grass with sunshine in the background


Nitrogen and Phosphorus are two nutrients that have the potential to cause environmental degradation of our natural resources, primarily water.  Nitrogen and Phosphorus are also important plant nutrients contained in many fertilizers; to minimize the potential negative impact of these nutrients from fertilizers, local and statewide nutrient management regulations have been and are being developed.

Chapter 262 of the Acts of 2012 authorized the enactment of a new statewide nutrient management regulation by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (MDAR).  As part of the legislation, specific communities were given the opportunity to adopt their own regulations.  The local regulations cannot be less restrictive than the state regulation.  The Cape Cod Commission through the designation of a District of Critical Planning Concern allowed towns to adopt local nitrogen regulations for turf.  Those towns that did not adopt local ordinances will fall under state regulation. 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.

The regulations below apply to anyone who applies fertilizer to turf. Click here for printable version for summary of towns.

The towns of Barnstable and Chatham adopted regulations that include standards for non-certified and certified applicators.  Certified applicators are permitted to apply fertilizers in accordance with the UMass Best Management Practices for Soil & Nutrient Management in Turf Systems, and not the more restrictive town performance standards.


Cape Cod Cooperative Extension will be offering opportunities for fertilizer applicators to become certified. Fertilizers applicators may become certified by passing a proficiency assessment test or by verifying that you meet specific criteria developed by the Cape Cod Commission’s Content and Application of Turf Fertilizer Model Bylaw.  Landscape professionals and homeowners may become Certified Fertilizer Applicators.

Click here for Proficiency Criteria

Click here for Best Management Practices

Nutrient Management Information

Please have phone number (not a company phone number) and email address prior to beginning exam.

Individuals are allowed only 1 submission based on phone number and email address.

Results will be provided in 1-3 business days.

Please contact office at #508-375-6638 or if you need to retake exam.

Click here for Fertilizer Exam 

Find a Certified Fertilizer Applicator here (coming soon)
Cape Cod Good Lawn Care Practices
Turf Fact Sheets 
UMass Turf Program
Cape Cod Commission


The Cape Cod Cooperative Extension Horticulture Clinic is open to handle gardening questions, test soil samples for pH, and answer diagnostic questions. Questions can be submitted by calling the Clinic (508) 375-6700 or by sending an email to

Please be as detailed as possible with your question. For questions that involve insect, plant, weed identification, or disease/mysterious problem solving, please include high quality pictures with your email so that we can make a conclusive diagnosis. For pointers on how to take high quality diagnostic photos click here.

Soil and Diagnostic samples can be dropped off at 212 Mid-Tech Dr., W. Yarmouth. Soil Submission Form and Diagnostic forms will be available below the black mailbox at the front door. Please be sure your sample is accompanied by one of these forms and that your sample is clearly marked with your name and any pertinent information. Samples can be placed in the mailbox when complete. Soil is tested at no cost to residents and the limit is 5 samples per household.

For more extensive soil testing including nutrients and fertilizer recommendations – use the UMass Soil Testing LabInstructions on how to take a soil sample.

You can also mail your soil samples:
Cape Cod Cooperative Extension
Soil Test
PO Box 367
Barnstable, MA 02630