[Adopted 12-16-2009 by Ord. No. 29-09 (Ch. 65A of the 1969 Code)]
The purpose of this article is to regulate the outdoor application of fertilizer so as to reduce the overall amount of excess nutrients entering waterways, thereby helping to protect and improve surface water quality.
Elevated levels of nutrients, particularly phosphorus, in surface water bodies can result in excessive and accelerated growth of algae and aquatic plants (eutrophication). Excessive plant growth can result in diurnal variations and extremes in dissolved oxygen and pH, which, in turn, can be detrimental to aquatic life. As algae and plant materials die off, the decay process creates a further demand on dissolved oxygen levels. The presence of excessive plant matter can also restrict use of the affected water for recreation and water supply. While healthy vegetated areas are protective of water quality by stabilizing soil and filtering precipitation, when fertilizers are applied to the land surface improperly or in excess of the needs of target vegetation, nutrients can be transported by means of stormwater to nearby waterways, contributing to the problematic growth of excessive aquatic vegetation. Most soils in New Jersey contain sufficient amounts of phosphorus to support adequate root growth for established turf. Over time, it is necessary to replenish available phosphorus, but generally not at the levels commonly applied. Other target vegetation, such as vegetable gardens and agricultural/horticultural plantings, will have a greater need for phosphorus application, as will the repair or establishment of new lawns or cover vegetation. A soils test and fertilizer application recommendation geared to the soil and planting type is the best means to determine the amount of nutrients to apply. Timing and placement of fertilizer application is also critical to avoid transport of nutrients to waterways through stormwater runoff. Fertilizer applied immediately prior to a runoff-producing rainfall, outside the growing season or to impervious surfaces is most likely to be carried away by means of runoff without accomplishing the desired objective of supporting target vegetation growth. Therefore, the management of the type, amount and techniques for fertilizer application is necessary as one tool to protect water resources.
This article does not apply to application of fertilizer on commercial farms, but improper application of fertilizer on farms would be problematic as well. Stewardship on the part of commercial farmers is needed to address this potential source of excess nutrient load to water bodies. Commercial farmers are expected to implement best management practices in accordance with conservation management plans or resource conservation plans developed for the farm by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and approved by the Soil Conservation District Board.
For the purpose of this article, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meanings stated herein, unless their use in the text of this article clearly demonstrates a different meaning. When not inconsistent with the context, words used in the present tense include the future, words used in the plural number include the singular number, and words used in the singular number include the plural number. The word "shall" is always mandatory and not merely directory.
- The land area, 25 feet in width, adjacent to any water body.
- COMMERCIAL FARM
- A farm management unit producing agricultural or horticultural products worth $2,500 or more annually.
- A fertilizer material, mixed fertilizer or any other substance containing one or more recognized plant nutrients, which is used for its plant nutrient content, which is designed for use or claimed to have value in promoting plant growth, and which is sold, offered for sale or intended for sale.
- IMPERVIOUS SURFACE
- A surface that has been covered with a layer of material so that it is highly resistant to infiltration by water. This term shall be used to include any highway, street, sidewalk, parking lot, driveway or other material that prevents infiltration of water into the soil.
- Any individual, corporation, company, partnership, firm, association or political subdivision of this state subject to municipal jurisdiction.
- PHOSPHORUS FERTILIZER
- Any fertilizer that contains phosphorus, expressed as P205, with a guaranteed analysis of greater than zero, except that it shall not be considered to include animal (including human) or vegetable manures, agricultural liming materials, or wood ashes that have not been amended to increase their nutrient content.
- SOILS TEST
- A technical analysis of soil conducted by an accredited soil testing laboratory following the protocol for such a test established by Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension.
- WATER BODY
- A surface water feature, such as a lake, river, stream, creek, pond, lagoon, bay or estuary.
No person may do any of the following:
Apply fertilizer when a runoff-producing rainfall is occurring or predicted and/or when soils are saturated and a potential for fertilizer movement off site exists.
Apply fertilizer to an impervious surface. Fertilizer inadvertently applied to an impervious surface must be swept or blown back into the target surface or returned to either its original or another appropriate container for reuse.
Apply fertilizer within the buffer of any water body.
Apply fertilizer more than 15 days prior to the start of or at any time after the end of the recognized growing season, March 15 to October 31. Should the ground still be frozen or susceptible to heavy frost, the March 15 starting date shall be rescheduled to a date where the threat of frost and frozen ground conditions no longer exist. Likewise, should frost occur prior to October 31, care should be given to applying fertilizer when the colder weather sets in and the likelihood of frozen, or continuously frosted, ground will not allow the applied fertilizer to break down and be absorbed into the lawn.
No person may apply phosphorus fertilizer in outdoor areas except as demonstrated to be needed for the specific soils and target vegetation in accordance with a soils test and the associated annual fertilizer recommendation issued by Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension.
Application of phosphorus fertilizer needed for:
Establishing vegetation for the first time, such as after land disturbance, provided that the application is in accordance with the requirements established under the Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act, N.J.S.A. 4:24-39 et seq., and implementing rules.
Reestablishing or repairing a turf area.
Application of phosphorus fertilizer that delivers liquid or granular fertilizer under the soil's surface, directly to the feeder roots.
Application of phosphorus fertilizer to residential container plantings, flowerbeds or vegetable gardens.
This article shall be enforced by the Police Department, Engineering Department and those other appropriate municipal officials of the Township of Morris.