What you need to know about water quality regulations

Who needs to be certified?

By the law and regulations created with the passage of Senate Bill 150 in 2014 anyone in Ohio who applies fertilizer to 50 acres or more must be certified. This law applies to fertilizer (material having an analysis). If it’s manure, lime or other farm residue, you do not need to be certified by this law.

If all of your crop goes through an animal before it leaves the farm, you don’t need to be certified, but I think it’s a good idea if you do go to the class and get certified anyway.

 

How do you get certified?

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) will certify applicators in Ohio. If you are a Licensed Pesticide Applicator in Ohio, you attend a two-hour meeting and fill in and sign the attendance form. Ohio State University personnel supply the education for this class. We hope you pay attention and actually learn something.

If you are not a Licensed Pesticide applicator, then the process is a little different. You attend a three-hour class again from Ohio State University Extension and complete and sign the forms, submit an application and then pay a $30 fee to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

If you are a Certified Crop Adviser, you do not have to attend the fertilizer applicator training. We assume you have taken the exams, know about nutrient management and are already acquiring the required five hours of CEUs for NM (nutrient management), so you have the education. But you will need to show proof of your credentials and apply to ODA for the certification.

If you are a CLM — Certified Livestock Manager — same thing. You already do the education, just show proof and submit the application to ODA.

Find applicator certification training sessions from OSU Extension at: http://pested.osu.edu/NutrientEducation.

 

Can I supervise a family member or farm employee to make a fertilizer application?

Yes. A Certified Fertilizer Applicator can supervise a family member or farm employee without a certificate, if they are under your control and you supply instructions on where, when and how to apply the fertilizer. However, I cannot supervise my wife, since she is never under my control and she will not take my instructions — ODA may give me some leeway on this one.

This is a long way down the road, but will I need to recertify and how will I do so?

Folks are actually thinking ahead on this subject, and yes there will be a recertification process. Our first goal is to get the approximately 18,000 applicators trained in the two- or the three-hour program. This will need to be completed by September 2017, so the group we trained in late 2014 and early 2015 will recertify in 2018. Again, Ohio State University Extension will do the training and ODA will be the agency who will actually certify you in this process.

In the future, for Licensed Pesticide Applicators the renewal or recertification will be done together in the same year. There is only one renewal fee and that is the same $30 you pay now for your Pesticide license renewal.

For the non-pesticide licensed fertilizer applicators, this will be in the year of their first certification — 2015, 2016 or 2017. Then they will renew in 2018, 2019 or 2020, respectively. They will pay a $30 renewal fee.

 

Do I need a nutrient management plan?

The quick answer is yes. But it isn’t necessarily required.

Included in the SB150 law is a provision that if:

  • You are certified to apply fertilizer
  • You keep the records of application and weather at application
  • And you develop and get approved a Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan

Then yes a nutrient management plan can be used as part of an affirmative defense against a private civil action. This means that if you are sued by a neighbor for movement of nutrients off-site then being certified, having records and a nutrient management plan can be used in court to defend your actions. (I am not a lawyer, this is not to be construed as legal advice, I am just trying to pass on some education in the matter. As always contact your own lawyer for legal advice).

The deeper question is, “Should you have a plan to manage nutrients?”

And the answer is definitely yes. One way we think we can manage the nutrient loss problem is to know what nutrients we have available in our soils to understand what risk we have for loss of nutrients and to know how much we should apply to maintain our crops. With a nutrient management plan, we can answer the concerns and better manage nitrogen and phosphorus to reduce nutrient loss from our fields.

Please contact your local Soil & Water Conservation District office to learn how to get started on a nutrient management plan. In northwest Ohio, some OSU Extension offices (Defiance, Fulton, Paulding and Wood) also have put plan writers on board. For the do-it-yourselfer, OSU has a Nutrient Management Workbook to develop your own plan, designed originally as a manure management tool. This also works for commercial fertilizer. Its available in hard copy at some Extension or SWCD offices and on-line at: http://agcrops.osu.edu/sites/agcrops/files/imce/fertility/NutrientManagementWorkbookRelease3.5.1.xlsm.

 

I want to buy manure from a nearby livestock operation and they say I need to be certified to take the material?

Yes, this is now true. As of July 2015 no person may apply manure from a concentrated animal feeding facility without a permit from ODA, unless you are a Certified Livestock Manager or you are certified through the Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training through the FACT programs that Extension is providing around the state. Again this is the two- or three-hour program we provide. Schedules are available at: http://pested.osu.edu/NutrientEducation.

 

Records – what do I need to keep?

Within 24 hours of nutrient application, record:

  •  Name of fertilizer certificate holder
  •  Name of applicator working under direct supervision of certificate holder (if any)
  •  Date of application
  •  Location (field ID, farm)
  •  Fertilizer analysis (such as 11-52-0)
  •  Rate of fertilizer application (pounds per acre) and total amount applied
  •  Fertilizer application method (surface-applied, incorporated, etc)
  •  Soil conditions
  •  For surface applications only: is ground frozen or snow covered?
  •  Temperature and precipitation during application
  •  and weather forecast for day following application.

Oh, and keep those records of your nutrient application for three years. One very good place to get and print off the weather records and a forecast is http://weather.gov.

 

I live in northwest Ohio – what does Senate Bill 1 mean?

For applications of granular fertilizer (defined as nitrogen or phosphorous) or manure in the western Lake Erie basin, a person may not apply:

(1) On snow-covered or frozen soil

(2) When the top two inches of soil are saturated from precipitation

(3) When the local weather forecast prediction for the application area contains greater than a 50% chance of precipitation exceeding:

  •  one inch in a 12 hour period for granular fertilizer
  •  one-half inch in a 24 hour period for manure

unless the fertilizer/nutrient is injected into the ground, incorporated within 24 hours of surface application or applied to a growing crop.

This affects all or part of 24 counties in northwest Ohio. Senate Bill 1 applies to manure application as well as fertilizer. Manure wasn’t necessarily considered in SB 150. Rumors have it that SB 1 will likely be extended to all of Ohio in the not too distant future.

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