[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Stafford 12-15-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-50. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to regulate the outdoor application of fertilizer products so as to reduce the overall amount of excess nutrients from fertilizers entering waterways, thereby helping to protect and improve surface water and groundwater quality. This chapter is further intended to establish a procedure to educate the public and landscapers on the proper application of fertilizers.
For the purposes of this chapter the following terms shall have the meanings stated herein. The word "shall" is always mandatory and not merely directory.
- Any person who applies fertilizer products to soils or turf.
- 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, and that 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 compacted or covered with a layer of material so that it is highly resistant to infiltration by water. This term shall include any highway, street, sidewalk, parking lot, driveway or other location that prevents infiltration of water into the soil.
- LANDSCAPE PROFESSIONAL
- A person or business that, in exchange for pay, goods, services or other consideration, applies fertilizer products to soil or turf.
- PHOSPHOROUS FERTILIZER
- Any fertilizer that contains phosphorous, expressed as P2O5, with a guaranteed analysis of greater than zero, except that it shall not be considered to include animal or vegetable manures, agricultural liming materials or wood ashes that have not been amended to increase their nutrient content. The phosphorous percentage in a fertilizer product is included on the packaging, which contains three numbers (e.g., "26-0-3"), with the phosphorous percentage as the middle number. A zero in the middle means no phosphorous, while a "2" or a "3" means low phosphorous.
- SOIL TEST
- A technical analysis of soil conducted by an accredited soil-testing laboratory following the protocol for such a test established by the Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension.
- WATER BODY
- A surface water feature, such as a lake, river, stream, creek, pond, lagoon, bay, canal, estuary and any marine waters.
Applicators shall be prohibited from engaging in any of the following activities:
The application of fertilizer to an impervious surface. Fertilizer inadvertently applied to an impervious surface must be immediately swept or blown back into the target surface or returned to its original container or another appropriate container for reuse or disposal.
The application of fertilizer between December 15 and February 15 or if the ground is frozen.
The deposit of grass clippings, leaves or other vegetative debris into water bodies, retention or detention areas, drainage ditches or stormwater drains, or onto impervious surfaces, except during scheduled cleanup programs.
The use or application of fertilizer within any of Stafford Township's Wellhead Protection Overlay Zones.
The application of fertilizer in excess of the manufacturer's recommended rate.
The application of any phosphorous fertilizer, except as demonstrated by a need for specific soils in accordance with a soil test and the associated annual fertilizer recommendation issued by the Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension.
The following activities shall be exempt from § 105-3 of this chapter:
The application of fertilizer on commercial farms, although 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 Resource Conservation Service and approved by the Soil Conservation District Board.
The application of any phosphorous fertilizer when:
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; or
Reestablishing or repairing turf after substantial damage; or
Applying phosphorus fertilizer that delivers liquid or granular fertilizer under the soil's surface, directly to the feeder roots; or
Applying phosphorus fertilizer to residential container plantings, flowerbeds or vegetable gardens.
The application of fertilizer products on a golf course, a park or recreation area, when implemented in accordance with the terms of a turf management program that has been submitted to and approved by the Township, which shall be required on an annual basis, and which shall include the application of fertilizer on the property by a landscape professional.
The following guidelines are recommended for use by any applicator.
Drop spreaders, rather than broadcast spreaders or other type spreaders, are recommended for use when applying fertilizer.
Fertilizers should not be applied within 24 hours of any substantial rainfall, consisting of any storm generating 1/2 inch of rain or more within a twenty-four-hour period.
The Township recommends that grass clippings remain on lawns wherever possible to promote water conservation. In those instances where leaving grass clippings on lawns is impractical, all excess grass clippings should be removed within eight hours of mowing due to high phosphorous, nitrate and nutrient content in grass clippings that will act as a fertilizer if permitted to enter waterways. All grass clippings and organic material shall be removed from impervious surfaces.
Only nitrogen-based fertilizers in slow-release formulas should be used absent a documented need for other fertilizer types.
Soil testing should be conducted once every three years to determine which nutrients, if any, are necessary before any fertilizers are applied. The County of Ocean provides soil testing services at no charge or a minimal charge.
Fertilizers should be applied, if at all, no more than four times per year on a single parcel of property.
Fertilizer should not be applied to areas within the twenty-five-foot buffer of any water body.
All landscape professionals who apply fertilizer to property in the Township shall be required to complete an educational course that is offered by Stafford Township, Department of Public Works, on the proper application of fertilizer, by January 1, 2011. The course shall be offered on a regular basis as established by the Department of Public Works, but not less than once per month, at a cost of $20 for each landscape professional. The course shall take approximately one hour to complete. Members of the public shall also be permitted to attend any course session free of charge. The Department of Public Works shall publicly post a schedule of course sessions, including times and dates.
A landscape professional with more than one employee may designate a person to serve as the business's "certified fertilizer applicator," which person shall complete the Fertilizer Education Course. Any employee of a landscape professional who applies fertilizer must work under the direct supervision of a certified fertilizer applicator, who shall be responsible for the compliance of the landscape professional and its employees with the provisions of this chapter.
Upon completion, each landscape professional who attends and completes the Fertilizer Education Course shall be provided with a certificate of completion and a sticker to be placed upon vehicles used by the landscape professional to document the successful completion of the course.
This chapter shall be enforced by the Stafford Township Code Enforcement Officer.
Any person found to be in violation of any provision of this chapter shall be issued a written warning by the Code Enforcement Officer. After the issuance of three written warnings to an applicator, the Code Enforcement Officer shall issue a summons, which shall subject the violator to a fine not to exceed $100.
Any landscape professional who fails to successfully complete the Fertilizer Education Course as set forth in § 105-6 herein by January 1, 2011, shall not be permitted to apply fertilizer to properties in Stafford Township. Any violation of the terms of this chapter shall subject a landscape professional to a fine not to exceed $1,000.