Ohio’s required fertilizer certification, get the facts

Sept. 30 deadline looms for Ohio’s fertilizer application certification training.

Fertilizer application

SALEM, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio State University and other agricultural organizations are urging Ohio farmers to attend courses for the Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training, or FACT, program.

The law

Signed into law by Gov. John Kasich in May 2014, Ohio Senate Bill 150 created a first of its kind certification program for applying commercial fertilizer in Ohio.

Focusing on science-based practices, the bill requires farmers applying commercial fertilizer to more than 50 acres to attend a course on fertilizer application. Applicators must be certified no later than Sept. 30, 2017.

“Ohio’s agriculture community has been a good partner, stepping up to make sure we are part of a great economy,” said David Daniels, director of Ohio Department of Agriculture.


Since the law took effect, more than 12,000 people have been certified, but it is estimated that another 6,000 to 10,000 people need to be certified, said Daniels.

For more information on certification training and to sign up for classes in your area visit, www.nutrienteducation.osu.edu.

Farmers can get recertified for pesticide application and their fertilizer certification at the same time.

So far, the training has been positively received by farmers, with 93 percent of farmers saying in a post-training survey that it improved their knowledge and they learned something that could save them money or help with environmental stewardship on their farm, said Daniels.


The three-hour training covers water quality, nutrients, sediment, erosion and phosphorus application. The training will also continue to evolve, said Greg LaBarge, Ohio State University Extension field specialist.

The training sessions focus on best management practices and the latest research to keep nutrients in the field and available to crops while reducing nutrients leaving the field.The law is broad, including the side dressing of corn and nitrogen applications to corn or wheat, said LaBarge.

More than 200 trainings in 80 counties are scheduled between now until April.

While applicators have until Sept. 30 to become certified, the majority of training sessions for certification will occur this winter.

“We have given farmers and applicators more than ample opportunity to be certified and meet the requirements of Senate Bill 150,” Daniels said.

Missed deadline

What happens if you don’t get certified by Sept. 30?

“The cost will no longer be subsidized,” said Daniels. “There will be a cost associated with the training, just as there is now with pesticide certifications.”

ODA will strive to gain voluntary compliance, but applying commercial fertilizer after Sept. 30 without a certification could result in fines and/or being charged with a misdemeanor offense.

“We preach compliance, not wanting to beat [the requirement] over anyone’s head,” said Daniels.

“If you are caught applying fertilizer without the certification, we will ask you to get off the tractor,” said Daniels. “We want to work with those individuals that might not really know of the requirement, but if they simply refuse, we have the ability to file a misdemeanor with the county prosecutor.”

Responsibility. “Between the law and voluntary efforts, farmers have proven they’re willing to help address Ohio’s water quality challenges,” said Adam Sharp, Ohio Farm Bureau’s executive vice president.

“Becoming certified by the deadline is a crucial part of meeting our responsibilities.”

For more information on certification training and to sign up for classes in your area visit www.nutrienteducation.osu.edu.


 Agriculture Fertilizer Certification Training

Click on your county to find nearby agricultural fertilizer certification training. Three hours are required for initial certification for those who DO NOT have a pesticide applicator license. Applicators who DO have a pesticide applicator license are able to attend two hours (done in conjunction with their pesticide recertification)  For a list of meetings by county, click here!

Maumee ValleyErie BasinWestern ReserveTop of OhioHeart of OhioCrossroadsMiami ValleyOhio ValleyBuckeye Hills

 Fertilizer Application Certification Training FAQ

Who needs certified?

Fertilizer certification is required if you apply fertilizer (other than manure) to more than 50 acres used for agricultural production grown primarily for sale.

If you have the co-op or other custom applicator make all fertilizer applications, you do not need the certification.


What fertilizers are included?

Fertilizer is any substance containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, or other plant nutrient in a dry or liquid formulation. All application types (broadcast, side dress, sub-surface, knifing, etc.) are included in the certification requirement.

The only application exempted is start-up fertilizers that are applied through a planter. Lime and limestone are not considered fertilizers in the certification process.


Who is exempt?

Applicators who are a Certified Crop Advisor or Ohio Certified Livestock Manager are not required to attend training to become certified for fertilizer applications.

They, however, must register with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.


What is the deadline?

The certification must be obtained by Sept. 30, 2017. There is no registration fee to attend any of the sessions, however, pre-registration is required.


What are the consequences if I do not get certified?

ODA will strive to gain voluntary compliance, but applying commercial fertilizer after Sept. 30 without a certification could result in fines and/or being charged with a misdemeanor offense.


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