Step 4: Fertilize Less
When used excessively or improperly applied, fertilizers can end up in stormwater runoff and pollute local water bodies, including creeks, rivers, and the Barnegat Bay. We can protect water quality in the Barnegat Bay watershed by reducing or eliminating the use of fertilizers.
Why It’s Important
What are fertilizers? What do they do? How much of them do we need in our landscape? What happens to excess fertilizers? Based on your soil test results, your soil may contain quantities of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Excessive amounts or improperly applied chemical fertilizers run off landscapes during rain events and are carried into local rivers, lakes, and bays. This “nutrient pollution” can lead to algal blooms and eutrophication, a process which can have harmful effects on wildlife, pets, and people. Organic fertilizer alternatives, such as compost, slowly release nutrients into the soil, improve soil structure and water retention, and build soil as they feed plants.
Visit Step 4: Fertilize Less on the Jersey-Friendly Yards website for tips, tools, and resources about the effects of nutrients on land and in our water bodies.
4A: Learn about the harmful effects of chemical fertilizers on our water bodies.
Provide a lesson to your students about the effects of fertilizer runoff into our water bodies and the process of eutrophication.
Resources for Lessons about fertilizer impacts on Our Water Bodies
- Nutrients for Life: Top Resources for Educators (AG)
- Stormwater Pollution Classroom Activity (AG)
- Agriculture in the Classroom (Maine): Lesson: Concentrate on the Solution (AG)
- Stormwater Management Lesson Plans (AG)
- NYNJ Harbor Estuary Program: Nutrients in the Water (pgs 23-26) (UE, MS)
- Bloomin’ Algae (MS)
- Agriculture in the Classroom (California): Chemistry, Fertilizer and the Environment (MS, HS)
- NOAA: Who Will Survive the Dead Zone (HS)
- Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies: Eutrophication in the Hudson River (HS)
General Resources about Fertilizers and Eutrophication
- Webinar: Jersey-Friendly Schoolyards – Understanding the Impacts of Fertilizers on Eutrophication and Coastal Acidification
- Jersey-Friendly Yards: Fertilizers in Our Waterways
- Jersey-Friendly Yards: Decline of Barnegat Bay
- Jersey-Friendly Yards: New Jersey’s Fertilizer Law
- Ocean County Soil Conservation District: NJ Fertilizer Law