Phosphorus: threatening our water and wildlife from lake to lawn
A Message From the Indiana Wildlife Federation
What is Phosphorus?
A naturally-occurring nutrient that plants only use in
small quantities for growth & energy storage
Why is it a problem?
- Excess phosphorus travels into rivers, streams, and lakes resulting in algal blooms and undesirable plant growth
- 1 lb. Phosphorus can result in the growth of 10,000 lbs. weeds
- Algae overgrowth turns water green and makes it unsustainable for many species due to the lack of food, oxygen, and viable habitats
- Phosphorus damages the natural habitats, and biodiversity declines.
How can this influence my health?
- Quality of drinking water is affected, indicated by poor taste and smell
- Some algae can produce toxins causing skin irritations
- If consumed, this water can lead to gastrointestinal problems and damage to internal systems or even major organs
- Harmful for pets, including livestock to consume contaminated water
How can I help?
- Only use phosphorus in your fertilizer if you have a new lawn or a soil test indicates a low level of phosphorus
- Don’t over-fertilize your lawn. On average, 89% of Indiana lawns do not need phosphorus according to a 2004 survey by Purdue
- Best time to fertilize is in the fall, especially September3. If the ground is frozen, do not apply fertilizer
- Clean up any fertilizer spills on impervious surfaces, such as driveways
- Use grass clippings and fallen leaves as natural mulch
- Tell family and friends about the problems of excess phosphorus!