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Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions about Phosphorous Fertilizer Ordinances

Which Counquestions.jpgties in the Paw Paw and Black River Watersheds have ordinances addressing phosphorus content in lawn fertilizers?

At present, only Allegan and Van Buren counties have adopted phosphorus ordinances.  Other Lake Michigan shoreline counties that have adopted such ordinances include Muskegon and Ottawa counties

What about Agriculture?

The ordinances specifically state that application of phosphorous fertilizer for agricultural purposes is exempt from the ban.  Agricultural producers should consult the Michigan Department of Agriculture Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMP) for nutrient utilization.  It is still recommended that farmers get their soil tested to see how much phosphorous they really need!

Doesn't my lawn need phosphorous?

Yes, all plants need phosphorous to grow properly.  However, most soil types have more than enough naturally occurring phosphorous to sustain healthy lawn growth.  Why apply more than your lawn can use?

How can I tell if my soil needs phosphorous (or Where can I get my soil tested)?

A soil test is simple, inexpensive and will quickly tell you if your soil is low on phosphorous or any other essential nutrient.  For more information about soil tests, click here.

How do I know if a fertilizer contains Phosphorous?

Fertilizer bags carry numbers giving the proportion of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (N, P and K) in the mix.  For example, a 22-0-15 mixture has 22 percent nitrogen, 0 percent phosphorous, and 15 percent potassium.  For lawns, always look for a bag with Zero in the Middle unless soil tests indicate otherwise!

My local store does not carry phosphorous free lawn fertilizer, what can I do?

Try making a recommendation that your store carry some phosphorous free options and why it is important.  Many store owners are happy to listen to constructive advice.

When will the Van Buren County Phosphorous Fertilizer Ordinance take effect?

The Van Buren County ordinance will take effect January 1, 2010.  It applies to all areas of Van Buren County and will be enforced by the Van Buren County Drain Commissioner's office.

Where can I find a copy of the lawn fertilizer ordinance applicable to my county?

Click here.


This page last updated on 3/5/2023.

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