John Moran Writes About Fertilizer & Sprinklers

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Photo by John Moran

Photographer, environmentalist and OSFR member John Moran speaks out about water in Florida in the Nov. 27, 2016 Gainesville Sun.  We, and IFAS, should heed his words.  Read the entire article at this link.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life:  once taken, it cannot be brought back-


Florida would be better without sprinklers, fertilizer

By John Moran

Special to The Sun

John Moran

Dear readers: I offer a brief, fun Florida History Quiz: When Juan Ponce de León stepped ashore in 1513 as Florida’s first undocumented immigrant, he reportedly said: A) “Damn! If I’d known this place was so horticulturally challenged, I’d have brought along the lawn sprinklers and fertilizer.”

— or — B) “Wow! I’ve never seen a place so stunning and lush. Let’s call it La Florida — the Land of Flowers!”

Act NOW!*

Put the Right to Clean Water Amendment on the 2022 ballot


The point being that with our natural abundance of rainfall, sunshine and atmospheric deposition of nitrogen, Florida could justifiably have “In God We Trust” stamped on our landscapes and lawns, and not just on our currency and license plates.

This is the truth our trusted institutions and political leaders dare not speak: Really, we’d do just fine without the lawn sprinklers and fertilizer. And Florida would be a better place.

But artificially maintained lawns look so pretty, you say. And they’re good for the economy! They provide jobs for irrigation installers and the turfgrass and fertilizer industry and university researchers. Why would we want to upend the established order?

In a word, sustainability. Those six syllables are more than a marketing buzzword. What it means is that the old ways are destroying our waters and diminishing our children’s future.

Let’s wade in for a closer look, shall we?

Florida’s waters are in terrible shape and if you’re wondering where to point a finger, groundwater overpumping and fertilizer pollution are high on the list of culprits.

All of this is underscored in the alarming new ‘Water 2070’ report by the 1000 Friends of Florida planning advocacy group, in cooperation with the Florida Department of Agriculture and the University of Florida GeoPlan Center.

Here are the twin takeaways from the report: With a projected 15 million thirsty new residents due to arrive here in the next half century, we Floridians need to seriously reduce our water consumption or we’re in trouble.

And this: ‘The single most effective strategy to reduce water demand in Florida is to significantly reduce the amount of water used for landscape irrigation.”

In plain English: The needs of tomorrow are more important than the lawns of today. And if we don’t change our ways, we can kiss our springs goodbye.

We knew — or we should have known — this moment of reckoning was coming. The world is running out of fresh water. And the reality of life on a finite planet demands a new way of thinking about water and Florida’s future.

Meanwhile, a 2014 IFAS survey shows that we Floridians are concerned about water and the environment and we’re willing to cut back — but only if it doesn’t affect our lawns.

How can this be, you may be wondering. Here’s a clue: When IFAS speaks, Florida listens.

Few institutions statewide rival the clout and credibility of the University of Florida’s Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences, or have done more for the common good. But when it comes to IFAS and water conservation, what’s the message we hear?

Let’s be clear; if you  find it incomprehensible that so many Floridians are hooked on chemically-dependent, irrigation-intensive lawns despite the well documented collateral damage they exact on our waters, know that IFAS didn’t create this problem.

But their solution — the “Florida-Friendly” landscaping program with its supposedly “responsible” use of fertilizer and lawn irrigation — has unintentionally enshrined the normalization of abuse.

Think about it.

“Friendly” means “able to coexist without harm.” If someone you love got lung cancer, would you encourage them to smoke “only when needed”? Or would you suggest they give up their harmful habit altogether?

IFAS has led the way in creating beautiful lawns.

Now comes the higher challenge: One authentically sustainable lawn at a time, we need IFAS to lead the way in creating a better Florida.

— John Moran is a Gainesville-based nature photographer and water advocate.

1 Comment

  1. Once again, our HERO of Florida Springs & Rivers has it right!! It IS up to ALL of us to REMIND IFAS that we are working hard to STOP further degradation of our beloved Florida waters and aquifer –by taking simple steps which SAVE $$$: Just as lush native grasses survive in the wild, yours can, too, without yearly chemicals or over-watering! Lawns that appear “dead” during dry seasons usually resurrect themselves when rains come. Even lawns decimated by “bugs”, fill in eventually. So, let’s all encourage IFAS, friends and family to follow John’s wise and timely advice!!
    BTW, if I see brown patches in lawn, I put a few oz of Murphy Oil Soap or Dawn, (which kills chinch bugs) in a hose-end sprayer attached to one of those lightweight fabric hoses & I run around my yard wetting down problem areas quickly with the soap solution (twice over 2 wk. period) — an old Jerry Baker Tip –easy & and non-toxic! Soon, you should see new grass shoots appearing –without calling Pest Control!.
    INSTEAD of using RoundUp (now considered a carcinogen) to weed and edge, recycle stacks of old newspapers by thickly overlapping them (at least 10-12 pages thick) over garden area up to edges. Good way to design a new garden, too, without removing grass or weeds. Cover newspaper thickly w/pinestraw –an attractive, long-lasting way to preserve precious water!
    WHEN attending Garden Club Symposiums at UF & elsewhere, let’s all object whenever toxic or water intensive suggestions are made! Let IFAS and other gardeners know OUR GOAL is to STOP toxic algal overgrowth in our Springs’ & Rivers! Share with IFAS & Garden Club friends our goal to PRESERVE for future generations what we’ve enjoyed during our lifetime!!
    Some of us are old enough to remember when folks had NO lawns, but just raked the dirt and grew pretty flowers. Now many folks are planting drought resistant, hardy lawn covers w/paths which are gorgeous & require very little care & almost no water or fertilizer. CREATIVITY & CONSERVATION ARE THE KEYS to beautiful lawns & gardens!
    Gale Dickert, Water & Wetlands Chair, Master Gardener, Madison Garden Club, member FFGC

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