Cosmetic Fertilizer & Soil Management Topic

Cosmetic fertilizers:  Fertilizers used on residential properties to promote lawn and plant growth. They are not the fertilizers used for the purpose of agriculture or maintenance of golf courses.

Delivered So Far:

1)  The PLWMP Cosmetic Fertilizer Survey Results

2)  Committee May 2014 Email Update including overviews of:

3)  Preliminary Best Management Practices Soil Management guiding document..  It details the the findings and full Good, Better & Best Recommendations.  Limited availability email:

See the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association Healthy-Lake Lawn Maintenance information and resources.

Why a Topic on Best Management Practices for Fertilizers?

The science shows a high correlations between Total Phosphorus and Total Nitrogen and lake eutrophication (similar to the premature aging of the lake).  Much of the soil is  already nutrient rich around the lake.  Plants will only uptake the nutrients they need and the rest goes into the lake with the runoff of the rain or gravity has it work it way through the soil an into the lake.  Nitrogen also promotes the growth of aquatic plants.

What are the goals and objectives?

This subcommittee is to prepare a Watershed Beneficial Practice Guide for Cosmetic Fertilizers and Soil Nutrient Management and to create recommendations for individuals who manage lawns and currently use cosmetic fertilizers, Pigeon Lake watershed municipalities and groups such as the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association (PLWA).

The Cosmetic Fertilizers and Soil Nutrient Management Topic Mandate (TOR)

What progress and outputs has the committee produced so far?


By the end of 2012 the committee had scoped their work and set about challenging their assumptions, and to learn what else they needed to know about nutrients.  The committee had presentations by Tim Penstone, from EnviroPerfect Solutions, Sarah Skinner from the Battle River Watershed Alliance and Chris Trichreb the AESRD Central Lake Limnologist.

Studies are happening around the world to understand the links and relationships between the different factors that results in a proliferation of algae blooms, sometimes including cyanobacteria (Blue/Green Algae) which can have toxins that have the potential to be harmful to people and animals.

A researcher was hired to gather the most current information from across North America about different approaches and evidence for changing the practices of people to minimize the use of fertilizers.  Dora presented some of her findings at the ALMS Conference in Sept 2013.  View Researcher Dora Berry’s presentation on Banning Cosmetic Fertilizers with Phosphorus

At that same ALMS Conference Committee Chair Bob Gibb presented.  Sept 2013  Cosmetic Fertilizer Presentation

Information from the 2012/13 in-depth water studies are starting to come in.  Of the nutrients coming into the lake from external sources 48% are from all around the lake.  Much of this is due to fertilizer applications to lawns, and not enough natural areas to uptake and filter the nutrients before they get into External Sources of Lake Nutrientsthe lake.  This is good news because all we have to do is to adopt lake-healthy lawn maintenance practices to start to make a real difference to the lake.

View the 2014 Leaders Session Presentation on Fertilizers

The PLWMP #2 Survey – Cosmetic Fertilizers: What do you think? was sent out December 29th, open until January 17th (via the PLWMP website Home page) to gather public input to assist in producing the recommendations for individuals, municipalities and the PLWA along with learning the type of information that the watershed community wants to see in the guide.

Key results along with other committee findings are listed in the Cosmetic Fertilizer & Soil Management Committee Update

The PLWA has heard what people want to help them to adopt lake-healthy lawn maintenance.

picture of brochure

Click on image to see overview brochure.

 Who was on the sub-committee?

A number of people attended the committee on a regular basis and a few irregularly. The regular attenders included:



AESRD:         Alberta Environment, Sustainable Resource Development

ALMS:           Alberta Lake Management Society

APLM:           Association of Pigeon Lake Management

BRWA:          Battle River Watershed Alliance

PLWA:           Pigeon Lake Watershed Association

PLWMP:       Pigeon Lake Watershed Management Plan





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