Lawn Fertilizer and Pollution: Research Update March 28 at PSU

March 15th, 2007 by Adam

Growing a lush, green lawn is a goal sought by many homeowners. More than 30 billion dollars is spent annually in the United States on lawn care, including toxic chemicals and fertilizers that can pose a serious threat to the environment. PSU’s Center for the Environment describes how cutting edge, interdisciplinary research is used to design ways to address these issues in an upcoming Environmental Science Colloquium, “Changing Homeowner’s Lawn Care Behavior to Reduce Nutrient Runoff.”

Brian Eisenhauer, assistant professor of sociology and associate director of Plymouth State University’s Center for the Environment, makes the presentation Wednesday, March 28, 4-5 p.m. in Room 001 of Boyd Hall.

Eisenhauer will speak about water quality issues related to development and lawn care, and how social science research can be used to address related environmental issues. The continued residential growth in the region is having a number of negative impacts, including those resulting from too much fertilizer use on lawns. Addressing this issue is very complex due to regulatory challenges, and effective solutions involve using social science to design education and outreach to catalyze behavioral change among homeowners.

To address this issue, the USDA funded a three year, $486,000 interdisciplinary research project that will apply environmental and behavioral research results to extension efforts to reduce the application of excess nutrients by homeowners. Eisenhauer and a team of graduate and undergraduate students will conduct social science research in five communities across New England using in-depth interviews and scientific surveys to identify the primary drivers of homeowners’ fertilizer choices and application behaviors. The information will be used by extension at universities throughout New England to develop education and outreach to change lawn care behavior to improve water quality. In his presentation, Eisenhauer will describe the integration between the social sciences and other fields in this research, the theories and hypotheses guiding the social science research, and the progress on the project to date.

The Environmental Science Colloquium is free and open to the public. For more information visit

Questions about this release?
Contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or