Perspective of green industry professionals from the florida pest management association fpma
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Protecting Florida’s Water. Perspective of Green Industry Professionals from the Florida Pest Management Association (FPMA). Who I am:. My name is Erica Santella:

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Perspective of green industry professionals from the florida pest management association fpma

Protecting Florida’s Water

Perspective of

Green Industry Professionals from the

Florida Pest Management Association (FPMA)

Who i am
Who I am:

My name is Erica Santella:

I am here representing the green industries, including the Lawn & Ornamental Service industry, as chair of the Florida Pest Management Association’s Green Industries Task Force.

TruGreen’s Regional Technical Manager for our 16 Florida branches. Responsible for directing all agronomic and horticulture programs in Florida.

One of the first industry people to become a Green Industries Best Management Practices certified trainer by completing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Instructor Training Program. This training enables me to teach others to become certified instructors themselves. 

On October 7, led a training program for 29 participants, including staff of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control Division and six Orange County staff members in Apopka, Florida.

We understand share local government concerns
We Understand & Share Local Government Concerns:

  • There is a real need to limit nutrient-loading of the State’s water ways

  • Total Maximum Daily Load for nutrients per federal Clean Water Act, so local governments are under pressure from state & federal governments to act

  • Local governments get credit for passing a water quality ordinance

  • As professionals in the green industries we need to do our part to effectively address these issues in partnership with local governments.

The lawn ornamentals industry speaks with a unified voice
The Lawn & Ornamentals Industry Speaks with a Unified Voice:

  • Several associations – one message

  • We support certification for any professional charged with plant care.

  • The story about turf is too good to be true. It is nature’s best water filter, but needs inputs to “run efficiently” as a filtering mechanism.

  • Fertilizer is nothing more than food for plants and therefore fertilizer is needed to keep plants and turf in the growing mode.

  • We support the model ordinance as endorsed by the State of Florida in enacting SB 494 this summer.

Value of lawn landscape
Value of Lawn & Landscape: Florida in enacting SB 494 this summer.

  • Lifestyle: benefits of green spaces for play, recreation, and an overall sense of well-being

  • Economic:

    • Jobs: Hospitality & Green Industries

    • Thriving ecosystem leading to natural beauty = National & International Tourism

  • Real Estate: property values enhanced by “curb appeal”


Environmental benefits
Environmental Benefits: Florida in enacting SB 494 this summer.

  • All plants are a carbon sink: University of Colorado estimated that the 30 million acres of lawns that exist in the U.S. remove 5% of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

  • Turfgrass has enormous environmental benefits:

    • Dust Abatement: New England Turf points out that grass is estimated to trap some 12 million tons of dust and dirt from the air annually

    • Erosion Control: Research dating from 1973 shows that surface soil is kept stabilized due to turf’s high shoot density and extensive root mass

    • Carbon Sequestration: The Agronomy Journal reports that, “Turfgrass can sequester atmospheric carbon at a high rate due to its high production and high root turnover.”

    • Natures Best Water Filter: The Journal of Environmental Quality notes that “turf’s high growth density nearly eliminates runoff in favor of infiltration, which then increases the amount of water entering the soil.” Texas A&M University adds to the knowledge, stating: “The average suburban lot, which is about 10,000 square feet, can absorb more than 6,000 gallons of rainwater without noticeable runoff.”

  • Book of data exists from South Florida to Minnesota defending the environmental benefits of lawn & landscape

How turf acts as a water filter

Rain falls on impervious surface Florida in enacting SB 494 this summer.

How Turf Acts As a Water Filter:

Runs off into swale over flush or notched curb

Runoff flows down swale

Filtering out solids and pollutants

Some water infiltrates into soil

Remaining runoff enters drain

Plants absorb some dissolved pollutants as micronutrients


Industry practices related to fertilizer
Industry Practices Related to Fertilizer: Florida in enacting SB 494 this summer.

  • Industry Business Motives:

    • Fertilizers containing nitrogen are one of industry’s biggest expenses.

    • Customers do not pay based on how many bags of fertilizer we use. They pay us to keep their lawns and plants healthy.

    • If we can keep the customer’s lawn healthy and minimize application materials, we make MORE profit.

  • Fertilizer is second highest controllable expense next to labor

  • Fertilizer cost increases since 2007:

    • Nitrogen – Doubled in cost

    • Phosphorous – Doubled in cost (but not widely used)

    • Potassium – Doubled in cost & in short supply

Dep green industries best management practices bmp s manual
DEP/Green Industries Best Management Practices (BMP’s) Manual:

  • Contents

    • Landscape design

    • Irrigation

    • Mulching, mowing & pruning

    • Fertilization

    • Pest control

  • No Data to Support:

    • Black-out periods

    • Slow release preference

    • Increased buffer zones

  • Involved Stakeholders:

    • DEP, FDACS, IFAS, Water Management Districts, DCA, Industry

  • DEP Revision in 2008

Model ordinance fertilizer taskforce process 2007 2009
Model Ordinance Fertilizer Taskforce Process -- 2007-2009: Manual:

  • Thirteen member Committee:

    • Held 8 stakeholder meetings throughout the state, where:

      • Science was reviewed

      • Hours of testimony from individuals and organizations all over the state was heard, considered, and evaluated

    • Wrote model ordinance using a consensus process:

      • Approved unanimously at the highest level of consent

      • Supported the Green Industries BMP’s guidelines

      • Allowed additional local regulation only for extraordinary need

  • Ordinance was presented in the 2008 State legislative session but did not pass.

  • Ordinance presented again in 2009 and endorsed in enactment of SB 494 that became effective July 1, 2009

Ensuing benefits of model ordinance development process
Ensuing Benefits of Model Ordinance Development Process: Manual:

  • Issue evaluated by weighing science as more conclusive than emotion and rhetoric.

  • Training for ALL professionals required.

  • Enforcement & certification instituted. Post-2014 reality: untrained professionals will NOT be in the field.

  • Education for homeowners/do-it-yourselfers encouraged.

  • Failsafe mechanism:localities can do more if SB 494 model ordinance is NOT working.

Non sb494 ordinances
Non-SB494 ordinances Manual:

  • Fundamental Problem: Its supporters don’t fully understand the science of plant growth and dynamics of feeding plants.

  • Emotion prevailed over science

  • Non-science based requirements include:

    • Summer black-out periods

    • Overly wide buffer zones

    • Slow-release fertilizer mandate

Sarasota ordinance in the field observations after 2 years
Sarasota Ordinance -- Manual:In-the-Field Observations After 2 Years:

Within 10 months of enactment, the nitrogen black-out period had created measured nitrogen deficiencies in the majority of tested landscapes -- in spite of the claims by the non-science community that rainfall, clipping return, and use of long term slow release nitrogen would provide sufficient growth.

Non sb494 ordinances in the field observations after 2 years
Non-SB494 ordinances-- Manual:In-the-Field Observations After 2 Years:

  • Additional Observations:

    • No “educational” stops to vet compliance

    • No enforcement on professionals or retail. When a violation is reported, people are told “there is nothing we can do.”

    • Some businesses and individuals are ignoring Sarasota law and this leaves best-trained & ordinance-compliant companies at a competitive disadvantage 

    • Overlooks problem of clippings directed into storm drains by government  workers

    • Minimal Best Management (BMP) training offered by the State. In practice, infrequently offered training sessions has made it impossible for companies to legally use new employees

    • No meaningful retail notification or education for consumers

Green industries support
Green Industries Support: Manual:

  • Passage of the SB 494 model ordinance in Hillsborough County -- it’s the science-based and most practical approach to regulating fertilizer use

  • Local Governments have the opportunity to regulate fertilizer applications in a way that will result in improved water quality and recognizes that water flow doesn’t stop at its borders through adoption of a statewide standard.