Nutrient management regulations passed by the Maryland Legislature in 1998 require that the University of Maryland nutrient management guidelines be followed on state property and commercially managed turfgrass sites, including golf courses. In 2011, additional regulations further specified how N and P can be applied to turfgrass sites, as well as requiring state training and certification of nutrient applicators. These regulations became effective in 2013 and limit application of fertilizers as follows:
Maintenance N and P Fertilizer Applications
- Water soluble N fertilizers are limited to 0.7 pounds actual N per 1000 ft2 per application.
- Slow release N fertilizers are limited to 0.9 pounds actual N per 1000 ft2 per application.
- Fertilizers classified as an enhanced efficiency N fertilizer are allowed up to 2.5 pounds actual N per 1000 ft2, as long as 80% of the annual rate for a given turfgrass species is not exceeded.
- Between December 1 and March 1, N fertilizers cannot be applied to golf course turf.
- Between November 15 and November 30, 0.5 pounds actual N per 1000 ft2 can be applied, but only using a soluble N source.
- P applications must be based on soil test recommendations; however, P cannot be applied between December 1 and March 1.
- N or P fertilizer applications cannot be applied to impervious surfaces such as walkways, driveways, and roadways. Any fertilizer that lands on impervious surfaces must be removed or returned to the turf, such as by sweeping or blowing.
- Fertilizers containing N or P cannot be applied to frozen ground, regardless of the date
- No fertilizer containing N or P can be applied within 15 feet of specified waterways. If a drop spreader, rotary spreader with a deflector plate, or a targeted liquid spray is used for applications, then fertilizer can be applied no closer than 10 feet from such waterways. Such waterways include surface waters subject to the jurisdiction of the state; the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries; ponds, lakes, public ditches, or tax ditches within the state; and drainage systems within the state other than those designed and sued to collect, convey, or dispose of sanitary sewage.
Establishment N and P Fertilizer Applications
- Although highly recommended, a soil test for P applications to the seedbed or prior to laying of sod is not required if the following conditions are met:
- The application is made for the purpose of establishing turf on bare ground
- The application rate is made in accordance with the seeding recommendations of the University of Maryland, and
- The land has been disturbed, such as by construction or tillage.
- A soil test is required for P application if an existing turfgrass area is being overseeded but the area is not being tilled. For example, overseeding existing tees or fairways using a slicer-seeder would require a soil test before P can be applied.
- No P can be applied between to a seedbed or an area to be sodded between November 15 and March 1.
- No N can be applied to a seedbed or an area to be sodded between December 1 and March 1. Between November 15 and November 30, 0.5 pounds actual N per 1000 ft2 can be applied, but only using a soluble N source.
- Between March 1 and November 15 on areas to be seeded or sodded, a maximum application rate of 0.7 or 0.9 pounds actual N per 1000 ft2 can be applied using a soluble or slow release N source, respectively.
Only a certified professional fertilizer applicator, or someone working under the direct supervision of a certified professional fertilizer applicator, can be paid to apply fertilizers. Professional Turfgrass Fertilizer Applicator Certificates are valid through June 30 of each year. Certificates may be renewed yearly for a $100 fee and verification of two hours of annual recertification training.
For more information, see:
- Maryland’s fertilizer regulations http://mda.maryland.gov/resource_conservation/Documents/Fertilizer_Law.pdf
- Information related to training and certification http://mda.maryland.gov/resource_conservation/Pages/nutrient_management_training_program.aspx
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