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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Fertilizer Regulations Limit Nutrient Use In Lee and Charlotte Counties

Sep 01, 2014 03:05AM

To improve and protect the quality of area waterways, the use of fertilizers, containing nitrogen and phosphorus, in Southwest Florida is regulated year-round. In most communities, the use of nitrogen and phosphorus is banned during the rainy months, when they may be inadvertently washed into drainage systems and transported into back bays, estuaries and the Gulf of Mexico.


To assist users in understanding the amount of each compound included in a bag of fertilizer, three key numbers are noted on every bag. These three numbers are the main nutrients in the fertilizer – nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) – also called the NPK number. For example, a fertilizer known as 10-2-20 would have 10 percent nitrogen, two percent phosphorus and 20 percent potassium.


Fertilizer use is regulated to keep nitrogen and phosphorus from feeding algae in waterways. So, during the rainy months, fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus cannot be used. If fertilizer must be used, the two leading percentages must be zero: 0-0-10, 0-0-20, or 0-0-any number.

“Compliance with the fertilizer regulations takes some thinking and action on the part of the user, but it’s all on the label,” says Kurt Harclerode, APR, Lee County Natural Resources operation manager. “Help us combat the spread of the ‘slime monster’ by learning how to fertilize smart.”


For fertilizer regulations for each community or additional information and fertilizing tips, visit

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