Department of Environmental Conservation urges homeowners to purchase phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer



To urge homeowners across the state to purchase phosphorus-free fertilizer, the Department of Environmental Conservation launched the annual “Look for the Zero” campaign.

Specifically the “Look for Zero” campaign encourages consumers to review bag labels for phosphorus content when shopping for fertilizer. According to the DEC, fertilizer labels have three numbers and the number in the middle is the percentage of phosphorus in the product.

The DEC added that the reason for this campaign is to decrease phosphorus runoff into New York’s water bodies as over 100 cannot be used or enjoyed due to phosphorus overuse. Regardless of location, excess phosphorus from lawns can wash off and pollute lakes and streams.

The public awareness campaign was officially launched on April 6 by DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.

“Despite some recent winter-like weather, spring is here and property owners are outside working to make sure their lawns look good,” said Commissioner Seggos. “But there’s more to it than just green grass. We want New Yorkers to look for the zero on the fertilizer bag before bringing it home. Excess phosphorus is a threat to many New York waterbodies, triggering algae blooms and sometimes rendering waters un-swimmable and un-fishable. If New Yorkers implement sustainable lawn care methods, we can help dramatically reduce phosphorus and pesticide use on lawns, which will protect water quality and public health while maintaining healthy backyards.”

The “Look for Zero” campaign was first launched by the DEC in 2017 with a public service announcement showing the effects of runoff on waterbodies. The full PSA can we watched in the player below:

Additionally, New York’s nutrient runoff law prohibits the use of phosphorus lawn fertilizers unless a new lawn is being established, or a soil test shows the lawn is phosphorus deficient. This law does not affect agricultural fertilizer or fertilizer for gardens.

More information can be found on the Department of Environmental Conservation Lawn Fertilizer website.

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