Landscape contractors in Suffolk County will be able to fulfill the county requirement for a turf management class with an online class now being developed for the county by Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Landscapers are required to complete a turf management class as a condition of their license under a 2007 law mandating reduced fertilizer use in Suffolk. Since 2009, 36 classes have been held and more than 1,653 contractors have completed them, according to Suffolk County.

The online course, which will be developed by the end of the year, aims to make it easier for landscape contractors to take it, according to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who announced the addition of the online course yesterday.

“The turf management course is a critical component of the county’s’Reclaim Our Water’ initiative,” Bellone said yesterday. “The inappropriate use of fertilizers can lead to degradation in local water quality and harm groundwater, drinking water, wetlands and surface waters throughout the county,” he said.

All applicants for a home improvement contractor license — renewals or new licenses— who apply fertilizer must take a Suffolk County approved turf management class. Landscapers who have not taken a class cannot apply for a new license or renew an existing one.

The class covers the prohibition dates on fertilizer application, the environmental consequences of nitrogen runoff, alternatives to turf-grass such as native plantings, proper use and application techniques of fertilizer, and information on soils.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.