Leading garden fertilizer company Scotts Miracle-Gro has announced it is removing phosphorous from its range of lawn care products, amidst concern of the environmental impact of nutrient pollution in the water supply.
The decision is a landmark move in an industry which currently contributes heavily to nutrient pollution in the country’s water supply. The Turf Builder range of grass treatments will now be made without phosphorous, in an attempt to help reverse the damaging impact of certain lawn care products on the environment.
Phosphorous used to treat lawns accounts for around 10% of total phosphorous levels in the water supply, which encourages the growth of damaging forms of algae in and around waterways. The algae has a negative effect on fish stocks and the purity of the water, causing growing concern amongst those looking to maintain water quality.
Aside from the environmental impact of the use of phosphorous, there are financial costs too that need attention. An estimated $82 million is lost annually as a result, factoring in the resulting health costs and the impact on private fisheries operating in affected areas.
Professor Jeff Reutter of Ohio State University welcomed the decision, suggesting that where companies like Scotts lead, others will be encouraged to follow.
“We’re assuming this is going to take care of 95 percent of the lawn-care industry. It is very significant that Scotts has taken this action. In some bodies of water, lawn-care runoff can be a very significant source of phosphorus. That is not the case in Lake Erie, but this shows farmers that they are not being singled out for action. This is a way for all of us to do our part.”
At a professional level, lawn care need not have an adverse impact on the environment, and it is possible to achieve significant results without having to rely on harmful practices.
In fact, caring for your lawn in a responsible way can deliver environmental benefits. Healthy soil composition can help with plant growth, and a nation of thriving plants contributes to the environmental balance of the wider ecosystem. Without well-treated lawns and gardens, insects and wildlife may struggle to survive.
Phosphorous is used as a nutrient for encouraging growth in plants and crops, and it is of significant value in encouraging lawn growth. However, phosphorus can run off into water supplies, affecting wildlife and damaging the water systems.
Many notable waterways experience problems as a result of so-called ‘nutrient pollution’, a term coined to cater for this type of environmental damage. Phosphorus-polluted water is fatal to fish and other wildlife, and experts are becoming increasingly concerned about its wider environmental impact.
The decision to remove phosphorus from Miracle-Gro fertilizer is to take immediate effect. The company is hoping the move will help reverse the tide of nutrient pollution, while also helping shift the emphasis amongst the industry to do business in more environmentally responsible ways.