Time to get your fertilizer certification

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Tractor spreading fertilizer

Time goes by fast. Really, really fast! It’s been more than 20 years since I was living and working in northeastern Ohio, (primarily Erie/Huron/Lorain counties). I would not have thought back then that 20 years could go by so fast!

But, it does … And 16-plus months will go by even faster. That’s right: Sept. 30, 2017 will be here within that “blink of an eye.”

Why is Sept. 30, 2017 so important? Because that’s the deadline for getting your Fertilizer Applicator Certificate by sitting through a simple class.

After that, we’re not sure what the requirements will be, but it is very likely that a test will need to be taken — and passed — in order to get the certification. So, how does this affect you?

1. Do you raise 50 or more acres of crops for sale? 2. Do you apply commercial fertilizer to your crops? (This includes anything with a guaranteed analysis — even manure … but does not include fertilizer put into the rows during planting.)

A. Do you side-dress your corn crop, even though you have the “dealer” do the rest? A. Do you supervise someone else who’s applying (son/daughter/spouse, hired hand, etc.)?

If your answers to any of the above questions are “yes,” you need to be certified to apply those fertilizers.

OK, so what needs to be done? Lucky for you, it’s as easy as A, B, C.

A1: If you presently have a Pesticide Applicator’s License, plan to attend a two-hour Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training program this next winter; most OSU county extensions offer this in conjunction with their Private Pesticide Applicator Recertification programs.

A2: If you are not a licensed pesticide applicator, attend a three-hour Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training offered by OSU Extension. (You can find upcoming programs at www.nutrienteducation.osu.edu.)

B: Complete and sign the fertilizer certification form at the end of the meeting. C: Pay $30 to Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). Once you’ve completed these three steps, you will receive a yellow Fertilizer Applicator Certificate card in the mail from ODA.

Keep it handy to show proof that you’re certified to apply that fertilizer. What are your responsibilities once certified? Basically what you’ve (probably) been doing, but (maybe) in a more detailed way.

The details

You need to keep records of who, what, when, where, how, how much, and conditions under which the fertilizer was applied. You need to record who applied it, the certificate holder (and the name of the person applying under that holder, if applicable), what (the analysis of the fertilizer), when (onth/day/year), where (field number/location), how (application method), how much (rate of application), conditions at time of application, soil conditions, temperature, precipitation and the weather forecast for 24 hours after application.

Keeping records

While there is no standard format for keeping this information, it does need to be recorded within 24 hours of the application. These records then need to be kept for three years and available upon request to ODA (in case there’s a question/investigation into water contamination).

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Debbie Brown, Ph.D., is an OSU Extension educator in Shelby County, Ohio. Send comments or questions in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460, or email her at brown.1522@osu.edu.

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