Fertilizer and irrigation education: my Brevard yard for the protection of the Indian River Lagoon

Matthew A. Lenhardt, Sally A. Scalera, Linda M. Seals

Abstract


The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) contains the most diverse ecosystem in the continental United States. Years of nutrient loading and pollution from septic systems, fertilizers, and stormwater run-off have contributed to the IRL’s impaired status. In Florida, landscape professionals are required to have a license to apply fertilizer, whereas homeowners require no such education. Realizing the need for homeowner education, University of Florida–IFAS Extension Brevard County horticulture agents developed My Brevard Yard, a creative approach to teach homeowners how to apply fertilizer and irrigate their properties in an environmentally sound way. Methods: Adapted from the Green Industries Best Management Practices training, My Brevard Yard (MBY) consists of a three-hour classroom and ‘hands-on’ workshop plus an optional site visit. Collaboration with local municipalities helps promote the workshops in their local communities. Nine MBY workshops with 117 participants have been held. Pre- and posttests indicated a 28.3% knowledge gain in topics such as: proper walking speed for applying fertilizer is 3 mph; recommended amount of slow release nitrogen applied is one pound per 1000 square feet; and using a soil test as the basis for developing a turfgrass fertilization program. Designed to teach environmentally sound practices, the MBY workshops and site visits were designed to capture a variety of practice changes. These practice changes can range from the correct amount of fertilizer applied, applying fertilizer at the correct time, proper irrigation practices, etc. The adoption of various practices multiplied by a large number of residents can result in the improved health of the IRL.


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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283