Fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides have various ecological effects, toxicity, and chemical fate and transport based on the product’s chemical components. Depending on the chemicals’ characteristics, they can have unintended harmful effects on terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals, and can end up in our soil, water, and air. Nitrates from fertilizers can migrate through the soil profile and contaminate ground water supplies beyond safe drinking water levels.
Phosphorus from fertilizers contributes to eutrophication of surface water bodies that depletes oxygen levels and can lead to fish kills. This fact sheet provides guidance on program development for minimizing fertilizer and pesticide application.
Practicing proper fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide application reduces the risk of these materials being transported by stormwater to downstream water bodies. Minimizing chemical use by employing best management practices (BMPs) for both application and material handling helps to eliminate a significant cause of stormwater pollution. Some BMPs have the potential to reduce costs associated with grounds keeping and maintenance, while improving the aesthetics and vegetative health of grounds where they’re implemented.
Programs designed to manage and minimize chemical application typically include a combination of the elements identified below. The BMPs and chemical alternatives discussed can provide the content for training programs and public education materials.
Integrated pest management (IPM) is a pest control system that employs mechanical, biological, cultural, and/or chemical mechanisms as determined by a thorough evaluation of the conditions rather than addressing every condition with chemicals.
The following are IPM strategies:
I PM strategies are employed only when pest populations reach an unacceptable economic or aesthetic threshold.
The following guidelines should be followed when preparing and handling chemicals: