Fertilizer and Water Quality

Most homeowners are becoming increasingly more aware of how their actions in regards to home maintenance, lawn care and more influence the environment around them. This is good news – we all need to play our part in protecting the world in which we live. However, it’ also important to have the full story – and not rely on “myths” – when making these decisions.

For example, some homeowners have stopped fertilizing their lawns due to a belief that fertilizer use increases phosphorus run-off into groundwater and other water resources. However, recent research by the University of Minnesota demonstrates that properly fertilized lawns have healthy root systems, which do a better job of holding soil in place than the root systems of non-fertilized lawns. As a result, an unfertilized lawn actually has more phosphorus run-off than a lawn that is fertilized. This holds true even when fertilizers with large amounts of phosphorus are used.

An unfertilized lawn loses its density and exposes soil, which leads to erosion and loss of nutrients. A fertilized lawn holds the soil in place, meaning less loss of nutrients and less phosphorus run-off.

Brian Horgan, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Minnesota and extension turfgrass specialist said, “If you don’t fertilize your lawn thinking you’re doing better, you’re actually doing a lot more harm than if you properly fertilize your turf.”

Interested in learning more about the University of Minnesota experiment? Check out this video, as Dr. Horgan gives more details about his research.

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