In 2012, the Massachusetts Legislature passed An Act Relative to the Regulation of Plant Nutrients (Act).  The Act directed the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to develop regulations to ensure that plant nutrients are applied in an effective manner to provide sufficient nutrients for maintaining healthy agricultural and non-agricultural land, including turf and lawns, while minimizing the impacts of the nutrients on surface and ground water resources to protect human health and the environment.

The Act and regulations (330 CMR 31.00) establish standards for the applications of plant nutrients to agricultural land and non-agricultural turf and lawns.  The regulations for non-agricultural turf and lawns became effective on June 5, 2015. The regulations for agricultural land became effective on December 5, 2015.


Non-Agricultural Turf and Lawns

The requirements for applications to non-agricultural turf and lawns include limitations on phosphorus-containing fertilizer. Lawn care professionals and homeowners are required to obey plant nutrient application restrictions and follow University of Massachusetts Amherst Extension's Guidelines for nutrient management on lawns and turf.  For more info see factsheet for Turf and Lawns pdf format of Plant Nutrient Regulations - Turf and Lawns Factsheet

The regulations also enhance the ability of municipalities to maximize the credits relative to storm water discharge or similar permits issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Agricultural Land

The regulations that address the plant nutrient applications to agricultural land became effective on December 5, 2015. The Department is developing factsheets and other outreach and educational materials to assist farmers and land managers with the implementation and compliance with these regulations. For more information see factsheet for Ag Land. pdf format of Plant Nutrient Regs: Fact Sheet for Agricultural Land

Please check back regularly for updates on information related to the implementation of these regulations.


Law and Regulations:


Additional Resources

Factsheet for Turf and Lawns pdf format of Plant Nutrient Regulations - Turf and Lawns Factsheet

Retail Sign for Phosphorus Containing Fertilizers pdf format of Phosphorus Fertilizer Retail Sign

UMass Information and Guidelines

UMass Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Laboratory

UMass Soil Test Methods


Water Supply Protection Areas:

The location of water supply protection areas, including Zone A areas, can be found on the MassDEP Water Supply Protection Map (Online Map Viewer):

Currently, the Map Viewer does not show the Zone 1 areas.  Contact the local public water supplier for a Zone 1 map.