Air pollutionammonia losses to the air Greenhouse gasN2O emissions Bluegreen AlgaePhosphorus and nitrogen losses to lakes, rivers, oceans Groundwater contamination--nitrates

3 Groundwater in the News - PEI Pace on P.E.I. nitrate pollution 'glacial' Monday, August 16, 2010 | CBC News Agriculture, watersheds focus of nitrates report Wednesday, July 9, 2008 | CBC News NITRATE COMMISSION REPORT PROVIDED TO ISLANDERS News Releases, Tuesday, July 8, 2008 Premier's Office Premier's Office Prince Edward Island Agriculture Gets Federal Investment to Improve and Protect Water Resources Feb 16, 2009 Marketwire GOVERNMENT OF CANADA BOOSTS ENVIRONMENTAL EFFORTS IN ISLAND AGRICULTURE News release, November 2007, AAFCAAFC

4 Groundwater in the News - Ontario Well testing in Ontario County reveals health risk Dec 27, 2010 Messenger Post Ground Water Monitoring Wells Test Higher Than Normal For Nitrate News Release, August 12, 2009 Grey Bruce Health Unit Nitrate geochemistry of a regional aquifer in an agricultural landscape, Woodstock, Ontario, Canada Dru J. Heagle*, Ramon Aravena*, Sherry L. Schiff*, David Rudolph*, 26 October 2002 *University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

5 Matching Nutrients With Crop Needs to Reduce Nitrogen Leaching There is clear evidence of the relationship between groundwater nitrate levels and fertilizer application rates. The key principle of nutrient management planning is to apply only the fertilizer or manure that can be absorbed by the crop and apply it at the right time. An effective nutrient management plan will optimize the crop yield and quality, minimize fertilizer costs and manure use, and protect soil and water.

6 Aquifers

7 In Canada, 8.9 million people, or 30.3% of the population, rely on groundwater for domestic use.

8 Health Concerns The major health concern related to elevated nitrate levels in drinking water is methemoglobinemia or blue-baby syndrome. Water with over 10 parts per million nitrate-nitrogen can cause methemoglobinemia (inability of the blood to supply oxygen) in infants and other health effects. Concerns have been raised about possible links between nitrates and other illnesses, particularly some types of cancer and birth defects. Many studies have attempted to link these health effects to nitrates in drinking water. However, results have been inconclusive.

9 Nitrate (NO 3 - ) is highly soluble In porous, sandy, course soils it leach downward and contaminate groundwater supplies. Water with over 10 parts per million nitrate- nitrogen can cause methemoglobinemia (inability of the blood to supply oxygen) in infants and other health effects. Most problems have been traced to animal manure, septic tank sources, or fertilizer spills. However, over-application of nitrogen fertilizer can also contribute to nitrate pollution, (University of Minnesota Extension)

10 2008 Report of the Commission on Nitrates in Groundwater, PEI Reducing Nitrate Contamination From Cosmetic Use of Fertilizers Issue: All fertilizers can contribute to nitrate contamination of groundwater. Background: Homeowner use of fertilizers is a relatively small contributor to the overall nitrate contamination of ground and surface water in Prince Edward Island. Nonetheless, the practice of fertilizing lawns is widespread in urban and rural areas and contributes to nitrate contamination of the environment. Recommendation: It is recommended that there be a province-wide policy to reduce the use of fertilizers for cosmetic purposes.

11 AAFC Over-Application or Improper Storage of Manure or Fertilizer Manure or fertilizer that is applied to land at a greater rate than growing crops can utilize the nutrients can result in nitrates leaching into groundwater. Fertilizer that is applied to lawns or gardens at excessive rates may also contribute. Prevention: Balance the nutrient requirements of your crops with the nutrient content of the manure or fertilizer. Conduct regular soil and manure tests and maintain accurate records of application. Storage of manure concentrates nutrients in one location which can increase risk of contamination. Prevention: Manure storage facilities should be designed and constructed correctly.

12 Nitrate risk factors Nitrogen rate - One study showed that at one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, no leaching occurred. Nitrogen source - Slow-release fertilizers are a nitrogen source that can reduce the chance of leaching. Application timing - In late fall, plants take up less nitrogen and there is a greater chance for leaching to occur. Irrigation practices - The more irrigation that takes place the greater the chances for nitrate leaching. Soil texture - The sandier the soil the more chance for nitrate leaching. Age of site - Younger sites usually have less organic matter and need to be fertilized more therefore increasing the chance of leaching. (Bocher, 1995)


14 Urban Fertilizer Council Members: Scotts Sure-Gro Agrium Advanced Technologies Stewardship focus Educate homeowners, public Provide tools to municipal officials Low P standard

15 4R Urban Stewardship Industry has been working with Canadian Food Inspection Agency for a number of years 4R type stewardship messages will be mandatory on all lawn fertilizer in Canada by Dec. 31, 2013 with garden products to follow Companies will implement with package redesign >> Branding window limited Messaging will reach ~10 million households


17 Best Management Practices Right Product – Use the correct fertilizer for your soil conditions Have your soil tested every couple of years to determine what type of fertilizer nutrients are needed When purchasing your own fertilizer, look for products that contain slowly available nitrogen. Slowly available nitrogen can be found in organic and synthetic forms Carefully read and follow the directions on the fertilizer bag. Those directions are there to ensure the best results for your lawn and the environment

18 Best Management Practices Right Rate - Use the right amount of fertilizer Follow fertilizer rate recommendations. More is not always better Too much fertilizer can result in burning and yellow strips in your lawn Use a good quality spreader and make sure to check the setting

19 Best Management Practices Right Time – Use fertilizer at the right time of the year Know your lawn and the grass variety. Different grass varieties require different fertilizer timings for best results Lawns go through a normal period of dormancy during the driest parts of summer. During that time, you should not fertilizer your lawn – let it rest During dormancy, reduce the amount of foot-traffic and stop mowing. As the rain returns grass will green up in 7-10 days Fertilizer shouldnt be applied when the ground is frozen or just before a heavy rain is expected

20 Best Management Practices Right Place – Make sure fertilizer stays where it has the most benefit to your lawn and the least impact on the environment and our waterways Keep fertilizer off hard surfaces such as driveways, patios and sidewalks. Clean up any spills immediately Leave a small strip unfertilized on the edge of the lawn Avoid fertilizing steep slopes or gullies Keep fertilizer away from run-off into storm sewers, rivers, lakes and ponds Fertilizer should only be used as a source of nutrients for lawns and gardens. Fertilizer should not be used to de-ice walkways and driveways

21 Lawn Care Practices in Ontario More than 50% fertilized their lawn last year Only 14% use a service – unchanged since 1995 Most people make two applications per year 75% changed their lawn care practices in the past year: most common change was to hand weed Trigger to buy = retail flyers & front of store placement Source: Ipsos Reid November 2009 EDUCATION CAN DRIVE BEST PRACTICES

22 Lawn Fertilizer BMPs Read the bag Know the size of your lawn Buy what you need Use it up following label directions Right product. Right rate. Right place. Right time. Choose the right product Share or store leftover fertilizer for next year

23 Education on Package Source: Ipsos Reid November 2009 Choose the right product for the job. Read the label for best practices – Right rate! Keep from water, hard surfaces – Right place! Dont use when rainfall expected – Right time! The bag is the number one source of information for fertilizer users: 43%

24 Thank You

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