The company first made this pledge two years ago on World Water Day as a partial solution to nutrient runoff that can lead to excessive algae growth in waterways. The 2011 phosphorus-free announcement expanded on an earlier commitment — to halve phosphorus content in lawn foods — Scotts made to stakeholders in 2006.
The company says it used more than 10 thousand tons of phosphorus to produce Turf Builder brand lawn food products in 2003.
Scotts’ global research and development leader Bruce Caldwell says the company decision to remove phosphorus from the lawn products stems from its commitment to ensuing sustainable water supplies.
The company says that while established lawn has an adequate amount of phosphorus to support healthy grass, phosphorus is essential to the initial root development of grass plants. For this reason, the company says it will remain in Scotts’ starter fertilizers for new lawns and also in the company’s lines of organic lawn food, as phosphorus naturally occurs in the organic materials contained in the products.
In April, the USDA launched a tool to help agribusiness model phosphorus loss in runoff and determine ways to reduce these losses. Another USDA online tool, currently in the pilot phase, can help farmers and ranchers understand the quality of water flowing off their fields. The Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff (WQIag) — inspired by the Dow Jones Index — gives producers a complete picture of their water quality instead of focusing on just one aspect such as temperature, nutrients or pesticide content, says Shaun McKinney, NRCS national water quality and quantity team leader.
And in a different approach to lawn maintenance, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CAD) last week hired a herd of goats to provide sustainable vegetation management at O’Hare International Airport. The CAD awarded a $100,000 contract to Central Commissary Holdings, which owns the small grazing herd.
The city says the goats will help reduce CO2-emitting lawnmowers and weed-eaters, as well as landscape maintenance costs from fuel, labor, herbicides and equipment. The goats also provide an alternative to toxic herbicides and help prevent runoff and soil erosion.