Soil Testing

Consumer Information Regarding

The Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998 authorizes the Maryland Department of Agriculture to regulate the use of commercial fertilizer on land not used for agricultural purposes.  Effective October 1, 2000, all persons employed to apply nutrients to ten or more acres of non-agricultural property-regardless of individual parcel size, or State property of any size are required to do so following recommendations provided by Maryland Cooperative Extension.  This requirement does not apply to homeowners making their own nutrient applications.

Following are some frequently asked questions concerning applications of fertilizer to land and plants.

Q.  What is Commercial Fertilizer?

A.  A substance containing a recognized plant nutrient used for its plant nutrient content and designed for use, or claimed to have value, in promoting plant growth, except unmanipulated animal and vegetable manure, marl, lime, wood ashes and gypsum.

Q.  Define Land Not Used for Agricultural Purposes.

A.  A parcel of land that is not assessed for agricultural use under Tax-Property Article, 9-209, Annotated Code of Maryland.  This includes commercially managed home lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, cemeteries, landscape plantings, and all state land.

Q.  Explain Who Must Comply With the Law

A.  A person or a company who is hired to fertilize multiple parcels of nonagricultural land totaling 10 acres or more in one year, or a person or a company who is hired to fertilize state land of any size that is nonagricultural land.  This includes an employee of the owner of the land or a manager of the land.

Q.  What Types of Information Are Applicators Required to Keep?

A.  According to the law, applicators are required to keep records of their activities on file for three years.  These records should include documentation that Maryland Cooperative Extension recommendations were followed regarding soil tests (conducted at least once every three years), production and management objectives, and timing of the nutrient application.  Additionally, records are required regarding the amount, location, timing, rate and content of nutrients applied to land and plants.

Q.  Are There Penalties for Companies or Individuals Who Do Not Comply With the Law?

A.  Yes.  Civil penalties of up to $1,000 for the first violation and $2,000 for subsequent violations may be imposed.  A $10,000 maximum may be imposed for violations associated with the same set of circumstances.

Q.  What If I Have a Question or a Problem?

A.  The Maryland Department of Agriculture regulates the application of nutrients in Maryland.  If you suspect that your applicator is not complying with the law, call or write the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Nutrient Management Program, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland, 21401, (410) 841-5959,

Source: State of Maryland Department of Agriculture