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The fertilizer industry insider who’s credited with helping Sarasota Bay

Michael Juchnowicz has been called a traitor, a deserter and a double-crosser by his peers. He thinks of himself more as a maverick.

It has been nearly a decade since the founder of Gardenmasters of S.W. Florida Inc. broke with the fertilizer industry by pushing for stricter nitrogen-control laws — a proposal many fertilization services believed at the time to be a threat to their industry.

He testified before legislators, welcomed county commissioners into his private headquarters and worked with university researchers — fighting the powerful lobbyists his own industry had hired.

But now that restrictions have been in place for several years — banning the use of fertilizer in Sarasota and Manatee counties from June 1 through Sept. 30 — Juchnowicz says he has an established system, while many others are still scrambling to keep their lawns green during the peak summer months.