HomeLocal NewsHow Much Phosphorus Is Allowed In Chemical Fertilizers In Michigan

How Much Phosphorus Is Allowed In Chemical Fertilizers In Michigan

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Knowing how much phosphorus is allowed in chemical fertilizers in Michigan before applying fertilizers to your lawn is important. It will ensure you don’t break any law. 

Michigan phosphorus law took effect on January 1, 2012. Commercial applicators and homeowners are expected to abide by the law. 

Fertilizer use can make your lawn lush, healthier, and green. Fertilization helps the grasses to grow stronger and more attractive. 

Here, we’ll discuss the amount of phosphate fertilizers you can apply to your lawn in Michigan, and other information about the subject. So, keep reading to learn more!

How Much Phosphorus Is Allowed In Chemical Fertilizers In Michigan? 

The amount of phosphorus fertilizers allowed in chemical fertilizers in Michigan is zero (0). Chemical fertilizers usually comprise three major ingredients called N.P.K.

The N stands for nitrogen; the letter P represents phosphate (P2O5), while K is soluble potash (K20). So, the fertilizer composition allowed in Michigan can be 30-0-6 (you can use any fertilizer, provided it has zero phosphate). 

When you find the number “30-0-6” written on a chemical fertilizer package, note that it means the fertilizer contains 30% nitrogen (N), zero percent of phosphorus (0%), and 6% of potash (K or potassium). 

The Michigan Fertilizer Law (1994 PA 451, Part 85) bans phosphorus fertilizer use in Michigan. The law took effect on January 1, 2012. 

So, you cannot use phosphorus fertilizers on residential or commercial lawns in the state. These include both athletic fields and golf courses. In addition, the ban includes both homeowners and commercial applicators.      

Instances You Can Apply Phosphorus Fertilizers In Michigan

The Michigan Fertilizer Law restricts the application of phosphorus fertilizers on lawns. However, there are cases where you can apply phosphate (phosphorus) fertilizers in the soil. Here are the instances.

1: The law doesn’t capture the use of phosphorus fertilizers for agriculture, trees, gardens, and even shrubs. 

2: Phosphorus fertilizers are important for healthy lawns and can be applied under the following circumstances:

  • You ran a soil or plant tissue test and discovered low phosphorus levels in the soil. The test result indicates that phosphorus is highly needed. 
  • Phosphorus is necessary for new turf establishment using sod or seed. 
  • Phosphorus application might be possible only on golf courses whose manager has completed the MDARD-approved training program. 
  • With fertilizers containing biosolids, manure, or composted manure (manipulated manure). Even in this circumstance, you can only apply a limited amount of fertilizer, 0.25 pounds of phosphate fertilizer per 1000 square feet. 

What Are The Benefits of Phosphorus In Chemical Fertilizers In Michigan?    

The benefits of phosphorus in fertilizers are the same everywhere. Phosphates are included in chemical fertilizers because they influence root growth. 

Phosphorus fertilizers help grasses to develop stronger roots. They help encourage early development of roots. And when grasses develop strong roots that anchor them firmly to the ground, they can withstand erosion. 

Michigan soil boasts plenty of phosphorus, so there might be no need to apply phosphorus fertilizers to lawns. The grasses can get the phosphate they need from the soil and other nutrients from fertilizers, such as nitrogen and potassium. 

Phosphorus isn’t the only important nutrient grasses need. Nitrogen and potassium are equally important for a healthy lawn. 

Here is what nitrogen and potassium in chemical fertilizers offers. 

Nitrogen is an important nutrient for lawns. You can see how important it is from the composition of most chemical fertilizers. The composition of some fertilizers is N.P.K. 30-0-10. The figure “30” represents nitrogen fertilizers. So, this tells you that a huge amount of nitrogen is required in the soil. 

Nitrogen is a major part of chlorophyll and essential for plants’ green color. It ensures vigorous growth, including developing a lush and dense lawn. 

In addition to giving grasses their vibrant color, nitrogen ensures the leaves’ blades grow straight and strong. In the absence of nitrogen, grasses will be stunted. Your grasses will lose that deep green color every homeowner craves in their lawns.  

A Handy Tip: Wondering how fast nitrogen works on grasses? Here’s what you need to know. Quick-release fertilizers will make grasses greener in as little as a day or two. However, your lawn will be evenly green within a week. 

The slow-release fertilizers may take longer. You can expect some leaves to turn green in two to five days, while the lawn will be completely green in a few weeks. 

Why Is Phosphorus Not Allowed In Michigan?

There have been serious concerns regarding the use of phosphorus fertilizers in Michigan. Phosphorus pollution can cause the death of fish, smelly algae blooms, and other problems. And this pollution occurs when phosphorus applied on the soil washes into waterways.  

The need to keep rivers, lakes and streams clean pushed several municipalities to kick-start a restriction or ban on phosphorus fertilizer usage. So, the phosphorus ban in Michigan began as a way to improve water quality across the state. 

But has the move yielded any encouraging results? Has it reduced phosphorus pollution? This has been an open question until now, says John Lehman, a renowned ecology and evolutionary biology professor at the University of Michigan. 

In a study published by Lehman and his students, Kahli McDonald and Douglas Bell, the ban on phosphorus fertilizer has yielded results. The journal “Lake and Reservoir Management” shows that the level of phosphorus in the Huron River was reduced by an average of 28 percent following Ann Arbor’s adoption of an ordinance in 2006. 

The ordinance curbed the application of phosphorus fertilizers on lawns. Besides, there’s enough phosphorus in southeast Michigan soils. Thus, it was unnecessary to apply chemical fertilizers that contain phosphorus. 

Lehman could assess Ann Arbor’s 2006 ordinance’s effectiveness because he and Julie Ferris, an undergraduate student, were already studying the Huron River and two downstream lakes’ nutrient levels (Belleville and Ford Lake). But the study Lehman and Ferris, a student, conducted was for a different project entirely. 

In other words, they weren’t initially looking at the impact of the phosphorus ban. Lehman decided to conduct the study when he realized they had gathered a massive amount of data and didn’t know what else to use the data for. 

When he finally decided to study the phosphorus levels in the Huron River, the large data gathered made the study much easier and more robust. 

Chemical analysis of the samples collected for the first year indicated clearly that phosphorus concentrations were much lower after the ordinance banning phosphate fertilizers took effect. But the question is, did the ordinance cause a reduction in phosphorus concentration? In addition to the ordinance, public education efforts, including increased environmental awareness by Ann Arbor residents, may have also played a part in phosphorus reduction in lakes and streams. 

Lehman’s study attracted the attention of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). He was even invited to present his study results at a special meeting. Lehman’s study is an important one. So, there is a high tendency that it may generate massive interest beyond the borders of Michigan. 

The research was founded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and the city of Ann Arbor. 

How Often Should You Fertilize Your Lawn In Michigan?

Knowing when and how to use fertilizer is important. Applying chemical fertilizers at the wrong time and in the wrong way may massively impact your lawn’s growth and health. 

How often one should fertilize a lawn depends on several factors. These include the soil, time of the year, and lawn health.    

The first advice is to fertilize your lawn at least 4-6 times yearly. Why? When you do so, your lawn will develop healthier and stronger roots. With stronger roots, the grasses won’t be easily washed away by erosion. In addition, you’ll have a lush and healthier lawn. 

What is the best time to fertilize a lawn? Consider the ground temperature before fertilizing. Ensure it reaches at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit before you fertilize. 

This should be around March or April. Ensure your choice of fertilizer boasts ingredients that can prevent crabgrass, too.   

The second best time to apply chemical fertilizers to sustain your lawn’s healthy growth is around May or June. Why? These periods are when the grasses start growing the most. Thus, they may start losing stored nutrients faster and need replenishment to sustain their growth. 

The third and fourth time considered best to apply chemical fertilizers to your lawn is during summertime, around July to early September. Another period is October before the cold weather shows itself. 

The reason for a third and fourth application is to help replenish the lost nutrients and enable the grasses to store enough nutrients over winter. 

A Handy Tip: You can fertilize your lawn any day. That is morning, afternoon or evening. But note that the best time to apply fertilizers is early morning or evening when the sun isn’t at its strongest. 

Type of Lawn Fertilizers Michigan Homeowners Should Know 

Different types of fertilizers exist, and it’s important you know them. Check out the different fertilizers below.

1: Granular Fertilizers:

These types of fertilizers look like pellets. They are called “dry fertilizers” too. Granular fertilizers are a breeze to apply and are cheaper. 

The granular fertilizers need to break down after application. They can only release their nutrients to the soil this way. So, after applying granular fertilizer, endeavor to water. Another way to break the fertilizer faster is by applying it after a heavy rain. 

2: Slow-release fertilizers:

The name of this fertilizer tells you all you need to know about it. Slow-release fertilizers release their nutrients slowly, so don’t expect to see immediate results when you apply them. 

The most important thing is finding a balance. That is, finding a way to ensure your grasses stay green and healthy without growing too fast. If they grow too fast, you’ll have to mow frequently, which is quite stressful.

3: Liquid fertilizers:

The reason many may prefer liquid fertilizers is because each drop of it contains the same amount of nutrients. And this helps to prevent under or over-fertilization. 

Liquid fertilizers release nutrients faster, helping lawns turn completely green much quicker.  

4: Quick-release fertilizers: 

The name of this fertilizer tells you all you need to know. With quick or fast-release fertilizer, you can expect a few grasses on your lawn to turn green in as little as one or two days. But the lawn may turn completely green in as little as a week. 

It’s not advisable to use quick-release fertilizers if you don’t know how to do so. Why? Applying it incorrectly may destroy your lawn. It may cause the soil to leach and burn your lawn. 

5: Organic fertilizers:

Organic fertilizers are eco-friendly. There is no threat of chemicals leaching into groundwater or washing into rivers and lakes. These fertilizers are made from natural materials. 

Organic fertilizers comprise a mixture of bone meal, compost, kelp, fish, and other natural ingredients. You can apply these fertilizers to your soil to replenish nutrients and help your lawn grow healthier. 

A Handy Tip: Organic fertilizers are the best option. The results from their usage can last up to six weeks. But there are some drawbacks. These fertilizers are expensive compared to synthetic ones. In addition, it takes longer to start seeing results when using such fertilizers.  


So, how much phosphorus is allowed in chemical fertilizers in Michigan? The Michigan Fertilizer Law prohibits the application or use of phosphorus fertilizers. Thus, homeowners or commercial applicators cannot apply fertilizers that contain phosphate to residential or commercial lawns.

Michigan soil boasts a high amount of phosphorus. Therefore, it might be unnecessary to add more fertilizers to the soil. Besides, the ban on phosphate fertilizers reduces phosphorus pollution and improves water quality. 

A study by Professor Lehman, an ecology and evolutionary biology specialist at the University of Michigan, and his students indicated a 28% reduction in phosphorus in Huron River, indicating that water quality improves when phosphorus fertilizer usage is limited. 

Jason Cooper
Jason Cooper
Jason Cooper is a dedicated news blogger with a zeal for storytelling. Enthusiastically covering current events, he constantly seeks fresh angles and innovative ways to refine his craft and engage his readers.


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