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Fertilizer Reduction Initiative

Suffolk County Fertilizer Reduction Initiative

The aim of the Fertilizer Reduction Plan is to reduce nitrogen pollution on Long Island. Nitrogen pollution or nitrate leaching occurs when water forces the nitrates (common in fertilizers) to trickle through the ground below root levels and into the groundwater. This poses a major problem, because the nitrates can leach all the way to Long Island’s natural aquifer, the source of our drinking water. Along with the contamination of our drinking water, nitrogen affects other natural waterways because it encourages the growth of algae. This disturbs plants, wildlife, and even our own activity in our streams, rivers, lakes, and bays because the extra nitrogen changes the environment of the water.

Elements of the Plan

  • Countywide ban on application of all fertilizers between November 1 and April 1; a period where the ground is likely to be too cold to absorb nutrients, resulting in increased leaching of nitrogen into the groundwater and surface waters
  • A ban on use of all fertilizer on all county properties, with the exception of golf courses, athletic fields, the Suffolk County Farm in Yaphank, and where establishing new turf along public works projects
  • Codifying the county's Organic Parks Maintenance Plan, which will use the minimum amounts of slow-released fertilizers needed and limit fertilizer application rates to 3 lbs. of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. over a golf course
  • Use of Best Management Practices, as developed by the Suffolk County Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Program adopted by the County Legislature for nutrient management at the Suffolk County Farm
  • Expansion of existing educational campaigns for consumers and retailers, such as those sponsored by the Homestead A-Syst Task Force, to promote low-maintenance lawn care and landscaping, modification of fertilizer application rates and greater use of slow-release formulas. The expanded program will include an interactive website for homeowners to determine the amounts of fertilizer needed
  • Require that all licensed landscapers take an approved turf management course which teaches the proper use and application of fertilizers and methods to minimize nitrogen leaching. County officials estimate there are about 1,200 landscapers licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs under a home improvement license
  • Require that retail establishments post signs to advise consumers about the risks of nitrogen-based fertilizers and assist them in choosing fertilizers that pose the least harm to the environment. Retailers must also make brochures available about the proper use and application of fertilizer products

Any Questions Regarding the Nitrogen Fertilizer Reduction Law Can be Directed to Jon at (631)-853-5946

To learn more about the Healthy Lawns Clean Water program please visit the website at:

To view Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Click Here

Landscapers need to take this class one time only. If you have taken the class and have not received your certificate please call the County. (Please allow 3-4 weeks for processing.) There is no need to attend another class.

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901