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State regulators warn farmers of fertilizer scams

Clemson University fertilizer experts are warning farmers about scams involving fertilizer.

The old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true,” is worth remembering as farmers cope with soaring fertilizer costs.

The Department of Plant Industry at Clemson registers and analyzes all legal fertilizers sold in South Carolina. Farmers who have doubts about fertilizer products should call plant industry officials at (864) 656-2140.

In the past two years agricultural production prices have skyrocketed, raising the costs to grow crops. In many cases fertilizer prices have nearly tripled. Some producers are searching for less costly alternatives, but they need to be aware of getting conned, say plant industry leaders.

“Producers should be aware of false and misleading statements on product labels, which are prohibited by law,” said Christopher Ray, department head of plant industry.

“Some products claim that a fairly small volume of their product is equal to a much larger amount of commercial fertilizer. These statements rarely turn out to be accurate. Beware of products that claim their nutrients are more beneficial to plant growth than other products on the market. You need to be skeptical about products claiming to have ‘special’ or ‘secret’ ingredients that are not listed on the label.”

Farmers should do the math to compare the relative amounts of nutrients in products. Make sure you are supplying the amount of plant nutrients to yield good results. Also, to avoid wasting fertilizer, it is important to test the soil, ensuring cost-effective application.

If you need assistance with any product claims, soil tests or application amounts, contact DPI or your county Extension agent.

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