Chloride is most commonly used in fertilizers to carry Potassium, a vital nutrient for plant growth, in the form of potassium chloride (KCl). Oftentimes potassium is present in soils, but it may become depleted over time and thus it is often included in fertilizers for turf and agriculture. While potassium from other sources can be included in fertilizer, KCl is the most common and generally the most affordable. When used in turfgrass fertilizer in developed areas, KCl can exacerbate the impact of winter maintenance salts, extending chloride stress well into the part of the year when biology is most sensitive.
Fortin Consulting has developed a training dedicated to Low Impact Turfgrass Maintenance. Designed especially for landscaping professionals, this class covers methods for keeping turf healthy while protecting local waterways. The class also covers pest control practices, and we hope that it will soon serve as a refresher course for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Applicator License.
Non-point sources of chloride are from materials applied to the landscape: highways, city streets, parking lots, sidewalks, gravel roads, farms, lawns… the list goes on. These materials and their dissolved products are commonly transported by rain and snowmelt into lakes, streams, and groundwater. When monitoring in flowing surface water, look for land applied chloride’s signature: the total mass of chloride transport will increase after a rainfall or snowmelt period.